Monday, November 8, 2010

Vegan Travesty

I made the decision to be Vegan after much thought, but it is only in the living do we learn and grow. I really enjoy eating this way. It does feel good to have 0% cholesterol in your diet and no grease! I have learned so much, though, and re-evaluated everything. I'm still thinking about what to do, but here is where I am at in thought at the moment.

It was my extreme dislike of (and fear of) this country's mass food production methods (animal cruelty and slaughter) that spurred me to become a Vegetarian, and my extreme fear of heart disease which inspired me to go even further into that lifestyle and give up dairy products and be Vegan. In so doing, I am having to find and define my personal comfort zones, for me and for my family.

My first inkling of "Vegan" doubt arose from my intense studying of the subject of Veganism and from perusing millions of recipes. I noticed that within that circle of thought, one was expected to think a certain way. It was only when I found myself beginning to think this way, too, that I realized that it clashed completely with my vision of myself.

I love to cook. I collect British cookbooks and absolutely love the idea of old-fashioned, comforting meals, full of roasted meats, creamy soups, fresh salads, crusty breads, and cheeses. One of my goals as a wife and mother has been to create that kind of atmosphere in my home for my family. Feeding people and animals is one of my greatest joys in life!

After 6 weeks of a Vegan lifestyle, the contradictions within my mind were beginning to be painfully clear.  On more than one occasion, I saw meat referred to as “tortured animal corpses pumped full of antibiotics.” Milk became "blood and pus-filled secretions." And eggs are nothing more than "chicken periods."

It was the milk reference that threw me. As a mother, I breastfed 3 children for 3+ years and have produced thousands of gallons of perfect, sweet milk for my babies. Try as I might, I CAN'T think of milk this way.

Another aspect which I find disconcerting is the extreme irony in the whole Vegan principle. On one hand, the idea is to eat more healthy foods and avoid extremely processed foods in general. Eating no dairy for 6 weeks, I found myself missing sour cream and cream cheese, so I scoured the stores, traveled many miles, and paid many dollars to get my hands on some milk-free sour cream, cream cheese, and mayonnaise. One day, as I was slathering some soybean "sour cream" on my baked potato, I realized that I probably could not find a MORE processed food than what I was about to put into my mouth. That "sour cream" is so far from it's original source (soybean), that is was as if someone needed a magic wand to transform it! In this moment, I began to see that it probably would be much better for me to just eat some real sour cream, made from milk, and closer to the original food source. I certainly don't feel comfortable feeding these dairy substitutes to my girls!

As a result, I have tried to add cheese and some cream back into my diet in the last 2 weeks. I must admit, my stomach has not been very cooperative with that decision, as I am lactose intolerant, but I am trying nonetheless. I am leaning toward not eating dairy, but if I make that decision again, I won't feel comfortable calling myself a Vegan because somehow that implies so much, and I have found that I just can't agree with some of the extreme principles associated with Veganism. Just simply not eating meat or dairy should be enough.

All in all, I am very happy to be proactively taking the steps to prevent heart disease, as I have been living in fear of it for a while now. And the knowledge gained through this experience only encourages me to do my small part in creating a more gentle world.


  1. Donna, thank you for writing such a thoughtful post and sharing your personal thoughts and struggles. Personally, I can't stand labels because they keep us in boxes. Once we start labeling ourselves, we start having to follow the rules of the label and feel "bad" if we veer off course. Extremism of any kind leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I think we have to do what best for us, as individuals, and not worry about having to answer to any rules or labels. I struggle with this too (especially with politics and religion). I've decided that life and situations within life are far too complicated for me to choose ONE way to be and call it good. It's a journey and we are always learning, growing, and redefining ourselves. If I had to label you, I'd call you "Donna." And that is just perfect. :)

    xx Angie

  2. Donna,
    Very well written blog and thanks so much for sharing your feelings!

    I have fallen off the wagon myself and meat isn't the problem.
    I love dairy quite a bit, and I find it very difficult to resist cheese.

    I've thought about just not eating processed food. There is something called "clean eating". There is also another program that I absolutely love:

    I almost never eat meat, but I wonder if we just tried to not eat heavily processed foods.....more organic products. Do you have a Whole Foods near you?

    I love cooking myself, and although I lost weight and felt great with the Vegan diet, I'm not sure how practical it really is. I'm a working mom and don't have the time to make out elaborate food plans.