"Huh. I haven’t eaten cheese in six years."
I’m not. It’s the easiest thing in the world, a decision I made six years ago today, and arguably the one practice an individual can undertake that has the greatest impact. Sure, vote, volunteer, do all that — but changing what you consume, reaches WAY beyond yourself.
Need more reasons to join me? Here’s five (give or take an archive):
- You’d Rather Eat Food Than Poop and Suffering. When Burger King acknowledges that the farming practices that supply their restaurants are bad enough to change, can you IMAGINE the rest of the stuff you’ve put in your mouth? Try it. Look here, then look at your scrambled eggs.
- You Will Not Feel Deprived. How could you possibly when you can make your own falafel and Ethiopian red lentils from scratch? “So what do you eat?” “Everything.” Animal products aren’t even a sliver of the pie chart of consumables. Mmm. Pie. (Yep, you can have that too.)
- You Enjoy a Habitat That Supports Carbon-Based Life. “More than two-thirds of all agricultural land is devoted to growing feed for livestock, while only 8 percent is used to grow food for direct human consumption…the global livestock industry uses dwindling supplies of freshwater, destroys forests and grasslands, and causes soil erosion, while pollution and the runoff of fertilizer and animal waste create dead zones in coastal areas and smother coral reefs.” Hey, if a 12 year old can understand and articulate the impact, how about we help out and not flood our planet with manure bogs. Unless you like that sort of thing.
- It’s Hard to Find a Reason TO Eat It. When the New York Times has to run an essay contest to come up with an ethical argument for eating it, isn’t it way easier to shun it than to try and justify your nugget? (I justified wearing this shirt today to celebrate my vegiversary on account that it’s true in a sense and also funny.)
- You Feel Like Not Being Sick. I am not allowed to donate blood. I am healthy with an often-needed blood type — but no one can benefit from it l because I lived in the UK after 1980. Mad cow. So, you can’t give blood if you have AIDS or if you’ve eaten beef. And yes, it was a dairy cow they found this week, but holes in your brain v. hamburger… Not to mention all the good fats, the good cholesterol, the actual fuel your body needs, don’t get spelled E-I-E-I-O.
- Honorable Mention: Vegenaise. Game, set, mayo.
I’ve never been a proselytizing vegan. I model good vegan behavior, I answer questions when asked, usually with, “No really, it’s incredibly easy,” and I don’t make what I eat, a “thing” for others.
My choice/your choice. I say who, I say when.
It’s been almost six years now, and I may be…too far gone. Past the point where I can aid and abet a non-herb lifestyle. I was at the grocery store last night, shopping for dinner ingredients. And I passed through the meat section.
Now, other common answers given include: “It’s primarily environmental and health reasons,” “I grew up on a farm, supermarket animal products are too far removed from the source,” “I can’t support factory farming,” but usually not talking points in the animal-rights wing of thought.
But in the meat section of this Italian grocery store, wrapped in plastic on a foam tray, was a creature’s tongue. It is no dramatization to say, my vision got black around the edges and I had to turn away and hold onto a shelf until the store stopped spinning.
Now Roger, got it, different cultures eat different things, but this, that sight, that isn’t geographically cultural. It’s a very literal argument against civilization. Barbarians cut out tongues as punishment, horrifically silencing those they conquered. Sadly, it’s not all ancient history. If that story shocks you, why would it be any different if it happened to any other creature?
I think a lot of people eat meat because how we see it in the store or on the plate, doesn’t resemble where it came from. A chop doesn’t look like a baby lamb. I don’t have that disconnect anymore. And that tongue yesterday, made it all too loud what we’re doing, we who claim to be some sort of advanced society.
How? How can one claim to be capable of advanced and critical thought, and participate in a practice like that? Especially when so many of us have the luxury of getting to choose what we eat.
Besides. Who needs meat when you have better things to roast?
(Pictured: Soon-to-be Lemon-Rosemary Roasted Potatoes and Carrots with Baby Onions.)
[Coconut] Creamy Pumpkin Chipotle Soup
The last recipe I invented* and posted was in December 2007. Four years later, if I post it, rest assured your face needs to eat it. Bonus, it’s SO easy.
1 large can of pumpkin (not the sweet-for-pie kind — plain.)
2 cans of coconut milk. (Light is acceptable.)
2 chipotle peppers (from a can.)
2-4 cups of vegetable stock, depending on how thick you like your soup.
Cumin, curry, salt, pepper to taste.
Chop and carmelize the onions in olive oil.
Dump in pumpkin, coconut milk, and vegetable stock.
Take the seeds out of the peppers (OMG SO IMPORTANT) and mince. Dump in to mixture, add a spoonful of the pepper-can sauce if you like your business hot.
Add your spices. You know. Like a small pile in your palm of the cumin and curry. Either/both, depending on what your tongue likes.
Bring to a light boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Add corn if you’re feeling fiesta.
*”I made this last night, courtesy of my organic produce delivery box (and then I went out and camped in a tree and fashioned a tunic out of hemp and leaves…)”
See? Four years later and I still only camp if it’s professionally mandated.
Riddle me this, Don Draper.
