I've been thinking for a while now about becoming vegan... I've been vegetarian for nearly ten years now. When I was six (so my mother tells me), we were at some type of street fair, and one of the tables was a setup on animal cruelty. Apparently my six-year-old self was so moved by compassion for what I saw that I declared I would no longer eat meat. Being the wonderful unschooling mom that she is, my mother supported me entirely in that. I didn't stop eating chicken fingers and hot dogs until I was eight, as those were my favorite types of meat, but from eight on, I haven't eaten any meat whatsoever. Because of my vegetarian diet, I learned a lot about nutrition at an early age. We as a family have never been much into following the Canadian Food Guide, seeing as the dairy industry (among other industries I'm sure) actually puts pressure on the government to say you need more dairy then you really do (I mean think about it, cow milk is made for extremely fast growing calves, not fully grown or slowly growing humans. Plus, you know how you always hear about dairy being an excellent source of calcium? Well, the type of calcium found in dairy is very hard for your body to absorb. Other sources are much better.), but thanks to my mom I had the three important groups of foods I should always eat firmly in my head: Grains, vegetables, and protein. As long as I had those three categories at virtually every meal, I was good. Grains and vegetables are pretty self explanatory, and as for protein that could mean cheese, tofu, legumes (lentils, chickpeas etc.), or fake meat substitutes that were based on soybeans. As I got older, I got more sophisticated in my knowledge of dietary requirements, finding out which essential nutrients are found in which foods, which supplements I should probably take since I didn't get adequate amounts from my diet, and other such things. I hardly think about my diet anymore, since it's become such a habit. Still, for every single meal, I notice whether or not I've included the three major food groups of grains, vegetables, and protein!
Anyway, that went way off topic in the story of how I became vegetarian, bt back to the vegan thing. I went through a stage where I decided it "wasen't cool" to be vegetarian because of animal rights (yes, I'm embarassed about that stage. What can I say, it's past now), so said it was just health reasons and habit, which was parcially true. But the only way I could "not care" about animal rights was to deliberately not find out about the awful things that animals go through to become food for us humans. Now that period of time is behind me, and I'm proud to say I care very much about animal rights. I wouldn't want to be kept in a tiny cage that I couldn't even turn around in, neglected and tortured, and then killed so someone could eat me, so why the hell would I put another living creature through that? And in the last few months, I've been thinking about the rough time other animals go through to produce other animal products like dairy and eggs. I don't think I want to put animals through that either. I've thought of trying to go free range only, but cows, even when free range, are awful on the environment, and it's nearly impossible to find eggs from chickens that are kept organic and free range! I think perhaps the huge chicken industry in Quebec makes sure no small competitors can survive... So I decided to make a commitment to myself: To be completely vegan for one month. At that time, I can see what I've really missed, if I think I'm missing anything important in my diet, or other important considerations. Overall, vegetarians have a much lower rate of heart disease than meat eaters, and vegans have a much lower rate of heart disease than vegetarians! Veganisn is quite healthy, as long as you pay attention to what you're eating, and there's only one vitamin/nutrient you miss as a vegan so need to take a supplement for (I can't remember what it is... Which means I should take out a book on veganism from the library next time I'm there). So wish me luck with my vegan month. And I hope I don't miss pizza too much!
Here are some photo's I took of our cats yesterday. Minni ("officially" my cat) is the brown one and Henry is the black and white one, and both of them are marvelous, loving, and beautiful creatures.