While I wholeheartedly embrace the vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, I have always taken issue with fake meat. If you don’t want to eat meat, don’t eat meat, no big deal. Don’t make other foods into the shape and color of meat and pretend you’re eating meat! You’ve built your entire lifestyle around the exclusion of eating animals, you can’t have it both ways! You are lying to yourself! Plus tofu does not taste like food. You can tell me that it tastes like nothing, or that it takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it in until you’re blue in the face. I still find it spongy and disgusting. And yet, that tofu-rizo is sitting in my refrigerator right now. Why?
I have decided to give vegan eating a try for the month of February. After my recent hospitalization, I feel like I am having to start a lot of things in life over from scratch, ie. how to have casual conversations without alienating people, functioning in the daytime on a normal person’s schedule, new disciplines for my self care routine (what the hell is this “exercise” thing people keep talking about?), and many many other things. So why not throw a few voluntary changes in the mix as well? I’m having to readjust to almost everything, readjusting my eating routine will not be nearly as big of an upheaval as it would be if my daily routine was “normal.”
I am choosing this veganism adventure for a few reasons. The first reason is a version of one that many people assume about vegans and vegetarians who work in the veterinary field. No, I am not becoming vegan because I love all animals so much that I can’t stand to eat them. In fact, I really enjoy eating cows, pigs, and the occasional flounder. I do believe animals are meant to be eaten. However, because of my love and respect for animals, I believe in a right way to go about raising and consuming animals. I believe animal meat should sustain us only if the animal has been allowed to live a normal life.
Thousands of chickens crammed into a warehouse being pumped full of hormones so their keepers can make as much money off them as possible is not a normal life for a chicken. Same for cows, pigs, flounder, and animals that I don’t eat but other people do. I love the occasional fast food cheeseburger as much as the next American, but for the most part, when I eat meat, I need to know that it was treated well when it was alive. I believe life deserves my respect, even if the life is different from my own. There seem to be more independent farmers who are raising food animals more naturally these days, but it is still nearly impossible to find that information about all the foods you eat.
Limited and often skewed information is available to consumers who are interested in finding out where our food comes from, and this can be very daunting and overwhelming and make you just want to eat cardboard to be on the safe side. I know that many plant products are also grown or manufactured with less than stellar ethics, but I can only tackle one battle at a time. Also, I have this condition where I have to eat something in order to keep living.
Another reason, the main reason I am trying vegan life for a month is that I am interested in the many purported health benefits of veganism. My greatest disciplines in life revolve around trying to balance many forms of unstable chemicals: lack of naturally occurring endocrine hormones, wobbly brain chemistry, a lazy bastard pancreas, misbehaving lady hormones, and a moderate addiction to root beer.
I am on several therapeutic medications for these issues (except the root beer addiction – the only medication to cure that is a big ugly pill called Cold Turkey, and today is my first day to swallow this pill) and somewhere along the way I began to think about the chemicals involved in all these processes. All my mental and physical disorders are chemical, all medications are chemicals, all foods are chemicals; there is a connection between the foods (I include root beer as a food) I eat (and drink) and how I feel.
If I’m already having baseline hormone imbalances, why have I been choosing to eat animal products manufactured using unnatural amounts of hormones? If my body and brain chemistry is off kilter, why would I continue to feed it foods made from other unbalanced chemicals? My body, with its type 1 diabetes, hypothyroidism, depression, anxiety, addiction to high fructose corn syrup and caffeine, will not function without daily medical intervention, and other than the HFCS/caffeine addiction, there is nothing that will change that. However, can I help it function ore or less efficiently based on what I choose to feed it.
So, becoming vegan for a month is my little experiment to really look at how my diet affects my health conditions. I will also be giving up the root beer and all sodas for the month of February as part of the experiment. I am keeping a journal for the entire month, recording everything I eat and all medications I take, my weight, and glucose control, and charting my mood. If this experiment brings about improvement in my overall health, which I am suspecting it will, I will likely become a full time vegan on the run from the Vegan Police (because of the occasional BLT and giant plate of nachos I will not say no to).
I will be sharing parts of the experiment here on the blog, for those of you who get as excited about science experiments as I do. I think I’ve been waiting for an excuse to make a change to a healthier lifestyle, and this seemed like as good a time as any. I’m still going to need help accepting this imitation meat concept. Can I ever look a pig in the eye again, knowing that I wanted to eat it so much that I found edible play-dough and shaped it into chorizo? I think I would lose serious street cred with the pigs, don’t you? Anyway, I found a vegan baked taquitos recipe, hence the “Soyrizo,” so we’ll see how that goes. Here goes nothin’!