Two weeks ago, our home became a mecca of animal-free bliss. Okay. Maybe that was a little too zen or crunchy, or whatever the new, cool word for hippy is. The point is: after much research, reading, thought and creative meal planning so as to eliminate all of the meat and dairy from our kitchen without wasting anything, we’ve gone extreme veggiesaurus.
How’s it feel? Like I have energy I haven’t had since I was my daughter’s age. It’s also exhausting, because she had more energy, too.
I’m loving it. I’m being creative with meals, paging through cookbooks with enthusiasm, and excitedly loading up reusable grocery bags with produce, soy products, nuts and grains. Together, we cook everyday – balanced menus, because I know that I’m even more responsible than before for ensuring that we get the necessary vitamins and minerals.
Also notable: I’ve gained two pounds. Something I can use.
Now you know the results, but you don’t know why the hay I said nay in the first place. Let me tell you…
1. Food allergies: My daughter’s allergic to wheat and dairy. This means that excepting meat, poultry, seafood and eggs, she was already living with a diet that was largely plant- and alternative-grains based, and avoiding prepared, packaged foods. I’m sensitive to those foods, too.
2. Cost: Eating a diet made up largely of beans, legumes, rice (and other grains, like quinoa) and plants is less expensive than the traditional North American animal-based diet. I can get a few days’ worth of vegan meals for about $10, but add in meat and potatoes, with a side of dairy, and I’d need at least $35.
3. Ethics: Of course, I don’t like the idea of an animal slaughtered, or living in cramped or festering conditions. The thought of an animal never really seeing outside, being raised just for me to drink milk isn’t kosher in my mind. Then, I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan, and discovered why cows get so many antibiotics. Shudder.
4. The Environment: I won’t quote statistics, but finding out how much raising one cow for beef costs the environment in water, resources and waste is mind-blowing. Greenhouse Effect? We could rename it the Slaughter House Effect.
5. Time and effort: We’re naturally grazers, my daughter and I. Sitting down to a single meal is often too much for our easily-distracted minds to handle – we get antsy. We’re often trolling the streets of Vancouver, at a friend’s house, or just in the mood for ______. Vegan mini-meals give us the versatility and spontaneity that a meat-based diet didn’t, because we don’t have to cook the majority of our foods, now.
I could probably list off another dozen reasons why going vegan makes sense for us. What about for you, though: Do you have any reasons for eating more plants, nuts, beans and legumes, or cutting down on animal products?