“Coming Out” As Vegan-Lite

Friends and family, Mike and I have been harbouring a secret from some of you.

Ok it’s not really a secret, just a topic that is uncomfortable to talk about due to the visceral and sometimes aggressive reactions some people have to this sort of thing.

We are currently transitioning to a vegetarian or “vegan-lite” way of eating.  Basically no more consuming of animal products: meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and so forth. However, we are not purist vegans in the sense that we are not giving up our merino wool base layers or down-filled sleeping bags.

It all started some weeks back when we watched a documentary called “Cowspiracy” on Netflix.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is a groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary following intrepid filmmaker Kip Andersen as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today – and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it.

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry, and is a primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, ocean “dead zones,” and virtually every other environmental ill. Yet it goes on, almost entirely unchallenged.

As Andersen approaches leaders in the environmental movement, he increasingly uncovers what appears to be an intentional refusal to discuss the issue of animal agriculture, while industry whistleblowers and watchdogs warn him of the risks to his freedom and even his life if he dares to persist.

As eye-opening as Blackfish and as inspiring as An Inconvenient Truth, this shocking yet humorous documentary reveals the absolutely devastating environmental impact large-scale factory farming has on our planet, and offers a path to global sustainability for a growing population.

After it was over Mike kind of looked at me and said “Well shit, I guess we have to stop eating meat.”  It just snowballed from there.

As it turns out, there are LOTS of great reasons to cut animal products out of your diet.

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Not to mention the overuse of antibiotics in meat, dairy, etc. that has led to an astronomical number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. People are now dying of infections that were easily treatable just 20 years ago. Did you know that there is a strain of salmonella that is resistant to all 8 of the antibiotics we have to treat it? How is that even possible?

But I digress.

Before you begin making assumptions I would like to clear up a few things:

NO, we are not going to become the Vegan Police and preach to unwilling victims about the superiority of a plant-based lifestyle.

NO, we are not going to sit there and judge you for eating animal products. There will be no passive-aggressive remarks, sideways looks, or forcing people to accommodate us by refusing to go anywhere that meat is served.

NO, we have not joined PETA or become crazed animal rights activists (although I have always believed factory farming is a horrific experience for animals).

NO, we are not interested in hearing your opinions on our choices unless you want to discuss them in a calm and civilized manner, with an open mind.

NO, this is not going to become a website about being vegan, but the recipes from now on will probably be at least vegetarian.

On the flip-side of that:

YES, we are happy to discuss why we have decided to move away from eating animal products, and we will endeavour to do so in a way that is non-judgemental, non-condescending, and friendly.

YES, we are getting enough protein, calcium, vitamins, minerals, calories, etc.

YES, we are still the same people as before. You can still invite us over, or out for dinner or drinks and I promise it won’t be weird or uncomfortable.

YES, we are really sure that we want to do this and that it’s a good choice FOR US.

YES, we sometimes consume weed edibles by choice, but hey, that’s a plant too!

Trust me, we have thought this through. Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I was pretty much a 9th Level Carnivore for my entire life. I would not give up meat on a whim, nor did we watch one documentary and then break out the tofu. Cowspiracy sparked a load of intensive research on our part (anyone who knows me also knows that I research things at length. It took me 2 weeks of research to pick out a COFFEE MAKER if that’s any indication. I won’t tell you how long I looked into the garcinia side effects before I tried it.)

“To consider yourself an environmentalist and still eat meat is like saying you’re a philanthropist who doesn’t give to charity.”

~ Howard Lyman

Given our love of rocks and trees, of nature and the outdoors, we can’t continue to support the animal agriculture industry.  Even organic/ethical farming practices are contributing to an inefficient and unsustainable food production system.

I have been all kinds of hesitant to write this post, mostly because I generally don’t love doing “public service announcements” about our life choices. They seem a bit attention-seeking and frankly I don’t look for approval from others when I make decisions. After some reflecting I decided that this issue is important enough to me that I should be able to write about it if I wish. It’s also an easy way inform our family and friends that “Hey, just so you know, I don’t eat animals anymore” without having to bring it up in a more direct and potentially uncomfortable way. In fact the people I spend the most time with, my co-workers, didn’t even know I stopped eating meat until over a week after I had stopped, and only after I reluctantly mentioned it in a conversation that was relevant to the topic. A “loud and proud” vegan I am not.

