In Spring of 2008, I was toying with becoming a full vegan. I spent a few years as a vegetarian in college and started really researching going all in. I even donated money to PETA. I watched their videos and ordered a ton of books from Amazon (back when that was a thing) on how to navigate being a vegan.
My main issues at the time for why I was becoming a vegan was animal cruelty and the concern of foodborne illness in commercial meat plants ie they were disgusting. There had just been a major meatpacking scare the year before and salmonella was found in salsa. Which never made any sense to me then or now.
It wasn’t the easiest transition, mostly because of dairy products. My lactose intolerance was not nearly as bad as it is now, but I found it next to impossible to avoid all types of dairy products once I left the house. Going to restaurants and traveling were pretty difficult and I kept nuts in my car for when I was still hungry after eating. I
I tried the whole faking bacon trend, but the number of chemicals in meat substitutes was super gross to me, and then it seemed silly to be eating a fake version of the food I wasn’t eating anymore because it was cruel. Wasn’t a fake version a workaround of the actual version which perpetuated the cruelty towards the chicken or the cow?
The possible traps vegan can experience:
1) Relying on vegan junk food. Larabars, Fun-yons and Slurpees are vegan, but are still chock full of chemicals and will spike our blood sugar. The same food guidelines still apply with regulating blood sugar, staying away from processed food and high fructose corn syrup.
2) Not learning about vegan nutrition needs. When selecting dairy-free alternatives, make sure you are choosing the fortified options, e.g. unsweetened soy milk is a source of calcium, vitamin B2 and vitamin B12 (which are found in milk), and also vitamin D. Humus is a good choice – the tahini (sesame seed paste) in the recipe is a good source of calcium, zinc and iron, which are all micronutrients hard to get a hold of on a vegan diet.
3) Being unprepared. As a meat eater there was a confidence I had going into a restaurant I could find something to eat. Granted, I might not be thrilled with it, but there was always a grilled chicken breast over salad greens, even at a diner in NYC at 2 am. As a vegan, the preparation I had to do to travel or to know which restaurants I could go to was extensive. Additionally, servers in restaurants are not as knowledgeable as they should be about cross contamination in the kitchen and how much butter cooks use even in sautéed vegetables or bread. They also tend to only care if you are allergic to dairy, not if you don’t care to eat it for 5 or so other reasons.
The benefits of being a vegan are significant: they live longer, spend less on groceries, eat at home more often, are considered healthier in general, and have less of a personal impact on the environment due to their lack of of animal protein consumption.
Tomorrow: Something is Fishy about our Fish
The reason I stopped being a vegan, I got pregnant with my Son the Summer of 2008 and craved MEAT. It was the craziest thing, it was as if the baby wanted it. I eat meat now, less than I used to. My now 9-year-old eats a ton of it and always has. Go figure..