Gary and I are going meatless for March. Since I am lactose intolerant, and can eat very little dairy without feeling pretty unwell, it’s an easy jump to go completely dairy free. Gary also seems to have developed a bit of an intolerance, which can happen from time to time.
As we eat eggs only occasionally, it was also pretty easy to say that we will not consume them for the month as well.
Why vegan? Well, we have both been doing a bit of research lately about the healthiest kind of lifestyle choices to make. Turns out people tend to eat way more meat than they need, and there’s a fairly solid connection between an over-consumption of animal products and diseases such as cancer. There’s also plenty of elite athletes who compete – and win – on vegan diets, so it’s doable. There’s even vegan bodybuilders.
From a health perspective, eating more plant based if a great idea – it gets away from processed and refined foods, and deals with healthier wholefoods, and as long as you eat a good variety of foods you’re going to get the nutrition you need. With our veggie garden helping us out, it also reduces the shopping bills!
As it turns out, there’s only one vitamin you can’t get from a plant based diet, and thats vitamin B12. It seems that B12 is added to a number of products, including soy milk and nutritional yeast. Everything else is found in plant based foods. There’s plenty of vitamins and minerals in plants and grains. You just need to mix it up.
From an ethical perspective, I find it hard to support commercial farming practices. I’m still more than willing to kill my own food (and I have done in the past), but I have a huge problem with factory farming. The conditions that some animals have to live in, and the manner in which they are killed, doesn’t sit so well with me anymore. I know there’s “humane” ways of raising and killing meat animals, but I also question how those places actually run.
I also think I’ve been kidding myself a little with the whole “but it’s free range” argument. Free range does not necessarily mean what I think it means. Eggs and Chicken meat are not raised on grassy open land, with covered and protected roosts. They might have more space than battery hens, but it’s nowhere near the conditions I’d raise my own in.
I am happy to raise my own (actually free range) chooks and consume their eggs, because I’ve grown up with chooks and known them to be perfectly content in a backyard setting. Eating the eggs they naturally produce does no harm to the chickens, and there’s no risk of accidently cooking a baby chicken if there’s no rooster about.
If we could raise and kill our own food I might be more happy about it, but it’s not practical where we live as we are in town. However, the more research I read about whether or not meat is actually necessary in this day and age, the less comfortable I am with eating it. If it’s not really necessary, is it really justifiable for me to consume meat on the basis that I like eating it?
There’s so much to consider and to think about when it comes to the ethical side of things, and I honestly don’t know where things will go at the end of March. I’m going to keep learning – reading evidence from both sides of the argument – and I’m going to monitor how I travel over the next few weeks. Conveniently enough, I’ve just had to have a full blood test for something different so if I get another at the end of the month my GP can compare the results to see if there’s been a noticeable difference in anything.
For the moment, it’s been a week of eating vegan, with the one exception where I ordered vegetarian noodles for dinner and didn’t realise it had egg in it until I had already started eating it, and when I accidently made my coffee with dairy milk out of habit. I haven’t had any cravings for meat, and I haven’t even missed it at all. Only once was I tempted, and that was because one of Gary’s friends brought prawns on the camping trip last weekend and I love prawns. I didn’t give in and I am proud to say I got through the trip completely vegan.
It’s actually a lot easier to go camping vegan, because you don’t need to worry about anything spoiling, or flies hovering around your sausages. We had (premade) felafels on pita wraps one night, and bean/tomato/veggie stew on coal roasted sweet potato the other. We took some vegan lentil patties and some veggies from the garden, and some oatmeal and soymilk. A few other bits and pieces, and we had plenty of energy for the hiking and scrambling over rocks.
In terms of health, I’m feeling pretty good right now. I have been running twice this week, as well as aqua boot camp and hockey training, and I have not once felt like I am running out of steam. My off season training has obviously helped too as normally at the first hockey training you feel pretty wrecked. This time I just felt like I didn’t want to stop.
So I’ll try and keep this blog posted and maybe do a few vegan recipes over the next month, and lets see how the vegan experiment turns out!