Friday, December 31, 2010

Making the Organic Vegan (sort of) Resolution

I can't truly be vegan. I keep chickens and use their eggs, I keep bees and use their honey, and in the future I want rabbits and goats and will use their wool/fiber. I have read about being vegan and the reasons for it, and I respect where they are coming from, but sometimes those ideals don't seem rational or practical. If I take care of my unconventional pets well, and they happen to share with me their gifts (that would otherwise spoil and go to waste) why can't they be used?

Veganism is a puzzle to me. I know a lot of vegans who have cats and dogs as pets, as if what they feed those pets doesn't matter. Now that's cheating to me! If anything, I think it's more inhumane to own a pet that requires the death of another animal for its own sustenance, than a person eating eggs & honey or wearing the wool of a well cared for pet that would shed these things anyway. (And yes, I consider my bees to be my pets!)  But, I digress...

So anyway, while I can't truly be a vegan by the current definition, I would like to adopt some vegan habits like avoiding meat and dairy completely, even though I eat these minimally right now. Rather than attempt this cold-turkey overnight and fail miserably, I've decided to take a pro-active stance and incorporate more vegan dishes into my life to crowd out the old, less healthy dishes. When thinking about my vegan starts and stops in the past, what immediately comes to mind is the fact that I never had a lot of vegan recipes to draw from. It takes time to learn new ways of doing things, to develop new habits, and you know how folks are these days... if it doesn't happen for us instantly, we just go back to our old habits.

My plan is to alter the meals I make now into vegan versions, or near vegan as possible (using the occasional egg for baking or adding honey instead of sugar isn't a sin to me.) Not too hard since I don't cook meat at home at all and rarely, rarely eat it out because it's hard to find organic, humanely raised meat. I don't like milk and really don't care for a lot of dairy products, it's just that darn cheese that's the problem! We love lasagna, pizza, enchiladas, etc! However, those can be made deliciously without cheese; I've tasted cheese-free versions and know that it is possible not to miss the cheese at all. It's just a matter of learning how to make these dishes without the dairy really well. It takes time to find good recipes! That's why I've decided to learn and test out at least 5 new vegan recipes a month and slowly develop a new way of cooking and eating.

At the moment I have a huge stack of vegan cook books waiting for me at the library. I wonder if they are open today...?

As for organic, I advocate it 100%. After reading and studying up on chemicals and the damage they do to our environment and our health, it's a no-brainer. All organic is the way to go. If you think you can't afford to buy it, change your mindset. Cheap food only leads to more health problems later. Think of organic food as a very important investment. I'd rather pay a few extra bucks now, rather than thousands in medical bills later. Organic is a much more simple concept and an easier food transition than going vegan, but Lee is sometimes hard to persuade when it comes to parting with the extra pennies for the organic version of whatever we buy in the store. I was shocked to learn that he had never been to a Trader Joe's before last weekend when we went (WTH?), but I think he was even more shocked at how inexpensive it can be to shop organic. If you can afford an unhealthy daily latte (or any other vice), you can afford to give that up and buy healthy, organic food! If not, grow your own! That's even cheaper than conventionally grown produce.

Bottom line, in all the reading, studying and video viewing I've done on food and diets in this last year, what I've learned is that we need to consume more vegetables and fruits for better health. Another food resolution of mine is to meet and exceed the recommended 5 a day. Shouldn't be too difficult with the garden plan I have for this coming year!

Good luck and all the best to you in the New Year!

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