I have been interested in health and nutrition for a long time. I became a vegetarian at 13 but that was more about animal rights and my spiritual path rather than for health reasons. I have never been convinced that meat and animal foods were necessary for human health, even though people tried to bully me into eating my meat as a kid. I knew too many lifelong vegetarians, vegans, Jains and a wide assortment of people who were healthier than my meat eating diabetic, heart troubled relatives with their self righteous opinions on superior nutrition. Fortunately, over the years, vegetarianism has become main-stream and books like The China Study made me jump up in glee.
I must interject at this point that I respect everyone’s right to eat whatever feels healthy to them. I do believe that there are environmentally responsible and humane ways of meeting the meat requirements of those who need it and that it is worthwhile to reform the meat industry to these standards of quality and ethics. Similarly, I also believe that agriculture also needs major overhauls, think GMOs, broad scale pesticides, chemical fertilizers, soil degradation etc. Many vegan foods such as soy, corn and wheat among others are also grown in ways that are extremely detrimental to the environment and by extension, to biodiversity and animal life. I stress here vegetarianism is a personal choice based on my belief that a plant based diet is healthier for most humans and as a stand against animal cruelty. With that disclaimer… let’s move on…
I have dabbled with veganism on and off over the years but it never stuck. I always felt wonderful and healthy on it but the social awkwardness didn’t seem worth it. You get to be one of those people who go out or go to a friend’s house and quiz them about ‘hidden’ ingredients. Is there any whey in the veggie stock you used to make this dish? And you have to cook all your own meals, prepare your own condiments and sauces to avoid the paranoia. When you’re young and busy…who has the time? But I haven’t honestly tried being vegan again for about 5 years so maybe the world has changed to accommodate it better. Now that I’m older (36), I’m starting to think that great health is worth some social awkwardness. I enjoy cooking, gardening and farming... things I absolutely had no time for in years past. So, becoming vegan is sounding more attractive to me.
I have been reading about raw veganism and completed a few short “detoxes”- they were blissful. I am a little worried that becoming a raw vegan may lead to complete social isolation - carrying apples and carrots in your bag, being asked if you are anorexic or a member of some weird cult. Getting so marginalized that eventually, you have to run off and live in a forest with other raw vegans, fruitarians and the like… While living a more natural and simple life definitely appeals to me, I think that a life based around dietary choices is actually quite limiting. The freedom of being able to travel and live anywhere, socialize with all sorts of people, have a large assortment of good friends from rabid meat eaters to enlightened breatharians and everything in between is something that I do appreciate. I don’t want my dietary choices to limit my experiences in life or shut others out. In any case, I don’t want to create a self identity that is based around food or food activism. I believe that we are all more than what we eat.
I want to enjoy being a vegan – to eat good, healthy tasty food. I want to explore world cuisines and discover new veggies, fruits, tastes and flavors.
I’m hoping that you wonderful vegans around the world will free to get in touch with me, share links for blogs, recipes, vegan restaurants, personal experiences and anything that will help. I also hope that as I become a more seasoned vegan, you can hit me up for tips and any support (non medical) that you need.
So..the journey begins