Thursday, November 13, 2008

Vegan. For a month, at least...

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.



  1. Minni looks like my Bun-Bun!! They could be sisters!!

    Good for you on your efforts!!! I'm one who always kids that Coca Cola should be a food group!! Have you ever tried Indian food or quinoa? Quinoa is a great substitute for rice and a total whole grain.

  2. Thanks for the food suggestions! :-) I LOVE Indian food, and I have ever since my mother introduced it to me years ago... It's always made me happy that most of their food is vegetarian, as well as spicy. :-) And quinoa has to be one of my favorite grains. Sadly, most of the time I forget to use it, since it seems we usually have cous-cous and rice around instead of the more interesting grains like bulgar and quinoa... Thanks for reminding me of it though, I've been meaning to stock the pantry with that for a while, but keep forgetting! Now I think I'll ask my mom to make a little shopping run today...

  3. It's vitamin B12. :)

    Yeah, my story began when I was 12, with stories about the meat industry. Couldn't take it and so I promptly informed my parents that I wasn't going to eat meat. Unfortunately, they weren't as supportive, and I was still at the 'Parents-are-right-about-everything' stage, so I just went back to the sausages. But the more I researched, the more irked I was that I was still eating animals. I worked at an organic farm over the summer when I was 14, and met a guy there who was raised vegetarian, and it inspired me so much! About a month before my 15th birthday, I plead with my parents to let me go veg. After much argument, I finally did. It lasted for 2 or 3 months. I was SO happy, but my Mum 'couldn't handle it', so after a noisy rumble, I went back to eating meat. Over the summer I became lazy, and started eating a lot of it again. Fall came around, and I began to feel guilty. Researched again, and had an awesome chat with my piano teacher and her husband, who happen to be veg as well, on Dec. 10, 2007. The next day I was given a hot dog, and half way through it, I felt disgusting. I agreed to eat Christmas dinner, but other than that, no more. I just basically refused to eat it. Only twice have I eaten meat since. Once in early January, because I was in such a hurry that I didn't care whether the chili had meat in it or not, and once in May when my pizza got mixed up with another pizza. I felt so gross after that!

    That's my story. I plan to attempt veganism when I'm on my own, but at this point, my parents are just barely getting used to me being veg, and I think shocking them with veganism would be a little hard. Besides, in a year or two I'll be gone anyway. :)

    Good luck! :)

  4. Aw, super cute cats! Isn't it amazing how much we love these furry creatures? I realize that my soul could even process this much love until I adopted Taffy (my pug). I know that sounds really corny, but I love my dog like she's my child or something.....

    Good luck with being vegan! Like you, at age five or six I decided to become vegetarian. Unlike you, I decided on this mainly because I had eaten WAY TOO MANY hot dogs and ended up throwing up all night, and that's enough to make a five-year-old me never eat them again. As I got older I learned more and more about animal cruelty, and decided that this whole being vegetarian thing is WAY COOL!!!!!

    Kudos to you for trying out veganism! I wish I was brave enough to do that, but I love cheese too much :( keep us posted!

  5. Thanks Sheila! I'll have to remember to take those B vitamins then...

    Aw, it sounds like your path to veggie-ness was a lot more difficult than mine! :-( I'm glad you're happily vegetarian now though! :-) It was probably easier also for me that I've never even really liked meat much... It didn't feel like I was giving up much, even when I was six!

    I hope both of us can manage veganism eventually... I really don't know whether I'll keep it up after this month or not. Only time will tell I guess.

    Aren't they just adorable?? It doesn't sound corny at all. Pets become part of the family, and sometimes best friends or children. Sometimes they just become so close to us...

    So cool that you're vegetarian too Stella! I know I'm going to miss cheese. I just don't know how much I'm going to miss it... That's why this is a bit of a test, to see how happy I am being vegan! Too much dairy makes me feel sick, and so do eggs, so I figure it's probably better for me anyway... I'm already kinda missing pizza though... :-(

  6. How about getting some Boboli pizza shells (or something similar)and build a pizza to your own specifications? It might make for some fun experimentation? I don't know if I could totally give up cheese . I love grilled cheese sandwiches and eating pepperjack too much. You mentioned bulgur wheat--which reminds me of one of my FAVORITE things to eat--tabouli!!! I also love Middle Eastern Food-- sleek, mujaddara (SP?) hummus, baba ghanoj, stuffed grape leaves, and the like...

  7. I feel the same way about eggs and dairy. I can feel rather icky with too much.

    Oh yes! Tabouli! And Hummus! And Falafel! Yummmm....and all vegan. :D

  8. I know this is an old post, but as an unschooling former vegan, I just want to encourage you to check out the books Full Moon Feast by Jessica Prentice & The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith.
    I'm so deeply sorry if it sounds like I'm proselytizing, I just wish someone had told me before I had felt the physical consequences of being veg, and you seem smart & open-minded enough to consider some new information.
    Sadly what's really unsustainable (for the world and our health as humans) is agricultural products - grains, beans, etc.
    These women are both environmentally minded, health-concious former vegans who've said it better than I ever could.

    If you're hungry for more info, this foundation is full of traditional wisdom from indigenous cultures -

    I wish you luck & good health in all your journeys,

  9. @Anonymous: Old posts can still get interesting comments. :-)

    I've been meaning to check out The Vegetarian Myth for a while... I've heard interesting things about it.

    As for "feeling the physical effects", well, I've been vegetarian since I was 8 (by choice), and I haven't suffered any negative affects that I've noticed (neither have the other vegetarians I know)! I don't believe that being vegetarian, or even vegan, negatively affects *most* peoples health. Some people really do need meat to feel healthy! But, many don't. I don't plan on eating meat any time in the foreseeable future (I have this thing that I'm only willing to eat something that I would be willing to personally *harvest* or *kill*, so that excludes meat for me anyway).

    I'm also planning on learning more about the "paleo" diet, which I think is what you're advocating... Thanks for the link! Again, I don't plan on giving up grains or beans anytime soon. I am always seeking to get my food as locally and as organically as possible, however. Hopefully eventually even growing all of my own food! I recognize that ALL industrial food production is unsustainable and harmful, not just the production of meat, and I know very well that the world turning vegetarian is neither an intelligent nor viable way to Save The Earth (despite what PETA may say!).

    Anyway, eating habits are an interesting topic, and one I plan on writing more about at some point...