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Sunday, October 21, 2007


Since becoming mostly vegan earlier this year, I have done rather a lot of research on what being vegan actually means. (By "mostly vegan," I mean that I am not totally militant about it; I eat vegan when I have control over the food, and feel significantly better about that, but tend to eat just vegetarian when I go out or eat with friends, for convenience. Being vegan is not always the easiest. Also, I still eat honey.) Yesterday I purchased The Vegan Sourcebook, by Joanne Stepaniak. She discusses the reasons behind becoming vegan, the psychology behind it, and gives different nutritional information about the vegan lifestyle. She suggests that being vegan is not just about animal rights; it is also about human rights. One example of this is when she writes about cane sugar, and whether or not vegans should use it; I have chosen to use mostly raw sugar, since cane sugar is frequently filtered through charred animal bones (not only is this kind of gross, but it also means that the sugar itself loses most of its nutritional value in the processing), but she says that it also leads to exploitation of workers. The people who usually produce sugar are illegal immigrants, earn less than minimum wage, work excessive overtime without the proper compensation, and do not receive any kind of benefits. The book also outlines the vegan food pyramid, and has a number of recipes for "alternative" meat and dairy products, made directly from plant sources. This is important, since a lot of vegan food is heavily processed. I think this book is really significant, especially if you are concerned about impacting the environment. The author gives a number of reasons why veganism could possibly be the right way to go. One other thing that she points out is how people really have a hard time supporting others who have decided to go vegan. I found this to be quite true in my own life; the only person who has thoroughly supported me is my boyfriend, who is not even vegetarian (by any stretch of the imagination!). I was rather surprised by this, as a lot of the people close to me who were supportive of my vegetarianism were entirely opposed to my becoming vegan. To a certain extent, I can understand; I know that many are concerned because of my ED history. However, I have been making a concerted effort to NOT lose weight on the vegan diet (which, for me, is a big step!). This is in part because of my job (since I work with ED patients, I try to keep my weight relatively steady), and also because, over time, I have come to accept the way that my body is, and my setpoint weight. She also says that being vegan makes it difficult to be around nonvegan people, which I have not found to be the case at all. I know that I have chosen a certain lifestyle for myself, and although I wish that others would also choose it, I certainly don't expect them to. It does not bother me at all that my boyfriend is a big meat-eater. As long as I am doing what's right for me, he can do what's right for him, and that's what's important.
Anyway-I also bought The Joy of Vegan Baking, and am looking forward to trying some of the recipes. I was invited to a Halloween party next weekend, and I'm planning to make vegan Chocolate Cheesecake to take with me. I'm guessing nobody knows it's vegan. :) I'm also excited about making vegan bread; I've never made bread at all before, and happened upon a very easy vegan recipe. I think I'll try it this week. And for those of you who are concerned about the processed vegan foods, there's almost no need to eat them at all; almost everything that I eat right now can be made from scratch, directly from plant sources.
My point here is: I felt really good about becoming a vegetarian. It was something that I had wanted to do for a very long time (I remember talking about it when I was probably 11), but I didn't want to inconvenience anyone. Once I did it, my overall health improved dramatically. Eating vegan has improved that about 10 times more. It did not restrict my diet at all; rather, it opened up a whole new world to me. I feel better physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. This new phase in my life has left me with so much clarity about myself and the world around me. Being vegan is not about what you don't do. It's about what you do, as far as taking care of the environment, doing your part in the preservation of our planet, compassion for other beings, and so many other things. This has been an extremely rewarding experience for me, and I'm really excited about continuing it.


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