Ten Hardest Things About Going Vegan

Over the past year-and-a-half, meat and meat by-products have slowly been disappearing from our shopping lists.  Partly for health, partly for our food budget, the move was hugely for the farm animals we mindlessly began calling “food.”

A few weeks ago, it was official.  A cold splash in the face, a wake-up call to the fact that even though we were doing quite a bit already, portions of our diet were still (unknowingly) perpetuating the industry we were loath to change.  It was time to put up or shut up.

I don’t shut up easily.

What a surprisingly pleasant journey it’s been!  Filled with new friends, a renewed connection to our environment, tasty new recipes, vegan modifications to some old favorites, we spring forth with a new respect for the trillions of beings already sacrificed (but that will no longer be sacrificed) just for the seconds of pleasure spent on our taste buds.

It’s not all been peaches and cream coconut milk.

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Ten Hardest Things About Going Vegan

1.  Awkwardness.  My saying “no thank you” to the meat dishes served at functions and social luncheons, instead loading my plate with salad greens and fruit, piques people’s curiosity.  Obviously fit and in good health (I’m only slightly larger than I was 25 years ago) someone invariably asks me if I’m counting calories.

2.  Dining Out.  It can be exhausting having to specify “don’t bring the butter” or “no cheese please” on vegetarian menu items.  I continue to be amazed at how dairy-entrenched restaurants are — even ones who claim a solid vegan  menu.  In standard SAD restaurants, otherwise perfectly tasty beans or greens dishes have been flavored with piggy flesh, a favorite for the Texas taste bud, and though delicious, are decidedly not veggie.

3.  Dining In.  Dairy-rich desserts and ice cream (the lack of them) and the frustrating weeks of convincing four kids that there are other options out there.  In and out of the grocery, trying dozens of frozen treats, we have finally reached an accord.  Either that, or they’ve completely forgotten what ice cream tastes like.

4.  Meat “Substitutes” Not Exactly Substitutes.  Beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing.  Many of these products labeled as “meatless” contain casein, a protein extracted from cow’s milk, the liquid flesh.

5.  Tennis Court Shoes.  Impossible to find a non-leather, no-marking sole in a AA width.  I had to give up and go with a shoe that had some leather on it, though I can see a trend in the “no leather” market.  Perhaps in a few years.  But I couldn’t wait; I had holes in my soles and the shoe fit.

6.  Make-Up, Care Products, and Wool.  I really could care less about these items, but I must list them because animals are everywhere on shelves of America.  Wool is decidedly not for Texas weather, and I haven’t worn make-up or bathed in decades.  No prob for me there.

7.  Companion Animals, Big and Small.  Explaining to the kids that, in fact, no we will not be raising our own cow just so we can drink her calves’ milk.   We’ll save the energy-in-doesn’t-equal-energy-out equations (that shore up the real reasons why dairy sucks) for when their math is a little better.  No pet either.

8.  Thanksgiving Dinner.  The next function hosted by moi will be meatless, dairy-less, egg-less.  Period.  That pretty much knocks all of my family’s best traditional recipes off the menu, including Mammaw’s bacon-fat-and-turkey-dripping-laden bread dressing.  Sadly, it may knock most of my family guests off the RSVP list, too.

9.  Uncertainty With GMO’s.  Legumes (peas, soy, beans, some nuts) provide an excellent source of plant protein, but today’s agriculture trends have forced most of them into genetically-modified organisms (GMO’s) in only 10 short years.  The short-term effects of ingested GMO vegetables range from alarming – sterilized rats, dead hamsters, blue sex organs – to unknown, yet the American companies who profit from GMO’s have been left in charge of conducting further studies for the long-term effects.  No pun, but I smell a rat.  I’ll stick with mostly protein-rich leaves, for the meantime anyway.

10.  Starting a New Blog.  As if I didn’t have enough to do already.  Psh.

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21 thoughts on “Ten Hardest Things About Going Vegan

  1. You’ll have to share your experiences of getting four kids on the bandwagon! We’re not big meat eaters and I’ve thought of vegetarianism, but no dairy would be a struggle for us. Looking forward to more posts!

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    1. Dairy is absolutely the hardest. We, like most other Americans, were brain-washed by the Dairy Council as well as addicted to the sugar-and-fat feedback cycle that dairy gives to the brain. Both are intended to keep the cycle going.

      I promise to post more on kicking dairy alone, which I think is the biggest reason why most people-with-kids I know are lacto- or ovo- or lacto-ovo-vegetarians at the max.

      It was a struggle for us, too. Really. But we overcame this, much as we do anything else in life. Like math homework, learning a cartwheel, or hand-mincing garlic, effort and persistence pay off in the end.

      For me, it was a conscience and “doing the right thing” issue. Discovering that an “organic” or “pastured” label has absolutely no impact on animal welfare, there was simply no going back.

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  2. How would I know a GMO when I see one?

