Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Post About Veganism

I mentioned that I was going meatless in my new year's post at the beginning of this month, and now that I have my computer back (thanks, Dell! You even replaced the keys that Chase tore off!!) I have the necessary tools to get back to blogging.

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.

But why?

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 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.


Preppy Pugs said...

Congratulations on your vegan journey! I've thought about it myself many times. What holds me back is the fact that I really don't like many vegetables. Maybe it's because I don't really know what to do with all those different vegetables? I think the one thing I would really miss would be cheese too. Oh how I love cheese. Keep us updated on your journey, and please share any good recipes you come across.

Becky said...

Good for you! After being a vegetarian for 8 years (currently a meat eater again), I commend you for going Vegan. I could never have done that, cheese and dairy are two of my favorite foods!!! I always ate meat on the few occasions I craved it. A Tofurkey is no substitute for the real deal. My current goal is to eat one vegetarian meal a day. Gives me more freedom, especially with traveling all of the time. I do agree that you will try so many new foods and the kids will too. :)

Todd said...

I want to support you on this journey, so I plan to eat twice as much meat and desserts so you don't have any cravings. If you decide to go back...I'll also try to stop doubling up on my waste of water so we can only consume enough for two people. :)

Just kidding...weird but good for you. I feel a little bad for Bryan tho....are you making normal meals for him and just cooking way more or does this mean he's a vegan when at home too?

Laurie said...

Um, thanks, Todd...? lol.

I am cooking probably 4 meatless meals per week for dinner. Bryan has been really good at trying new things (when they aren't poisonous). On the nights that I make something that I won't eat, I will usually make something that I can sub the protein for- like we had tacos the other night, and I had refried beans in mine instead of chicken. Other nights he doesn't mind so much- like red beans and rice.

LeShayne said...

I would like to say that above commentary from Todd is the very reason I would never try it - that and I cook a lot of chicken. Props to you though - I think its great! I am working on cooking healthier meals in general - more fresh and steamed veggies and less carbs - so maybe if that catches on and takes hold we will cut out red meat too...

Don't know if you use it or not but has some really good recipes - they have a whole section of vegan desserts.

mom said...

One thing that helped get more veggies in my diet (seeing that 2 of the 3 meals a day are either in the car or at work) is a giant 5 lb. bag of mixed frozen veggies from Walmart. Microwave with cooked chicken breast and you have an easy quick meal.

April said...

Laurie, I totally blog-stalked you on Tiffany's recommendation of seeing the video of Chase in the closet :)

Kudo's to you for going vegan. I agree with all of the reasons that you posted, and more, and yet I still can't make the full commitment because I love meat so much. Which is ironic, I was practically vegetarian before I met my husband. Meat is the largest source of mucus production in the body, which allows disease to occur. Every naturopathic doctor usually follows the creed of looking at the colon first at the source of any disease.

We use black beans in a lot of things to replace beef, like sloppy joes and tacos. Applesauce can replace butter in most dessert recipes, and baking soda for levening instead of eggs. We're about 75% there.

Mandi said...

Congrats! I have a few vegan recipes that i found on - have you been there yet? YUM! One of my closest friends is vegetarian and our favorite thing to do together is eat. Have you made tacos yet? that's one of our favorite meals and we can make this with meat eaters and most of the time they like it better than regular tacos. call me and i'll tell you about all the yummy stuff :)