Updated: Apr 11, 2020
· Is this an austere lifestyle that requires a significant effort to adopt?
· Are these animal loving people also kind to people?
· Is this a sustainable way to eat?
I admit, even with my cache of vegetarian recipes and respectable cooking skills, stepping into the realm of VEGAN Month was intimidating. It is not just a diet but a culture – some would even call it a religion.
Controversial? I don’t find it to be. This is a philosophy of non-violence. Awareness of our impact on this world is foremost in a VEGAN’s heart. Embracing VEGANISM asks you to not fight the process and move forward with curiosity.
Attitude: If your value and worth are from your productivity at work, then this will be an uphill battle. Let’s face it, this world runs at a breakneck pace, and this is not a diet that you can just fit in between work assignments, tasks and trips. It is a lifestyle.
Adopting VEGANISM presents challenges because it deviates from most diets, and most restaurant food. It is a low-fat, high fiber diet which requires a fair amount of planning, food preparation and kitchen skills. Bottom line: you must commit to it with time and effort.
· Can I do this? Research and planning will be my friend. · Deep breath. · Here I go. DEFINITION The Vegan Society states on their website (1): “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”
RULES · A vegan does not exploit animals for food · A vegan does not use products from companies that perform animal testing · A vegan excludes all animal byproducts like honey, leather or fur FOOD The 12 Diets in 12 Months Nutrition Challenge has food as the primary focus. My food intake for April 2020 will be 100% VEGAN. For the rest of the vegan culture, I will do what I can within reason.
GROUNDWORK In preparation for Vegan Month, I went to some websites that promote a vegan diet in search of recipes. Step 1: PETA (2) People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals They have a How To Go Vegan diet guide to show how easy it is to substitute vegan foods for a meat-based diet. I was excited to see it, perhaps it would give me a framework for this month. I was greatly disappointed. PETA’s suggestion were for meat and dairy analogues, with an occasional salad, fruit and stir fry. This is a recipe for failure, and an insult to the entire vegan culture. Mimicking a meat-based diet is contradictory to their beliefs. I will not use their guide. Step 2: PCRM (3) Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine “The Physicians Committee is dedicated to saving and improving human and animal lives through plant-based diets and ethical and effective scientific research.” This speaks to me on a number of levels: 1) I am a registered nurse and have witnessed people suffering because of what they eat 2) PCRM’s research is proving that we can reverse diseases like diabetes and heart disease 3) They are improving the lives of people and animals with evidence and facts 4) I love to cook, and most of their recipes are use plants, not animal analogues Step 3: T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies (4) A whole food, plant-based advocacy group with evidence-based education and resources. They offer recipes, guides and also a Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) nutrition certification course. While I have a Master Nutrition Therapy degree which studied nutrition for all diets, I respect their passion and focus on a VEGAN lifestyle. Their recipes will be another resource that I will turn to as I plan my meals. TRANSITION RIGHTS I truly believe that as we become more aware of our choices, we gravitate to products that support our values. Part of my belief system is to minimize waste. I cannot in good conscience throw out non-vegan products that are in my home. As I use them up, I will experiment with VEGAN options. Plus, this gives me time to experiment; it is fun to pick up something new to try without the pressure of guilting myself into liking it.
My lifestyle already reflects some vegan goals. I do not own leather furniture. I use shampoo and conditioner that is not tested on animals. I purchase organic and non-GMO products as much as possible. And I love animals. Here are the categories that I will gradually transition as my current supplies run out:
The last time I tried a vegan diet, I lasted less than a week. This time, I am prepared. Wish me luck.