A few thoughts on “going” vegan or vegetarian
April 25, 2012
The countdown is seriously on for heading up north for the weekend (eek!) and then even farther north for a whole week! Brandon’s taking me on a honeymoon excursion to Niagara Falls and Toronto. I’ve never been to either so I am SUPER excited. One of my favorite bloggers (www.ohsheglows.com) was sweet enough to answer an email from me and gave me a few suggestions for what Vegan friendly restaurants to hit up and I’m hoping we can make it to one or two of them. We will (of course) be checking out a baseball game while in Toronto, so I’m pretty excited about that! Other than that, I’m not sure what all we have planned, but I can’t wait to share :)
Because I’ve been in major “eat all of the perishables out of my fridge before we leave” mode, my meals have been the farthest thing from exciting (we’re talking salads, veggie burgers and reheated pizza leftover from the weekend). My workouts have been next to non-existent with the last minute details and work stresses to be dealt with. So figuring out what to write about has been especially difficult this past week. So I thought I share a few posts that I read this morning that were really relevant to me.
For those of you who don’t know, for Lent I opted to follow a vegan diet, giving up dairy and eggs, to the best of my ability. Even though there were a few hiccups, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and even though I don’t like to label myself as a vegan, I haven’t felt any urge to indulge in cheese or eggs since Easter. For me, its been relatively easy and Brandon hasn’t done much in the way of complaining about it either. BUT, there have been more than a few times that I’ve gotten questioned (in a negative, judgy way), looked at funny or just plain old ridiculed for my choices. I’m pretty good about taking it all, to a point. But there’s a limit to everyone’s patience, a “shove a carton of Ice cream made with coconut milk in someone’s face and demand them to try it and dare me to tell them its bad” kind of limit. I don’t mean to be preachy and would never try to tell someone to be “Vegan” or “Vegetarian”, but I do think that respect for anyone’s lifestyle choices should be mutual. So when I read these few blog posts about a lot of the typical questions and rumors and stereotypes of a Vegetarian/Vegan diet, I decided it would be the perfect thing to share.
I’ll start with a post a few of my friends sent to me
The Challenge of Going Vegan – This was a post that I thought could have been so much more than what it was. Sadly, I think it fell into the same category that feeds into people’s general judgments about a Vegan diet. In particular, I think it does less to highlight the benefits of a Vegan diet and how achievable it can be and more to scare people away from a Vegan diet. Yes, it can be expensive if you’re using a lot of the fake meat products and not even all that healthy for you. I’m the first to admit that Veggie burgers from the frozen section are DARN EXPENSIVE. But a Vegetarian or Vegan diet can be pretty affordable too. ESPECIALLY if you make those veggie burgers! They’re so easy to make and the ingredients don’t HAVE to be overwhelming. If you stick to the produce and things like beans, rice, grains that you know and already familiar with, you can try one or two new things at a time, rather than feeling like everything is new and different. Plus, I truly believe that if you go into a Vegan or Vegetarian diet with the mindset that you have to find a suitable replacement for your steak, that you will not be happy or satisfied. For me, the fun was finding out new flavors, rather than finding a good fake steak (I don’t think there is one, either).
Motherhood-vegan-parenting Next up is this really well written post by a new blog I found this morning. I really appreciated her views on raising a child vegan. With the upcoming wedding, the idea of family inevitably comes to mind. And of course that brings the idea of raising a child as a possible vegetarian. This has come under small attack in random conversations, but I really liked the idea presented here that any diet can be healthy or unhealthy, including vegetarian or vegan diets. The POINT is that we teach our kids how to make the healthiest decisions possible. Not in a restrictive sense, but in a well-balanced sense. It also brings up a great point, that a vegetarian or vegan diet can take some effort at first, ESPECIALLY if you’re idea of cooking is throwing a Hungry Man’s frozen dinner into the microwave, or hey – even a vegan frozen meal. You need to understand how to be healthy as a meat eater, vegetarian, vegan or ANYTHING in order for the diet to be considered good for you.
Finally, shortly after reading that article, I stumbled across this post, over at nomeatathlete, Veggie Myths , where the author takes on what a lot of vegetarians or vegans face each and every day. The dreaded “how do you…” questions. I think he did a great job of generally responding to some common myths about being a vegetarian. Yes we get enough protein, no we don’t think fake meat tastes like real meat, yes we can be athletic and strong and competitive, no we don’t set up tofu shrines and pray to the all powerful soybean every night, etc etc etc.
If I can add my own two cents – and I will, I think what people tend to miss when they think about all of the things that aren’t “normal” about a vegan meal, is how fun it can be. When I get asked about things like this, I remind them that a lot of the meals they eat everyday are vegetarian friendly already (pizza, pasta, salads, soups, etc). What I wish, is that people who aren’t vegan or vegetarian and have no inclination to be (which is fine), would just be a tad more open minded about it all. A vegan meal every now and then isn’t going to turn you into a vegan, but if you let go of certain preconceived ideas, it may actually surprise you by being tasty J
Anyone else have thoughts about this – similar posts to share?
ps – as an added bonus, I wanted to share this fun, but informative post by Alicia Silverstone over at http://www.thekindlife.com. I’ve been on a huge kick for trying to go more eco friendly these days and these tips are a good reminder of the little things we can do :) She also has a fun post on ways to get your kids involved too, which you can read here . I love the idea of getting the kids to help sort out the recycling and teaching them why.