Friday, December 16, 2011

30 Vegan Challenge


 For a long time I have felt that the food we eat is killing us.  Statistically, nationalities differ in life expectancy and health issues, thus  telling us that what we eat, what we do and what we are exposed to affect us.  I live in the “Fattest Country in the World” * (and am personally in the obese category myself).  I also live in the world’s leader in oil consumption (#2 uses 10,4900,000 barrels LESS than us PER DAY*) which tells me that we are driving EVERYWHERE, thus not getting an exercise either. (Despite my notable lack of driving, I am definitely not moving of my own volition often enough.)  Much research has shown that the hormones that we put into the animals we eventually eat are causing premature puberty in children.  These are just a few points but I am sure you get where I am going with this.

Several years ago I started reducing the packaged food I eat.  The packaging alone is an issue for me despite my recycling habits.  The ingredients are what scare me though; chemicals I can’t pronounce, chemicals I can pronounce that come with carcinogenic warnings, fillers, preservatives, the list goes on.  Flavor enhancers kill me – they make cardboard food and then spray the flavor on.  I recently read that there are several sodas on the market (most of which were my preferred choice on the rare occasion I partake) that have a flame retardant in them that "prevent the citrus flavoring oils from floating to the surface in beverages."  I try to make as much as I can from scratch and what I can’t I either avoid all together or I try to limit the ingredients. 

I have never been much of a meat eater, I DO love bacon and pork and seafood but even the cost of these has impacted the frequency in which I eat them.  I also am not a big dairy eater with the exception of butter and occasionally ice cream.  I don’t like eggs in general; however, baking (what little I do) without them is difficult. 

Veganism has been gaining popularity over the past few years and with it there has been a plethora of information via internet and books on the subject.   Many pro-vegans are all about saving the animals and while this is a noble thing, I really don’t think it will be the attitude that will bring that majority over to their side.  Humans by nature are self-serving and if you want to sell vegan I believe that it will be to sell the reasons why it benefits HUMANS to be vegan.  THESE are the reasons why I aspire to make the leap.  Yes, I feel bad about the animals that we eat and exploit, but if I was a lion, I would still eat the antelope – health and self-preservation is priority #1.  100 years ago, I probably wouldn’t mind eating pork as much as I do now.  Today, Porky is getting the last laugh, all the toxins that we inject into him are going directly back into us – if THAT isn’t karma, I don’t know what is.  Dairy is even worse.  Not only do you get all the injectable toxins but the dairy business AT ITS BEST lacks what most people would call hygiene.  One trip to a dairy facility will shy the best milk and cheese lover away. 

Eggs are a hard one for me.  Chickens will lay eggs without any human interaction.  Males are not necessary for this process so you are not eating an embryo that might turn into an animal someday.  As a matter of fact, if there is no male present, that egg is just going to rot and make compost.  I have found little information in the way of what is transferred from hen to egg in regard to toxins.  Since I have found no vegan equivalent that is not chemical in nature, I will continue eating the few that I eat  (less than a dozen a year)  with the caveat that they be “certified humane, cage-free, 100% vegetarian feed and  no growth promotants” and, whenever possible, from a  chicken that I can visit (i.e. a local farm)

I am also VERY against “Faux Foods”.  These are prevalent in vegan diets and are usually so bad for you, you might as just eat the real thing.    These foods are meant to impersonate an animal product via the use of technology and chemicals.  If you are in it to save the animals, ask yourself this – what by-products went into the environment during the process of or the excrement of this product?  As you read my blog, you will notice (and I am sure many will have a problem with) if I am to eat cheese, I will eat cheese and not faux cheese and no apology will be given.  I will also, at this point, mention that many of these faux foods have animal products in them.  MANY faux cheeses  have casein  or whey in them.  Most protein powders, boxed cereals, processed sandwich breads, bread crumbs and crackers contain these cow’s milk derivatives.**

For the past few months I have been attempting to eat vegan as much as possible.  I began with the following goals:

No meat, No dairy, eggs for baking only, packaged food should be few and far between at home only.  Outside the house – at restaurants and friend’s homes I would eat as I liked or as given to me. 
Unfortunately many things have played a role in deterring me from my goals.  I live with a 350 lb. “Meatasaurus” (defined as a human that has an antique way of thinking about food and eats without regard to what he is putting into his mouth) and there are always temptations around the house.  It is also right between Thanksgiving and Christmas and I am eating quite a bit outside my own home.  I am finding that the more “no-no” food I eat, the more I want.  I also noticed that as soon as the temperature dropped, my appetite became insatiable.  Now, I KNOW that I have PLENTY of fat on my body to keep me warm, but I suspect that some sub-conscience caveman response is responsible for that and I just try to counteract it by eating a bit more of the healthy stuff than normal.

To answer my struggle I picked up a couple of books to help my endeavor and feel I need to mention them here as over the next few weeks, I am sure that things with come up that will directly correspond to something I have read.

First I picked up “The 30-Day Vegan Challenge: The UltimateGuide to Eating Cleaner, Getting Leaner, and Living Compassionately by ColleenPatrick-Goudreau.  I suspect that as I eliminate some foods that I will start to crave them as they detox out of my body.  I was also having a heck of a time avoiding the “hidden animal products” and insuring I was getting all the nutrients I need.  This book comes at you assuming that you don’t know much (without being condescending) and that is what I am looking for.  I am still reading this and am the type that reads the whole plan before starting it (despite the fact that the book was written so that you don’t need to do that). 
The second book I picked up was "Eat Vegan on $4 a Day" byEllen Jaffe Jones.  I think the title explains it all.  I want to eat healthy without going broke doing it.

I will start my 30-day Challenge on Jan 1, 2012.  I figure that gives me enough time to read, purge (eat the bad stuff) and shop.  The aforementioned co-habitant has been forewarned that I will not be cooking ANY animal products and that if he wants them, he can fend for himself (preferably elsewhere).

I would LOVE any comments or advice you can share about this topic!
~Reduce, ReUse, Recycle and Rejoice!

*Statistics come from NationMaster.com
** from The 30-Day Vegan Challenge: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Cleaner, Getting Leaner, and Living Compassionately by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau


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