Anyone who knows me, knows that I love food – Always have, always will.
I’m usually planning my next snack or meal shortly after finishing what’s in front of me. There’s not much I won’t eat (or at least try) and I refuse to leave the table feeling hungry. Who knew I could still enjoy all of the above and basically just eat plants? I didn’t believe it either.
When my boyfriend first suggested that we start reducing the amount of meat we consume, I felt pretty comfortable with the idea. Prices for meat products had significantly risen anyway, so only using it for one meal a day was easy-peasy and cost-effective. After a few weeks, my boyfriend then suggested we cut meat out altogether. I was a bit hesitant on the idea, thinking of all of my favourite meals I’d miss out on like turkey dinner, tacos, and lasagna. I didn’t want to give up on some of the foods I really enjoyed, but after some convincing we transitioned into a vegetarian diet. Thankfully, we didn’t starve. We starting trying more new recipes and discovered we really enjoyed cooking together. After a few more months went by, my boyfriend suggested the unthinkable, “We should go vegan.”
Vegan means no animal products. No meat. No milk. No yoghurt. No cheese. No eggs. If it came from an animal, in any way, it’s a no-no. My first thought on the idea of going vegan? “No. Way.” I thought it was too extreme and I thought it was unhealthy. Where were we going to get our protein? We already stopped eating meat, so didn’t we need foods like eggs and cheese for protein? I also didn’t want to be perceived as a hippie and not be able to eat out at restaurants. Above all, I didn’t want to complicate things. Cutting out meat was a relatively easy transition, but cutting out ALL animal products sounded unbelievably overwhelming.
It’s now been almost a year – I still haven’t starved (sigh of relief) and most importantly, I’m still enjoying delicious, healthy, and satisfying foods every day. My diet is about 95% vegan and 5% vegetarian. When I’m at home, I eat a fully vegan diet (which also includes the lunches I make each day for work). This did involve some adjustments in grocery shopping, but really only took a few weeks to get used to what my new staples would be. I resort to a vegetarian diet for anything else. If I’m going somewhere where the food prep is out of my control, I just do my best to east as vegan as possible. Some people might think this is a hypocritical concept, but it’s what I’m currently comfortable and happy with in terms of transitioning my diet. I’ve made significant changes so far and I think that I’m on the right path forward.
So, why go vegetarian/vegan in the first place? Why cut out foods everyone enjoys like bacon, burgers, eggs, and cheese?
I have two main reasons for you to consider:
- For the animals – We all know that animal cruelty happens in the farming industry. Cows are artificially inseminated over and over again, while their newborn calves are dragged away just so we can drink their milk. Chickens are claimed to be “free range” but they’re still kept in crammed quarters and their beaks clipped off. Newborn male chicks are still thrown away (live) since they won’t lay eggs. For some reason, we’re outraged at the thought of violence against a pet (we have laws to protect our dogs and cats), but we turn a blind eye when it comes to any other animal. We can’t deny the fact that these animals are suffering just because we like they way they taste.
- For the environment – This might be a newer concept for some people, but the farming industry is one of the top contributors to the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. This is helping to drive the effects of climate change we’re experiencing around the world. From the fuel used to transport the animals, the water needed for raising/processing the animals, and to the methane released from the animals (yes, I mean cow farts), it all adds up to polluting our environment. So even if you don’t care about animal welfare, you can at least care about our planet and it surviving for generations to come.
Choosing to reduce or eliminate animal products from your diet is such a simple way to have a positive impact on the world. Giving up animal products is such a small sacrifice to support two very important causes. By eating a predominantly plant-based diet, I’m healthy, happy, and doing my small part as a global citizen.
I bet most of you are now going to proceed to give a lecture on how unhealthy it is to eliminate animal products from your diet (I’m guilty of giving a similar lecture to my boyfriend). You’re thinking about how we need meat for protein and cow milk for calcium. That’s what we’ve been taught for the last 100 years or more. I’m happy to say that this is not the case!
Stick around for my next post and I’ll walk you through some of most common myths about going vegetarian/vegan (all of which I was weary about myself).