It has been almost a month since I gave up meat. And with the exception of a few meals that were shared with friends, and a pan of brownies that I am not proud of eating almost entirely by myself, I have been dairy, egg, and completely meat free.
A bunch o'reasons. Here are the highlights.
1- Being vegan is healthy. "The vast majority of all cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and other forms of degenerative illness can be prevented simply by adopting a plant-based diet," according to Dr T. Colin Campbell, nutritional researcher at Cornell University and director of the largest epidemiological study in history.
Vegetarians on the whole have stronger immune systems, are far less likely to be overweight, and have stronger bones than people who eat animal products. Not to mention the bacterial and chemical/added hormonal content found in most milk, eggs, chicken, pork, and beef found in your grocery stores and restaurants.
2- Being vegan is environmentally conscious. A UN study reports that the meat industry causes more emissions of CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide than all cars, trucks, SUVs, planes, and ships in the world combined. A University of Chicago study found that switching to a vegan diet was 50% more effective than switching from a regular car to a hybrid in reducing your impact on the environment.
It also impacts the consumption of water- a vegan diet requires 300 gallons of water per day, a meat diet requires close to 4,000.
AND pollution from farmed animals (according to the EPA) is more than all other industrial sources combined.
3- Factory farming of animals is nasty. Nasty, nasty, nasty, on so many levels. I tried to stay away from the propaganda regarding the cruel and inhuman treatment of animals in factory farming and processing conditions, because, honestly, I knew it was there, and I didn't want to think about it. Then, I ran across stories about it in my friendly "Vegan Starter Kit" from PETA. And let me tell you: yuck.
And it isn't just the animals used for meat. It is the dairy cows, the hens that lay the eggs you eat, the fish that are both caught in the wild and farmed. I will spare you the details, but it is truly disturbing.
I absolutely understand that not all animals are treated this way. There are farms that raise animals in humane conditions. It just isn't the norm. And when you buy animal products from your local grocery store, chances are, you are not getting animals who are treated humanely. It just isn't cost effective.
So, why not become vegan? Honestly, I've been cooking vegan for a month now and have made some really yummy meals. I feel better, it is cheaper, and I feel better about the choices that I am making. I also like that my kids are exposed to new foods and a healthier lifestyle. It also forces me to get creative in the kitchen again, which is fun. (Bryan, however, is a little leery of my new creations. It doesn't help that he is allergic to most everything in the world, and that bout of stomach cramps and narrowed airway from the tofu stir-fry didn't help, either.)
I've found that I don't necessarily miss eating meat, but I do miss cheese (although that is diminishing, really). As long as I have a variety of yummy fruits, veggies, whole grains, and beans within arms reach, I am good. I am having issues with missing desserts, though. I have to look into alternatives on that aspect.
The other stumbling block I am coming across is social eating. When we eat with friends, I don't want to turn my nose up at anything put in front of me...my goal of eating vegan is not to alienate people that I love. So, up to this point I have been eating meat at those occasions, but I may start bringing a vegan dish to share so that I have an alternative, and also so that others can give it a try. We'll see. I am still at a crossroads with this one.
Anyhoo. That is what I've been thinking about this month (well, among other things!) and I'll be sure to post more about this journey as I learn about it.