For couple of years I was (extremely gradually) trimming meat consumption from my diet, as well as (somewhat less successfully) reducing my dairy and egg consumption. I felt fairly good about myself. I was eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, so I thought I must be eating a healthier diet. I felt that I was doing my part to reduce the massive pressure on the meat, dairy and egg industries to produce, well, industrial quantities of meat, dairy and eggs. Yep, particularly compared to the meat, dairy and egg loving people that I typically found myself surrounded with, I felt as though my choices must have been making a positive contribution to the ethical treatment of food animals as well as remedying the environmental degradation associated with the world of animal factories.
I then had an unexpected experience that made me decide that I really wanted to jump into veganism with two feet instead of just occasionally dipping a toe in the water. There was only one problem. Err…wait, there were a few problems.
1) I love the taste of meat. I have heard from vegans I know personally, as well as from people out in the wide world of the interwebz this line that, “It’s not really the taste of the meat you love. It’s just the texture, and everything else is just spices and flavoring that you add. There are faux-meat products that taste just as good.” Now I’ve never had the heart to tell any of these vegans (whom I love) personally, but in my opinion, this is basically a myth. I extend to them the benefit of the doubt – I don’t think they are trying to lie. They probably haven’t eaten meat in so long that they really believe it’s true. I aspire to be in that position myself, but am certainly not currently. I’m not saying that there aren’t mock meat products out there that taste good – there are (there are also some that are indescribably nasty). However, even the best ones I’ve tried aren’t the same – they just don’t taste and feel as good. The more highly processed the real meat version is, the closer the vegan approximation seems to be able to get. This is great if you really love corn dogs and chicken nuggets, but not so great if you love a juicy, rare steak.
2) I love the taste of eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, cream, cheesecake, ice cream and a million other things that have dairy or eggs in them. A lot of what I’ve already said in point #1 applies here, though I will make a few allowances. Firstly, I have tried vegan alternatives for a limited number of these products that really do taste just as wonderfully delicious and comfortingly soul-satisfying as the delightful (tasting) versions I am accustomed to. For example, these delectable “cream” filled cupcakes made with vegan cream cheese from Entrées Etc.
Secondly, even for the products that just don’t taste quite as good as what I’m used, the difference is usually small enough that it’s not a big deal. This point still qualifies as an issue for me however, as there are a few alternatives I’ve tried which fall into the indescribably nasty category mentioned above.
3) I am incredibly lazy. I mean, sure in a perfect world, I’d just be whipping up the amazing vegan recipes I can find with a quick Google search and never looking back to my omnivorous days. Except, you know, reality. In reality, it feels hard to start shopping differently, particularly when it affects so many of the products I might typically have in my grocery cart. It’s not like I can just skip the meat and dairy section. The past 48 hours I’ve been reading through the ingredient list on a number of products in my home that I don’t typically think of as animal products and been unpleasantly surprised. Dairy, in particular, is lurking everywhere! Also, it just feels a bit hard to have to look for weird products I’ve never heard of before (tempeh, seitan, nutritional yeast, anyone?), especially if they initially come in a large quantity or are on the pricey side – after all, what if I hate it and end up with a kitchen full of food I won’t eat, and no money left? And let’s not forget that even once I have all the groceries, I actually have to either cook the food I have no idea about, or else subsist solely on prepared and highly processed foods (which would make me feel guilty about not being a better person, and is also kind of gross). Finally, once I have gone through the trouble to get to this point, I may just feel sad about that fact that nothing seems to taste as good anymore, and have a hard time resigning myself to a life of…oh, wait, I’m back to points 1 & 2 again. Just read those again for emphasis (who am I kidding? I’m the only person that’s ever going to read this). I should acknowledge that on this count, I am blessed with a fantastic partner-in-crime (my husband) who loves me, and loves to cook and grocery shop, so it won’t actually be me personally staring perplexedly at the shelf in some previously unexplored aisle. I will however be the one fielding the frustrated phone calls and texts from said partner-in-crime (eg. “you are crazy. I’m pretty sure there actually is no such thing as tamari. you imagined it, and now I’ve been to 5 different grocery stores, and none of the 30 employees I’ve asked about it have ever heard of it!”).
4) OK, so my final struggle – what about other people? You know, when I go to someone else’s house for dinner, and I don’t want to be rude? What about my well-meaning family and friends who are going to start telling me about how any day now, all of my bones are going to simultaneously snap in half because I don’t drink cow’s milk? Or that I’m going to one day attempt to get out of bed and fail because my muscles are so incredibly protein deprived? What about the fact that I live in southern Alberta and I have among my acquaintances people who are themselves involved in the industries producing the items I’m trying to avoid?
My motivation for this blog is to mostly to be accountable, mostly to myself, about keeping my resolution to go veg. If I get lucky and 3 other people in the world start following my adventures, I’ll love that they can help to keep me accountable as well. And if 1 of these 3 hypothetical people is someone is experiencing something similar to me, then maybe my ramblings will actually help them out.
This blog is going to be foremost, a food journal. I commit to faithfully record everything that I eat, whether it’s vegan or not, and provide some pics, recipes and other pertinent information where applicable. As encounters with aforementioned problem #4 arise, I may also write about how I navigate them.