If you've been following me on Instagram for a while, you know that last summer I took on the challenge of eliminating animal products from my diet. I have been a vegetarian my entire life, but I felt the need to step up my game a little. Because I could. Because my body craved it. Because it felt right and the right time.
I've always staunchly believed in vegetarianism, but the full elimination of all animal products was a bit harder to fully understand. Mostly because we grow up believing things like, you have to drink milk in order to get sufficient calcium. And because cheese tasted really good.
Also, the vegans I had met weren't always the nicest individuals.
But I've always known the health implications of eating animal products. I've always known it was better to avoid it altogether. But ignoring these thoughts wasn't an issue. I can't hear you over this piece of scrumptious four cheese pizza! And if I could, there was always ice-cream to shush my conscious out.
But then last year a few little things started coming together. I met vegans who were nice, respectful and non-judgemental. They weren't hippies, or solely salad munchers. And I realized, veganism doesn't mean the stereotype. I could define what being a vegan was for myself.
Then I chose to write a paper on vegetarianism for a philosophy class. While doing my research, I realized that there was no excuse for me to not go the extra mile. I studied the implications of eating animals and animal products on, not only human health, but also the animals themselves, the environment, and the workers in animal product industry.
During this time, the local newspaper published a piece on one of the local dairy farms in our area. Someone had videotaped one of the dairy workers beating the confined cows with iron beams. Of course, the situation was taken care of, but the news spurred my dad to also consider where our food was coming from. We would talk it over, and I'd tell him about my research—about how even the legal ways hens and dairy cows are kept cannot be considered humane. And we agreed that the cows, even when not being beaten, were not kept in a healthy and just environment.
It was already a fact I knew, but my research solidified it even more—if you do it right, veganism doesn't deprive your body of essential nutrients. You need to be smart, of course, just like you do even with a carnivorous diet. But all of the food pyramid can be obtained through natural foods.
So we decided we'd take on this challenge together. We made the decision to stop buying or cooking anything with animal products. I decided to set some amendments for myself, because I knew the minute I stated I could never have something, my stubbornness would kick in.
So I decided that
1. I would never deprive myself of something I wanted to eat (if at any time my body [not mind] craved something, it was possible to make an exception).
2. I would not make things inconvenient for hosts/friends/travel (it would be better to break my diet than to offend hosts or friends; and if during travel nothing vegan could be found I would stick to vegetarianism).
It's been almost a year. There have been times when I've had something I probably shouldn't have. But things that I never thought would be possible have happened. I don't crave cheese, in fact the smell of cheese on a cheese pizza is honestly a turnoff.
I used to have constantly plugged sinuses, but combined with consistent exercise and the lack of dairy, I've been able to stop taking my steroid filled medication and no longer have trouble sleeping due to blocked airways on a regular basis. For me, this was huge!
I don't know why I'm sharing this with you. Probably because it's part of my journey and so it's important. I do know what's not the reason I'm sharing this. I do not want to tell you you have to do this. Do I believe everyone could benefit from it? Yes, absolutely! But I understand not everyone agrees. It will be so difficult for many people. For me it was easier—many vegetarian meals are vegan already. Plus, my family stopped drinking milk over a decade ago, and I've never enjoyed the taste of milk since. Also, my mother is allergic to eggs, so I've been cooking without them my whole life. But the things that made it the easiest for me was my conviction that it was the right thing to do—right by me, by the animals, by the environment.
I'd definitely encourage you to do your own research on it, especially vegetarianism. I'd encourage you to take it slow, know how you adapt to different things and make it easier for yourself. I'd like to help. All my recipes on the blog are vegan, and I will be posting more on here soon. If you're not at all interested, I'd still urge you to stick around too! You never know when a recipe might inspire you to get cooking too!
Thanks for letting me share.
What do you think about veganism/vegetarianism?
All respectful opinions welcome!