Vega is a pretty cool company — plant-based performance foods created by vegan professional Ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier. Promoting the fact that you can be an elite athlete without animal protein is inspiring and important.
How come then, in the ad for the Vega Complete Whole Food Health Optimizer, among the nutritional attributes, do they tout:
Protein = 4 farm fresh eggs.
Iron = 29 oz. of beef.
Omega 3s = 6 oz. wild salmon.
Calcium = 5 cups of milk.
Probiotics = 100g. yogurt.
Yet on the the MyVega site they are careful to note: “3) Made with all natural, plant-based ingredients (absolutely no animal products).”
That’s a plateful of contradiction right there. Besides the fact that they’re making the argument that somehow a plant-based diet isn’t complete without nutrients that exist in Old MacDonald’s barnyard, if you choose not to eat animal products, one of the big reasons is that the idea of eating animal products is foul. And fowl. Both.
The ad is in a women’s bodybuilding mag, so perhaps they think they have to buckle to pressure from the “egg white and whey” crowd to be heard.
But aren’t you — and your message — are stronger if you don’t?
Update: Vega responded via Twitter:
@zoestagg Thx Zoe, it’s a graphic representation showing that u don’t need those items to get the required nutrition- it’s in our WFHO:)
I like that they did. I would still personally prefer not looking at raw beef and fish when considering a product to consume, but I dig their company mission and appreciate that they took the time to reply.
"I know of nothing else in medicine that can come close to what a plant-based diet can do."
And a synopsis of the film Forks Over Knives.
Can a vegan diet cure the world? Perhaps…
Really, guys? The natural melting point of sugar water needs to be altered with your Jesus Frankenstein recipe?
Hey, foods on a stick are very trendy. So why not some “collagen extracted from the boiled bones, connective tissues, organs and some intestines of animals such as domesticated cattle, and pigs”? Mmm. Flaaaavor.
In other news, kids today can’t manage to eat normal popsicles. Send help, and a lawn.
I’m a sucker for stunt journalism. After all, five-and-a-half years later, I’m still a vegan.
I’m also a sucker for the Dollar Store. Or as they have over here, a Super Dollar Store.
This guy ate nothing but the stuff he could buy at Dollarama for a week. (Though, he’s Canadian, which does something for the “dollar” concept too, eh?)
Entertaining, but it seems like he was spending about $5-6 a day on food. I know the food world is cheaper when you’re not buying creatures, but I’d think a can of beans, a cup of rice, a head of broccoli and some oatmeal would have run him about the same.
Though. The Dollar Store has some maple cookie things that are totally vegan because chemicals are not animals. I might have joined him..
George Bernard Shaw’s writer’s hut on a LAZY SUSAN.
The 8x8 shack twirls to make best use of the sun, and really, what more could one want for?
I thought our taste in simple real estate* was our only similarity, but St. Wiki gives us this:
Shaw became a vegetarian while he was twenty-five, after hearing a lecture by H.F. Lester. In 1901, remembering the experience, he said “I was a cannibal for twenty-five years. For the rest I have been a vegetarian.”
And look! He was like the Jenny McCarthy of his day. On vaccinations:
"[They’re] a particularly filthy piece of witchcraft"
He advocated good hygiene and no meat instead.
"A man of my spiritual intensity does not eat corpses."
Innnteresting. Also, LAZY SUSAN.
*Previously on places I want to live: My dream house/writer’s hut.
And so, it ends. The Bro’s month of veganism. Here’s his wrap up — allow me to direct your attention to that which made me snort: “big bag of hammered buttholes.” And, “beans and magic.” Proof, I’d think, that I didn’t ghostwrite a single sentence. And now, the Q & A…
Me: I am so delighted and proud you did this. Even though it was a bet, I love what a good sport you were about it — I have some questions:
Did you notice a difference in your energy/how you felt? What was the worst part of it? The best? What do you think you might continue? Was there an aspect of…having to think more about what you were eating that changed your ideas about food in any way? And CONGRATULATIONS.
The Bro: I am sort of proud of myself not going to lie. Today is in fact my last vegan day so no I am not going to continue the trend. In fact I am at work for a few hours and on my way home I am purchasing Burgerville so it will be waiting for the clock to strike midnight.
I haven’t noticed much of a change in energy but I also haven’t experienced the post meal tired feeling I have in the past. That’s probably because my body is fighting so hard to squeeze something useful out of that damn tofu.
The worst part was the first week. I didn’t know what to cook and I tried to use products that mimic the real thing. Worst mistake I made. I don’t care what it is (except boca burgers) every product that claims to taste like meat or sour cream etc. actually tastes like a big bag of hammered butt holes.
The best part of the whole experience was being able to create meals that were really edible if not good…if nothing else it will make me a better cook. The thing I might continue is the idea that you don’t have to have meat to make a meal but I would rather have it! (Ed. Love this. We will just call this, “success”.)
I suppose being vegan has taught me to be more mindful about what the body actually needs to survive…turns out you can live for a month on different variations of beans and magic. This whole vegan thing isn’t as bad as I once thought. It just isn’t for me.
Fair enough. But he did it. And I might not have created a vegan, but I might have created a blogger…