I mentioned I was going to start talking about vegan and vegetarian foods. But first, I want to start off by saying I’m not a vegan. I’m not a vegetarian. I’m also not a meat-eater. No labels, please.
What I am is someone who is making conscious choices about each meal I eat. I don’t choose to eat meat for today. But I have eaten meat in the past, and I may choose to tomorrow. I’m taking it one day at a time, much like an addict in recovery.
I was once vegan. And it drove me insane.
Veganism is like a religion. I could never seem to get it right. Not eating meat or dairy was not enough. For one, there’s the sugar thing.
Oh yeah, most sugar is a big No NO for vegans. Why? Because natural sugar is not white; processing makes it white by filtering it through the charred bones of animals. Think about THAT next time you eat a sweet.
And some vegans believe honey is a No No because it’s made by bees, while others say it’s OK because bees are insects.
There’s the leather debate. Vegans don’t buy leather. But is it OK to buy leather second-hand? If you already have leather shoes, is it OK to wear them?
There’s the debate about animal companions. Some vegans believe a “true” vegan doesn’t have pets because they cannot be fed a vegan diet. OK, there are some vegan dog foods available, but I never tried them and you should NEVER feed a cat a vegan diet. Cats can go blind without the nutrients received from meat.
And then there’s the whole issue of eating out. Truth is, many restaurants STILL don’t have even one meal on the menu that is vegan, especially here in the south.
If I was going nuts trying to figure out what is acceptable and what isn’t, you can imagine what those around me were going through.
Today I make conscious choices. I have vegan mayo (no eggs) and margarine (heart healthy!) in my refrigerator, but I also have cheese that was processed on a farm committed to humane practices. I’ll be attending a conference for work in a few weeks, and I requested vegetarian meals.
When I get that desire for a hamburger, I talk it through. Do I want a burger because my body wants meat, or have I succumbed to another clever marketing campaign by the processed food industry? Will a substitute, such as the sweet potato burger, suffice?
I see that as a much better way to eat. Before, I never once thought of the animals that provide the meat or how they are treated. I just wanted meat, and the cheaper the better. Now I am thinking about what I’m putting into my body, and what the impact will be on me, and on the world around me.
Next time, I’m going to talk about my love affair with cheese.