Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Becoming Vegan: to Be or Not to Be?

I have been flying through the pages of Marion Nestle's What to Eat (much faster than I did for Hamlet), and I just finished reading the sections discussing dairy. While she does not even mention veganism in these sections, what she reveals about the dairy industry has gotten me thinking. Apparently, some of the claims that the Dairy Council makes about the alleged benefits of milk, cheese, and yogurt are nothing more than marketing ploys. Nestle also mentions that it is indeed possible to get adequate calcium and protein from alternative sources; dairy is not essential. Furthermore, conventional dairy farms feed and inject their cows with multiple hormones and antibiotics that I would rather not ingest. All this is probably old news to you vegans out there, but it has led me to this: either I should consume only organic dairy or none at all.

I have toyed with the idea of veganism for the past few months (as demonstrated by my "vegan lunch" goal), but there are a few factors to consider: 1) It would be near impossible to thrive off of campus options; all vegetarian options here include cheese. 2) It could potentially increase my food bills even further. (Correct me if I'm wrong). 3) I have a history of anorexia (~4 years ago), and cutting out another food group might not be the best idea for my health in general or for my bones. Any advice on this matter would be greatly appreciated.

OK, now that I got that off my chest, I can get to the fun stuff.
Tuesday

Last night for dinner, I attempted a pseudo-BLT with nothing other than tempeh (I gotta use this stuff up!). I don't happen to have any liquid smoke lying around, so my "bacon" was merely tempeh cooked in some Bragg's and chili powder. This rather tall sandwich also included some spinach, cherry tomatoes, and a dose of mustard. Salad and an apricot-mango yogurt completed the meal.

One of my splurge items from Monday's trip to Whole Foods was some Soy Delicious in espresso flavor. I had tried the "black leopard" flavor before for a VegFamily review and enjoyed it, so I decided to give another variety a taste. I enjoyed it last night with some dark chocolate chunks (70% cacao), and it was delectable! I was tempted to lick the bowl. I especially like that it is fruit-sweetened:)

Wednesday
I have officially broken out of my smoothie rut! This morning's flavor was strawberry banana: frozen banana, fresh strawberries, and some almond milk. I had some raw almonds on the side.

Lunch was eaten on the run today--I just had a few minutes between class and tutoring appointments. I had some Justin's Natural PB (in a cute little packet!) on Ak-maks, peaches with cinnamon and wheat germ, and some raw veggies. So tasty!

And finally, my afternoon snack for today, which I am enjoying as I type. It's a "flavor bowl" with plain nonfat yogurt, pumpkin with cinnamon, and some Nature's Path granola.

I will leave you with a picture of my oh-so-attractive ankle brace...

19 comments:

VeggieGirl said...

Caroline, I wish there was a simple answer for me to give to you, on the matter - as cliché as this may sound, you have to trust your gut instincts. When I decided to transition from vegetarian to vegan, it FELT right to me/for me - don't do it if you aren't sure about it.

ahh, I hope your ankle heals soon!!

romina said...

When I gave up dairy, I knew I was doing my body a favor. There are so many scholarly articles that explain that the high animal protein content and acidity of dairy products actually depletes your body of any calcium you might be getting from it.

What really got me thinking was the fact that North Americans have the highest incidence of osteoporosis than anywhere in the world. Also, when I thought of how many people are lactose intolerant, and still manage to get enough calcium, I realized that the dairy industry is a ploy. We don't need to nourish ourselves with a drink that is made for baby calfs, it is not made for the human body. And to subject cows to constant pregnancies in order to steal their milk, treating them like mini factories is just wrong. I also like to think to myself: what if cows took over the world and milked humans just like we do with them? We would be horrified (think of the Matrix, where human beings became batteries for the machines).

It's all about perspectives. The choice is ultimately yours. If you feel it is too difficult or costly, then it might be easier, but I'm sure if you talk to your cafeteria director, they would be willing to find ways to make you vegan lunches.

Best of luck with whatever you may choose. =)

loveofoats said...

Being an MBA student, I have read a lot of business/ethics cases about dairy that scared the crap out of me... I don't give it up completely, but I try to have it in really tiny amounts...

On a separate topic, the pb packets are SO awesome! I want them :)

Jill said...

Here's my take on calcium:

As far as I've learned from my nutrition classes, it's entirely possible to lead a dairy-free life and get plenty of calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. There are great other sources and all that. Even so, I know how hard it is to be vegan on campus (I tried once last year, AH!) and you are right, they only serve cheese-based options, bad for those of us who don't like cheese. I feel if you don't want milk or what not, then don't, but if you like it... go organic dairy only (it's really the best for the environment and the animals - huge difference).

Other comments:
My favorite soy ice cream EVER! Try the raspberry, it has SWIRLS in it. Your food is very 'Jill' in these days, I eat a lot like you!

Anonymous said...

Given your history with anorexia-and I share your history-I support you in seeking the support of a nutrionist who specializes in eating disorders before eliminating food groups. What is healthy and nurturing and right for someone without our history may not be right for us - and may trigger old deprivational ideas that eventually suck the joy and abundance out of our lives. Whatever you decide, its all good. I don't believe there is a right or wrong answer. Only my own experience. Good luck!