We are happy to answer any questions you have, in the comments or in person. Just please keep it respectful.  If you’re interested in getting more information yourself, I highly recommend the following documentaries on Netflix to start with:

  • Cowspiracy
  • Forks Over Knives
  • Vegucated
  • Food Matters
  • Hungry For Change

 

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2 Responses to “Coming Out” As Vegan-Lite

  1. Hexychick says:

    I’ve started to have an internal struggle with eating meat and feeling a certain way about it, but not enough to actually convert (yet?). The problem I run into when searching for alternatives to ween me over is that I can’t eat a lot of them or just flat out hate them. Basically my restrictions are: soy, cashews, mushrooms, and most squash varieties. Like I see these awesome vegan recipes for alfredo sauce, but it’s all cashews. Or vegan cheese, but again, cashews. Do you have any suggestions for alternatives to those things? Also, from a newly veganized standpoint, how hard was it to switch over? Every time I try to cut meat out I end up relapsing big time. Or when I have my period, I want to eat a steak the size of my ass and crave red meat like it’s not destroying the world. Any suggestions? I’d be really curious to hear your thoughts on that and totally cool with you emailing me.

    • Mike And Cal says:

      Hexy 🙂

      Thank you so much for commenting, and I am definitely so happy to help you in any way that I can. I am going to be writing you a more personalized email for sure, but for now I do have a couple of thoughts that might help you and maybe other readers.

      First, if you can, I would suggest switching over gradually. Like maybe start with aiming for a few animal-free meals a week, or even one a day, to get comfortable with some recipes (and I’ve got a bunch for ya!) and to find out what you like or dislike. I didn’t do it gradually because I am a cold-turkey kind of girl, and now my family and friends are all getting packages of frozen meat for Christmas because my freezers were full when we suddenly decided to go vegan. Gradual is better though, if you ask me. Maybe even aim at being vegetarian for a while (so you don’t have to give up cheese and milk right off the hop if you don’t want).

      Secondly, I will admit your list of “can’t have” did give me pause, but then I started thinking about it on my drive home and you can totally do this, even if you can’t eat soy and cashews. Vegan cheese can be made from nuts besides cashews, like almonds! I just saw this recipe the other day for what looks to be an amazing almond based cheese:

      http://www.landsandflavors.com/basic-almond-cheese/

      You can also substitute raw macadamia nuts for cashews in most vegan recipes without much change to taste or consistency in the final product.

      Also, I would try seitan for a meat substitute. I don’t know exactly where you live, but it’s a total bitch to find in Canada, so I do have a recipe you can make at home:

      http://www.theppk.com/2009/11/homemade-seitan/

      You can omit the soy sauce and use coconut aminos instead, or just omit it altogether I think. There are lots of great suggestions in the comment section of that post by the way, definitely worth reading, since a lot of people have modified it for dietary reasons.

      Pinterest is a wealth of ideas on meals. Also I love OneGreenPlanet.org and they post millions of delicious recipe ideas all the time. But seriously, Pinterest is your best friend, and also vegan cookbooks.

      Just found this Brazil nut Parmesan recipe too. Yes please!

      http://plantpoweredkitchen.com/2-vegan-parmesan-substitutes-brazil-nut-parmezan-and-cheesy-sprinkle/

      When it comes to your craving of meat, especially during your monthly, I will first suggest that you make sure you are on a really good multivitamin, one with quite a bit of iron, because that could be what is causing you to crave steak. Also a good B12 supplement is important for vegans and vegetarians. Make sure it’s the Methylcobalamin type, and I would strongly suggest the sort that you melt under your tongue, which improves absorption.

      When I am tempted to relapse I often remind myself about WHY I am doing this. Or I watch one of the documentaries I have suggested above in the post (I’ve seen all of them AT LEAST twice) because it helps me stay focused. Also planning is key. The worst time to try and be a vegan is when you’re starving and driving past a favorite fast food place. Do your best to make sure you always take snacks or your own food when you go out to run errands or take a road trip, which sounds like a lot of work, but it’s so worth it, I promise.

      I actually have another post in the works that I think you will really enjoy, which is basically 10 things I’ve learned about going vegan. I will hopefully get it finished this week.

      Anyway, that’s a start, but I will get on that email just for you and we can discuss some other ideas I have 🙂

      Hugs!

      Cal

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