I’ve been trying the vegan diet for a month now. It is one of my thought experiments that has become a life experiment.
What is a vegan anyway?
It’s not just eating “rabbit food” as some of my friends have joked with me. In trying to define what vegan is, it occurred to me that what I’ve become is an herbivore. Nothing to be ashamed of there. I love animals and herbivores include some of my favorites–the gentle and patient cow, the swift and powerful horse, the formidable rhino, the majestic and intelligent elephant. So I’m a vegan, but not a rabbit.
What was the hardest thing to give up?
Definitely the milk in coffee was the last thing to go. Now I leave out the milk but make the coffee stronger, add a cinnamon stick to the cup, and then sugar. It actually tastes better this way. The vegan diet wasn’t about taste, but then when it comes to coffee, it is about taste.
How does it feel to be a vegan?
I feel great. An unexpected pleasure is that I feel lighter, cleaner, less confused and guilt ridden about what I’m eating. I had heard that eating animal products is linked to feelings of anger and aggression. The origins of the food may affect the person who eats it, and so for example an animal that suffered can transmit suffering. This seems like an extension of the physical truth that things don’t cease to be, matter is not created nor destroyed but is ever changing form. Remembering scientist Jane Goodall’s analysis in “Harvest for Hope: A Guide for Mindful Eating”, it’s clear that vegan eating is lighter on the planet.
Have a look at her take on our responsibilities to the animals and the earth in this talk she gave at TedTalks embedded here.
What do vegans eat?
Lots of new things here in the categories of vegetables, fruits, and grains. Capers and black olives on marinara pizza without cheese are wonderful. Paper thin pastries filled with guava and fried are sinfully pleasant. Dried strawberries are a surprising spring treat bursting with the taste of sunshine if it has a taste. Varieties of hummus I hadn’t thought of before and couscous, millet, barley, which are staples in some communities but new to me…the discoveries of new foods continue.
One caveat, I only feel great if I remember to include at least one high protein item, like a soy shake, and take an iron supplement each day. This is essential for feeling energetic.
I didn’t lose any physical weight but have shrugged off a different kind of burden, a psychological one of guilt.
I think my new self classification in the herbivore group is going to last for quite some time.
For Jane Goodall’s book see http://www.amazon.com/Harvest-Hope-Guide-Mindful-Eating/dp/0446533629
For the photo of African Wildlife:http://www.awf.org/section/wildlife/rhinos
20 responses to “Vegan for a Month”
regarding the coffee: coffee + soya milk (in Germany it’s called “soya drink”); give it a try.
Thanks Joachim, I’ll try soy milk. So many ways to enjoy the plants and no need to include animal products I’m finding.
Great video of Jane Goodall. Isn’t she amazing? Thank you for posting this. I loved her monkey call 🙂 My husband and I are very aware of the human hubris toward the others we share our world with. I feel much of it comes from the bible, unfortunately. All that about dominion. We choose to interpret it as ‘caretakers’ rather than ‘users’.
Love your blog and have added it to my blogroll, Jennifer 🙂
Just wanted to voice a little support for Cynthia’s point about the affect that organized religion has on people’s feelings of entitlement about food. I usually don’t mention that whole issue cause the meat-eating topic is already heavy to begin with. But yeah – it’s ironic that those who preach compassion and love feel that animals are beneath those feelings. Hmmm, maybe I’d be a church-goer if all living beings were truly included in those prayers.
Cynthia I do love Jane Goodall’s point of view. She’s so direct and clear when she expresses her views about the planet and ways to lighten our footprint. I hesitate to think mistreatment of animals relates to religions, since some religions and religious people are so completely mindful and careful about all the creatures. It’s so easy to misuse faith to justify misguided steps and even war, but faith can also lead toward clarity–sometimes better than science can. When I think about it, I don’t see a human’s place on earth as any different from any other creature and not above them–but I’m sure I’m in the minority with that one!
So glad you’re enjoying an animal friendly diet. My tiny plastic co-writers and I stopped eating meat last November and are quickly making the transition to a vegan diet. I’m always interested to hear other people’s take on the hows & whys of choosing not to eat meat. Becoming involved at a local farm animal sanctuary has made it impossible to even imagine eating animal products ever again. I’m guessing that if most people had to spend one afternoon watching “Earthlings” and interacting with just one farm animal, the amount of our meat consumption would fall off a cliff. Fortunately, toys don’t really need meat.
Yes, “Earthlings” was my turning point, too…
Jakethy I’m so happy you visited and commented about farm sanctuary. I’ve had a few direct experiences with creatures that traumatized me when it comes to meat eating. Family eating creatures I thought of as pets etc., stories for another day. I actually visited a place where pigs were processed that bordered on horror. The realism of it shook me up terribly. I agree that interacting closely with farm animals in a friendly setting could make all the difference, and hope we can add it to our educational curricula for children. There’s nothing quite like baby piglets and lambs for sweetness. Cute about the toys, and I love your site too.
P.S. And I love the picture of the rhinos!! 😀
Sophia, what a magnificent creature a rhino is. Massive, rock hard, and herbivorous they live on shoots and grasses. Amazing.
I love your post and it reminds me of how important nutrition is. I’m surprised it is not taught in schools as one of the basic important subjects. It seems far more important to me than learning how to notate chemical equations. Not to shoot that down, but why isn’t nutrition education more prioritized? It is essential. Perhaps that is part of why there are so many health issues.
I am a vegetarian by birth, but if I had a choice I think I would choose to be a herbivore anyway! I’m mentally and emotionally withdrawn from the idea of eating animal products. Thank you for sharing these great thoughts 🙂
Sophia what an important point, nutrition education could be an essential nutrient for feeding the mind! I hope we can give it more weight in school curricula. It’s something I’ve read so much about over the years and think about every time I eat.