I’ve written about going vegan for a week, eating Tofurky and my excitement for vegan breakfast options at The Coffee Shop and Uprooted Kitchen. But we’re also not completely/strictly vegan. So I thought I’d share a post on what the heck we eat.
Our motivation for choosing food comes primarily out of concern for the treatment of animals but also for the health of the environment and ourselves. Deciding what to eat is a deeply personal choice and also one that has become very political! My thoughts here only reflect the way Chris and I eat and how we arrived at our current diet.
Before being veganish since about November of last year we were vegetarian and ate dairy, eggs, and fish. My thinking was that I felt OK eating dairy and eggs because the animal does not have to be killed to obtain the food product. And I didn’t feel as much compassion towards a fish as for other animals although we did always try to buy seafood that had been sustainably fished (such asMSC certified and according to Seafood Watch). We tried to buy organic milk and yogurt and cage free eggs.
Then a talk by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, the Compassionate Cook as she calls herself, really opened our eyes to how dairy cows, their calves, are treated as well as laying hens. Later we saw the movie Vegucated which had footage of what I would consider extreme and unnecessarily cruel farm practices that are standard at industrial farms, including those used for dairy cows and laying hens. I had to close my eyes through most of it but the sounds were still very disturbing. For me this immediately brings a question to my mind: If I can’t stand to watch where my food comes from, can I justify eating it?
Armed with this information we felt we had to seriously evaluate whether we wanted to be part of the “demand” for these food products and support the practices that create them. We decided that we want to lessen our demand as much as possible. So since February our diet has been what I would call veganish. Here’s how it works right now:
In our home. We eat exclusively* vegan at home. We do not buy any animal food products at the store (with the exception of honey, which will still eat and strict vegans do not). This means we have no animal food products in the house and since we take our lunches and cook dinner at home we eat vegan all week. When we have people over for a meal we cook vegan. *The exception would be if someone brought a non-vegan (vegetarian) dish to our house, then we'd go vegetarian.
At someone else’s house. Our diet is veganish because we do make exceptions. If we go to someone else’s house for a meal and there is no vegan option we will fall back to being vegetarian. Our family and friends have been very accommodating of our eating habits so many times there is a vegan option for us but I never want to inconvenience someone who has so kindly prepared a meal for us.
At restaurants. Vegetarian options at restaurants today are plentiful. Full-meal vegan options with protein are less common. (Veggie burgers are common on menus but they usually contain eggs.) If we’re at a restaurant picked by family or friends we’ll find the best vegan option or just go vegetarian and not worry about it. If Chris and I pick the restaurant we’ll either pick one that has great vegan options (such as Uprooted Kitchen, The Coffee Shop, 24 Carrots, or Green) or we’ll purposefully pick a place where we plan to eat vegetarian, mostly for pizza or ice cream, which happens infrequently.
Travelling. If we can find a great vegan place to eat while we travel we’ll definitely go but for the most part I plan to be only vegetarian. I’ll look first for a good vegan option on menus but if I don’t find one I’ll go vegetarian. I still love cheese, Greek yogurt and ice cream so traveling is usually when I’ll let myself indulge.
As you can see, our diet is flexible (except for the “no meat” part). Sometimes this makes me feel like a hypocrite, which bothers me. I don’t approve of farm practices yet I’m not strict enough with myself to completely eliminate dairy and eggs from my diet. Still, at this point it’s a level of hypocrisy that I will accept for now. We’ve essentially cut down our demand for animal food products to near zero and I’m a big believer that you "vote with your dollars". We eat significantly less animal food products than the average American so I feel good about that.
Overall I've been so amazed at how easy it is to eat vegan. I really don't miss putting milk, yogurt and eggs into my grocery cart. When I do eat dairy products or non-vegan baked goods on occasion I enjoy them but I don't crave them (although sometimes I did when we first started being veganish). It seems that the only two things I've not found great vegan alternatives for is a cheese pizza (vegan cheese does not cut it) and Greek yogurt. But in the grand scheme of everything we caneat I think it's great there are only two things I miss.
I'm able to find everything I need at Trader Joe’s or a regular grocery store. We make occasional trips to Whole Foods or Sprouts but it’s more of a treat than to get anything we’re missing from our diet. And while I do still enjoy a great piece of pizza or a scoop of ice cream on occasion I never feel depraved or hungry as a result of our current diet, maybe because I do make occasional exceptions to eat these things. I also feel amazing and more healthy than I did when we just only eating vegetarian. This surprised me because I didn’t think that the switch from vegetarian to veganish would be significant. I haven’t lost any weight but feel lighter. And I definitely have plenty of energy to keep up with yoga, spinning and running. Overall I have a general feeling of being very healthy and I think that has a lot to do with my diet (and of course being active).
If I really wanted to I could cut out the exceptions that I make at other people’s houses, restaurants, and when travelling. I’m not there yet but I could see that in the future. For now, veganish will do.
(All photos are vegan foods.)