Can’t Do Vegan? Vegan-ish is Doable
October 4, 2011 § 2 Comments
Interesting article in the Boston Globe this morning about how, for some (many, actually) being vegan is easier said than done.
No kidding. I would never, ever suggestion doing it cold turkey (cold tofurky?). If you’re going to give up all animal products, I don’t suggest doing it after a night of burger binging.
Why all the interest in becoming vegan?
- It’s trendy. Just like chocolate-covered bacon is trendy. The interest will pass.
- Hollywood stars are doing it—and they are losing weight. Look at that skinny guy from Spider Man. (Yo, you are way too skinny for a dude.)
- “Meat” is bad for the environment. To the people who give that as a reason I say this: Put down the Big Mac, stop eating at the places where the Sysco truck stops, and go get yourself some meat raised locally and sustainably. Same goes for the McFish sandwich.
- It’s better for your health. I’m no doctor, but from what I hear, I tend to agree that a diet with fewer animal products is likely better for you. For me, I feel better. Really. If you think about the way humans evolved, we “gathered” food – seeds, nuts, plants and such – until someone in the clan could come back with a mastodon. Then it was eaten slowly over a period of time. I.e. they didn’t gorge themselves on mastodon and then go out and get a double mastodon with special sauce and a super-sized side of fries. HOWEVER, there’s certain vitamins and nutrients you need and gain easily from a diet that includes meat and dairy. No meat and dairy? You have to work a little harder at obtaining those nutrients. And, popping pills isn’t the best way to go about it.
I’ve written about being “veganish” before; i.e. two out of three meals without animal products (yes, fish are animals). I started this back in March or April, fell off the wagon a bit during the summer, and have started the veganish thing again about four weeks ago. And you know, it’s not all that difficult. I stick with a vegan breakfast and lunch and add some fish/dairy protein at dinner – a sensible addition of cheese to a dish, or some fish or shrimp. Last week I was about to eat my arm off before I could grab lunch – usually my indicator that I am in desperate need of protein – so I grabbed a boiled egg. I made up for it with a vegan dinner.
Longtime vegans will say I’m not a vegan. And they are absolutely right. I’m not.
On the other hand, some folks may say I’m not taking into account the environmental impact of raising animals or fishing the oceans, and the animal’s own welfare. And to that I say, I’m working on it. For example, we just signed up for a CSF share—that’s Community Supported Fisheries—through Cape Ann Fresh Catch. No more shrimp from Thailand. We’ll be supporting our local fishing industry. That means local communities and local people. And we are getting more and more localized when purchasing our dairy, too.
One last note: This whole veganish thing? Out the window once we get our farm and can raise the animals ourselves.
It’s fantastic that you’ve taken a turn toward the vegan route, as the number of animals slaughtered for our consumption is a monumental one, and every vegan helps. The fact you’ve chosen to write about it is great.
Nevertheless, I find your blog post to float so high over the surface of why people might want to be a vegan, I’m insulted.
Because celebrities are doing it? Because it’s a trend that will pass so you wont have to stick to it in the long run?
How are these viable reasons for making an ethical choice? Since when is “do it because everyone is doing it” an intelligent argument?
Meat is, indeed, bad for the environment, but a weak argument like yours will hardly convince anyone. The situation is dire: huge factory farms regularly devastate land by raising an inhumane number of animals in facilities designed to promote cash flow, not fairness. The amount of methane produced from factory farming is a huge problem for the environment.
As for whether veganism is a healthier lifestyle option–you bet it is. But not only because your body deserves and reacts well to a steady diet of non-processed foods, vegetables, fruits, and more, but because the kinds of things that are put into our raised-to-be-slaughtered animals these days (even the “organic” and “free range” and “pasture raised” ones) can devastate our health: pesticides, antibiotics, the wrong kinds of feeds, the way we kill and process these animals, it’s all wrong.
You’re right that a “real vegan” wouldn’t call you a vegan. It’s because your not….which isn’t a bad thing — you are doing your part to help for your own reasons, and that matters.
What matters, most, though, is our planet: people and animals alike.
We associate animal cruelty in young children to major emotional problems when they are adults. But what about animal cruelty as adults, allowing billions of animals to be raised and slaughtered in inhumane ways just so we can have a plate of chicken or beef or pork or seafood?
What about pigs who are just as clever and mischievous as dogs, fish that feel much more pain than we ever imagined, chickens who spend their entire lives sitting on piles of shit and vomit and dead peers, in cages the size of a 8×11 piece of paper, eating “food” that we would never deem good enough given the chance, going crazy from their captivity.
Being vegan is not a fad. It’s not a choice you make because celebrities are doing it. It’s not a new kind of diet. It’s not a joke.
It’s a way to save your conscience, save the animals on this planet, and save the world.
Kate, thanks for your comments and for the fact that you actually read it – awesome! Wow, someone reading what I wrote.
I do think you missed my sense of irony in the “because celebrities are doing it” and “because it’s a trend.” Absolutely not intelligent arguments – and ones I would never put my words behind. My post really was more of a glancing response to the Globe article (talk about insubstantial arguments!) and a reflection on why I eat the way I eat. It wasn’t an proposition statement for or against. That’s not my style and not why I do this.
You’re right – not being a vegan isn’t a bad thing. Being a carnivore and being an omnivore aren’t bad things, either. If, of course, we do what we do with some thought about how that leg of lamb got on our plate and how far that head of organic lettuce from California travelled to be in our salad. It takes some thought. Maybe I put a little question in a reader’s mind, “Yeah, how did that get here?” – great. But it wasn’t my intention.
With that said …
For the first 18 years of my life I ate what we grew on the farm . Along with fresh corn and beans and such, that means I could tell you who I was eating and the demeanor of the beast. I fed the chickens and ducks, and I held them down while my Dad raised the axe. I have held a still-warm pig’s heart in my hand on a frigid December day, steam coming off it, while I sliced and portioned it into the different batches of sausage. I was even served my pet duck at the age of 5 – a bit traumatic but I got over it – and I haven’t kicked a cat in, well, never. We fed the animals and they fed us.
Growing up as I did also meant I didn’t have salad in January. Beans and tomatoes and chard and peaches and … pretty much any vegetable or fruit was canned or frozen. By March, the canned tomatoes were running low. Between April and August – a third of the year – we just didn’t eat a tomato. Conversely, round about August and through the beginning of slaughtering season, we just didn’t eat that much meat as supplies were running low – although there was always a scrawny ol’ hen as an option.
The family farm – it was a great place to grow up. But as much as we should be concerned about where that burger came from and what of the planet’s resources it took to get it there, we need to be as equally concerned and outraged about that queso-covered ear of corn we nibble on in the hot new restaurant. Corporate ag for both flora and fauna is … well, a whole lot more people need to be thinking about it.
I will live that family farm lifestyle again because I believe it is one of the best ways to know and understand the foodchain I participate in. So, my dream is to some day – soon I hope – not even consider veganism as an option. But until that day comes, I’ll eat as locally and as conscionably as I can.