What I Eat

Food is sometimes a complicated thing to manage. It's easy to abuse or neglect. More than anything I try to eat in a sustainable way that makes the earth, my body and my mind all happy. Sometimes it's a difficult balance between interested and obsessed. I'm pretty okay with it. 

Mostly whole foods. Mostly vegan.

Why Vegan? Three reasons:

Short Answer #1: Save the Earth
Short Answer #2: The Animals
Short Answer #3: My Health

Short Answer #1: Save the Earth!

I never thought of myself as a tree-hugger until I got to college. I mean, my parents vote Republican. I had a cell phone and TV and we pay [exorbitant] taxes and wear deodorant and nobody has dreadlocks or dances barefoot or wears long flowing skirts. 

I grew up spending a lot of time outdoors in Oregon. 

When I arrived to Southern California 11 years ago, I was surprised by how close together the houses were. Even "land" was meticulously landscaped, fenced, kept. There was never space anywhere. Even the beaches were smashed right up against the water, and full of people. And parking? Nightmare. 

Southern California has it's merits, and I was definitely happy there, I love the open space now that I'm in New Mexico, but I miss my trees. This summer I'll be moving back the Northwest. In the mean time, even though I see less natural land here I consider it a privilege to do what I can limit my overuse of the planet's resources. Land is disappearing fast. 


Why Vegan?

Short Answer #2: The Animals!

I suppose I started cooking early. My younger sisters and I would combine a delightful concoction of weeds and dirt from all over the property and leave it for our Mom to find. Mostly [fortunately] Mom did the actual cooking. 

I grew up having both vegetarian meats and actual meat in our house. My mom's been vegetarian my whole life, since she was a teenager, and though she gave us opportunity to eat meat, it didn't stick. I distinctly remember when I was about 11 biting into a chicken drumstick and seeing a vein and a tendon running across the bone beneath the meat. It only took a couple more tastes after that before I couldn't handle the idea of eating something that was once alive - using it's muscles, blood running through it. Vegetarianism ensued from then on. I became vegan much later - Oct 2010. 

I actually decided to become vegan initially as a challenge, an experiment I'd try for a month, educate myself, then go back to my regular vegetarian life. However, in the course of my reading on veganism during that time, I realized I'd really been burying my head in the sand in terms of how the animal products I regularly used were obtained. Not only were those factory farms making milk and eggs as energy-wasting as those making meat, but the animals were certainly treated no better. It was an industry I could no longer support.

People say, "Wait, so what if I raise my own meat or animals for milk and eggs? Are you crazy vegans opposed to that?" 
In a word: yes. I'm not really okay with any raising of animals for their meat. But if you're not ethically opposed to raising animals to eat and you're quite certain giving up meat would kill you, then I strongly encourage sourcing from local farms or raising it yourself. It makes a huge difference in not only resources utilized, but also the amount of hormones and other toxic products in your food. Not to mention supporting your community farmers. I'm sure they'd appreciate that.

Why Vegan?

Short Answer #3: My Health!

Okay, I was already pretty healthy with my 11 years of vegetarianism and I don't have one of those awesome, "I lost 100 pounds and my diabetes reversed and everything changed," stories, but I do feel awesome. Also, didn't you see Scott Pilgrim vs. The World? I have Vegan Powers.

Thinking about it?

The trickiest thing for me was figuring out which less obvious ingredients came from animals, things like casein, gelatin and whey. (For a more complete list see this great one from Happy Cow.) Over the years the amount of questions I ask at restaurants and the "strictness" has waxed and waned and I believe that's totally fine. 

We're all on a spectrum doing our best, and I firmly believe everyone should be allowed to eat what feels comfortable without judgement or hate from other groups.

Where to start? Blogs are great - that's definitely where I started. Peas and Thank You was great, practical, and Mama Pea will have you stoked about Mmmm Sauce before you even realize it. The blog is no longer active, but there are plenty of posts up to last you ages, and the cookbooks are great starting points. (Also she's from my hometown - shameless Oregon plug.)

My vegan cookbook collection is large and ever-expanding. The Veganomicon is definitely my favorite (see the tag cloud for lots of recipe reviews and photos). Peas and Thank You (the book) is hilarious and full of good ideas, and I think Vegan Planet is also a good starting place. It's a very diverse collection of recipes with relatively simple ingredients. 

Good luck in your evolving food endeavors wherever they're coming from or going. I hope you'll say hi, ask questions and feel free to say what's on your mind.

Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi I have been vegetarian since aged 5, I am now 40 eek. I feel like ethically spiritually that veganism is right, however I have a big family and would not be able to convince others to join me. My question to you is, how have others in your life reacted when you went vegan. And if you go an stay with people who are not vegan, do they get freaked out about what to cook? or get defensive with you? thanks Koru

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