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.