Saturday, September 18, 2010

To Vegan, or not to Vegan?

I've been making some changes in my life having to do with healthy living + decided that I wanted to devote some time in this space to exercise + diet. I think most would agree that neither diet nor exercise is ever as productive alone as when they are done together. The exercise can be played around with, however diet + dieting in a healthful way is something that needs to be taken a bit more seriously. Recently, when I was considering my dietary options, I found myself comming full circle to a Vegan diet. From a practical standpoint, #1, one of my best friends has been Vegan for most of her adult life and is also a trained Vegan chef {although she no longer works in that field}. She taught me so much about how to cook delicious vegan foods, but also taught me about how to be vegan in a healthy way {ie, what foods carry what essential nutrition + what supplements to take to make sure you are getting the nutrition you need}. This friend is the reason I was vegan in the past. This is a way of eating that I know how to do, so in that way alone, it works.
Another rather ridiculous reason I enjoy a Vegan diet brings me to #2; I'm a pig. Seriously. My Mister and I have ZERO sense of portion control. When I sit down to eat a meal, I don't want to measure portions or count points. With a vegan diet, I know that I can stuff my face with what is on my plate, have a nice full belly and know that what I ate is healthy...and will not go right to my a**.


Reason #3 for adopting a Vegan diet is more philisophical. Consider this: there is NO OTHER MAMMAL THAT DRINKS ANOTHER ANIMAL'S BREAST MILK. And that is essentially what cow milk is, food for baby cows. We loose our ability to process "milks" around the age of 3 {or so} when children would typically stop nursing. Also, consider this: While some are lucky enough to live on a farm, most of us do not. We are left to puchase foods from an idustry, that even at it's best, is still responsible for the mistreatment of animals. Sure, some tricky language might be used like "cage free" or "grass fed", but that is only part of the whole picture. Most of the time, we prefer to remain ignorant to the fact that there is still a great deal of fear and suffering that goes along with the food many people buy. Ignorance is bliss, but when I do stop to think about this "inconvenient truth", well, I just don't want to put that kind of negative energy into my body, nor do I want to support that industry by giving it my money.

I apologize and promise that the above paragraph is the most preachy I will ever get on the topic. Because the truth is that I am not the world's best vegan. Sure, it can be easy to fall off of the wagon, but what is important is to come back around to doing what is right by your body and mind. I say this only to show that we are all human...perfection is not a requirement for being VEGAN, and I would hate to think that anyone would be discouraged from attempting this way of living becasue they feel they are "not as good" as other more self- righteous vegans...know what I mean? As a mama, I don't label myself "VEGAN", as I feel that being fanatical about anything is just not so great for my littles. I'm also not one to go around and throw away every leather boot I own. I will never waste, however, when I am feeling committed, I do think twice about whether I buy certain leather items. As far as day to day living is concerned, with there always being some holiday or birthday to celebrate, you know, I might splurge on a bite of a dessert that someone made from super scratch even if it has butter in it...OR, {more likely} I might not and just bring my own Vegan desserts to the events I attend?

that brings me to thought #4, my tummy. I know I mentioned before that we begin to stop making the enzyme that digests breast milk {dairy} at around 3. Here is the truth, I'm half Italian, if I could I would live on white pasta + cheese for the rest of my life! However, at around age 13, I started having horrible stomach aches. I'm not lactose intolerant per se, but I think these stomach aches were a combination of hormonal changes in my body, stress and the food I was eating. Today, many would call this IBS? It is just terrible, but you know, when I am eating a vegan diet, I don't feel this way. When I think about "splurging" on something, I know what the consequences might be. When I do eat well {and travel with food options I can eat} my skin is clear and the eczema-esque roughness on the backs of my arms all but disappears. All of these things I mentioned are obvious reactions to something I was putting in my body that was not right for me. The question becomes, is it worth it?


So that is my schpiel on being Vegan. It is not always easy. We live in a society where people are bowled over by the idea that you might deprive yourself of anything {like if you say you don't drink, or don't eat meat, etc.}, while being very lenient on super unhealthy behaviors indulged in occassionally {like it's no big deal if a person only smokes cigarettes when they are at a party, etc.} So while I love the fact that my body feels healthy, my skin is clear + my tummy doesn't hurt, I am also reaping the "mental feel good" that comes along with loosing weight and liking how I look.


So if you are thinking about adopting any kind of diet, first look into the nutrition. Next consider your lifestyle and the cooking options. Perhaps buy a couple of cookbooks. Eating Vegan style works for me becasue the philisophy makes sense, I like to cook, like to eat large portions + like to maintain my weight. I offer my family a wide variety of foods, from cheese to soymilk, turkey to "tofurky". While I don't ever force the issue, I am always pleased when my littles choose a lentil burger over a cow burger. And I think that is what diet and weightloss should be about for everyone, making healthy choices based on a change in the way we think about food, health and sustainablity.

I will post regularly on some of the cookbooks, websites and recipes I use. Please feel free to ask questions or share your own recipes. I am not by any means a nutrition expert and would never recommend being Vegan to anyone who is not going to eat the right foods as it would be quite unhealthy. But even if you are not looking to adopt any diet strictly, I think that you would still enjoy incorporating some of the foods and philosophies into the meals + minds of those you love.

1 comment:

  1. yeah, so i'm a couple months behind but i had to comment! this is an amazing post! i agree with not being an all or nothing vegan. i call myself an 'always learning vegan'...actually i don't tell people that's what i call myself, but anyways...there are always new things that i am discovering that have animal products in them. i always cook vegan for myself and everyone knows that is the way i eat. as far as non food products, i am always swithcing to vegan products. it is a slow process (i still haven't got to make up) but i feel good that i am making at least a bit of a difference. :)
    i will definitely be coming by your blog more often :)


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