    I suffer through some of these items, even though I eat animal products. As you may know, I don’t eat red meat. Pig, cow, lamb, deer, moose, caribou, etc 😉 So that is always awkward and complicated to explain. And I have to check the packages of chicken sausages to make sure there aren’t sheep intestines used for the casings. Ugh! Even if I ate lamb, I wouldn’t want to eat its intestines.

    Yes, I’ve been at events where I’m eating a bread roll and mashed potatoes and looking like a psycho.

    Pork cooked with beans — there should be a law!

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    1. Well, you know, Angie? You’re my kinda psycho. 🙂

      If you haven’t checked out the page (http://wp.me/P2Ej3Y-A) yet, it may make you think differently about the poultry industry as well. Keeping meat and meat products plentiful and affordable don’t exactly keep the animals’ best interests at the surface.

      Consider this unintended consequence of the poultry industry next time you have a McNugget. Roughly half of hatched chicks are male and must be disposed of. Yes, first we “make them” get born (hatching them live), and then we promptly dispose of them (smothering, grinding live are accepted practices) when their gender is discovered.

      Male poultry are simply not wanted or needed, but they haven’t figured out how to hatch an “all female” laying and getting-fat brigade. Hm.

      It’s why I won’t eat chicken or eggs either, even the yard eggs I used to get from Bubba, my farmer down the road. It perpetuates this horrible practice.

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    2. As for GMO’s, there was a huge push for getting the FDA to label products that are fully-GMO or whose ingredients are GMO. Congress kinda took the wind out of the sails of the previous grassroots effort (millions of on-line petition signatures entered as just over “300” due to technicality).

      So now, it’s going on in CA, Prop 37. Check it out – be sure to listen to three minute piece. It’s the organism genetically modified for Bt (a pesticide) that has many concerned for its long-term effects on human consumption.
      http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/08/30/160334028/two-sides-prepare-for-california-genetically-modified-labeling-vote

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    1. I agree. I’ve read some interesting studies that suggest your fear is justified. Since the bulk of corn and soy (the top two GMO’s) go into feeding our food (a/k/a/ farm animals), I figure I’m dodging that bullet just by eliminating our intake of meat and meat products. Check and check. A two-fer.

      Corn chips, cereals, processed goods in general, I’ve never counted as “food” anyway. If there’s no nutritional benefit, we call them “treats.” Like beer, wine, or popcorn, we can live entirely without that stuff.

      Okay, maybe not beer. LOL

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  3. Great that you’re managing the change in diet with, what I am sure, are so many sets of preferences in the house. With the meat substitutes my issue is just that I prefer to avoid anything processed. We’ve been experimenting with making our own tofu (as you know), okara & veggie patties, bean based patties, and seitan this month. Will be sharing all the ones that work out well. And last night’s dessert was ice-creamy without the cream – frozen bananas in the blender make for a very rich, smooth, frozen dessert.

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    1. When one considers minimally “processed” as having few hands touching it or less energy input or little changed about a food, then yep. I’m all for minimally processed!

      But when one considers how much goes into the bagged potato chip versus a 1 lb rib-eye steak, the choice is clear. The chip wins every time.

      Personally, I like to plant it, pick it, wipe it, eat it. Aside from the GMO issue, it’s all nature and me. Minimally processed to the max.

      BTW, where do you get your soy beans?

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  4. You go, Shannon! I love to read inspiring stories when people switch to full-on veganism. I salute you! Since June, when I wrote my “Why I Became a Vegetarian” bit, I have actually been slowly eliminating a lot dairy from my diet (almond milk swapped for cow’s milk, vegan cheeses for dairy cheese, etc) and I am loving it so far. I haven’t gone full vegan, but I like to think that I am flirting with veganism. Good on ya for committing full-on!

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    1. Well, I guess I fell off the wagon a bit. I went to Bubba’s (my organic gardener) to visit him mother who just got home from the hospital after breaking her femur (!!) and having it repaired through surgery. We shared bean soup, veggie sushi, hummus and crackers…Bubba went out and collected a dozen and half eggs from his girls. And gave them to me in thanks.

      I could hardly turn them away! Plus, his hens are free-roaming and “pest control” for his garden (which isn’t up-and-running at the moment). *sigh* We had eggs for breakfast, so I guess that means I’m not “full-on” either. LOL

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    2. So glad you came by! This blog is going to be nothing, if not fun and educational. I’m working on my first substantive post at the moment – ditching dairy. Love vegan cheese. And nutritional yeast. And my kids love the vanilla almond milk (I’m a coconut a/k/a/ NUT girl, myself). 🙂

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    1. Thanks for dropping by, Little Sis! “Cheese” and “vegetarian” go hand-in-hand I find. I have met more ovo- and lacto-vegetarians than I have vegans – seems to be more the norm. Getting the low-down on the ingredients of a dish is what can ruin a dining out experience (for the wait staff, anyway), or at least slow us down to getting straight to the ordering. We’ve become big tippers…

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