Jennifer said...

You should definitely read her book Food Politics, it goes much more in depth about the formulation of the USDA's 'Food Pyramid', it's fascinating and horrifying at the same time.

If you are going to go vegan, especially with your living situation and eating history, I personally would recommend doing it slowly, over time, that way you can add new foods as you stop eating others, so there is no missing food void. This is in no way expert advice, it just seems to me that if the change was gradual, you would be less likely to encounter problems.

Good for you for even considering it though.

I have to admit, I get really jealous of your salads when I visit your blog! Summer can't come soon enough!

ChickPea said...

VeggieGirl: Thanks for your input. I think you're right; it needs to be my decision, and only I can know what is best for my current situation.
Romina: your extra information is extremely helpful. I am still mulling everything over before I make a decision.
Loveofoats: Yes, before I do anything, I think I will merely try to reduce my dairy to small servings. If you want some of the PB packets, you can go to the Justin's website or www.minimus.biz
Jill: If I decided to become vegan, it would likely be something I attack once I am at home and can cook for myself more often. Yay for taste buds that are in sync! I will look for the raspberry soy ice cream...
Anonymous: You're right, I should be very careful in this decision regarding my health. While I don't think I am using veganism as an excuse to deprive myself, I am merely concerned that my body is not recovered enough to handle such a drastic change in my dietary makeup. I think I will at least wait until my ankle is healed to make a decision. Thanks for you input!

ChickPea said...

Jennifer: sorry, I didn't mean to exclude you from my response. We must have been typing at the same time.
I will definitely put Food Politics on my Amazon wish list:)
I think you're right, that I would need to transition slowly, unlike my transition to vegetarianism. When I eliminated me, I pretty much went cold turkey (no pun intended). With veganism, I think I might do a little more research before I make any drastic dietary changes to ensure that I don't lose weight etc.

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Hmmm it IS a tough decision... And I'm biased hehe. But in all seriousness, here are some thoughts:
Maybe you could vow to become a vegan after you graduate college... or maybe you could eat vegan meals except when you're in the dining hall...

As for the eating disorder thing, if you have a therapist, it'd probably be worth talking it out with her (or him), since you don't want a big change to spark a relapse.

Anyway, no matter what, do what's best for YOU :o).

On a completely unrelated topic, your mom is one smart cookie to make pumpkin pudding for Thanksgiving. I love the idea. But I never have to worry about my crusts on my pumpkin pie because my sister is an oddball and will gladly eat all my crust-- she likes it more than the filling!

Anonymous said...

hey, did you ever receive my email? I've been having internet trouble, so I sent it twice.

-Annie

ChickPea said...

CCV: I am thinking of a compromise for now, maybe like 75% vegan until I go home or something like that. It's all about baby steps:) I don't see a therapist anymore, but I'll talk about it with the next best thing--my mom!
Annie: Yes, I got your e-mail...I am working on a reply as I type.

val said...

you asked for advice, so here's my two cents: your food bills will only go up if you buy a lot of processed foods. Yes, fake cheeses and lots of faux meats will make a big dent in your pocket. But you'll learn what you like and how to shop for the way you cook. Just expect a period of adjustment. Second, I had anorexia and I actually credit veganism with a large part of my recovery. I was able to take all of that negative obsessive energy and focus it on learning EVERYTHING about healthy eating. Now cooking is one of my passions, along with natural health and nutrition. Sorry if this is more advice than you wanted. Good luck with your decision!

ChickPea said...

Val: Thanks for your advice--your suggestions/comments were exactly what I was looking for. I doubt that the faux cheeses would become a part of my diet, considering how many people seem to hate them! I hope veganism can be a positive thing for me as it has been for you.

Happy Herbivore! said...

The Dairy DISASTER. The Milk industry is a bunch of liars that want to get your money. For instance "Got Milk" was just a genius marketing campaign - drinking milk CAUSES osteoporosis - it doesn't prevent it.

Milk is gross.

milksucks.com

For me, I don't agree with the animals treatment and I think the idea of breastfeeding off a cow at 26 to be a bit repulsive.

I know several vegan with former eating disorders (myself included) sometimes being a vegan is easier. You know whats right and healthy without guilt and temptations

ChickPea said...

HH: Thanks so much for your input. I agree that dairy's benefits are exaggerated by the USDA; according to the book I'm reading, the USDA borders on flat-out lying. Anyway, more and more I am seeing that veganism and being an ex-ED victim are not all that incompatible...

trustmyintuition said...

I also experienced anorexia and binging. I feel it has helped me being mostly vegan because my focus is on being healthy and getting proper nutrition. It has changed my whole view on eating. Good luck with whatever decision you make. I'm sure it will be the right one.

ChickPea said...

Trustmyintuition: Thanks for your input...I just discovered your blog, and I love it!

Erin of Care to Eat said...

Wow! I know you wrote this in April but I found it from your Year in Review post. :) I'm recovering too actually! I've had eating disorders for 14 years so my family (not my husband, interestingly) are nervous about me trying a vegan diet.
I really love your blog and always look forward to your posts. :)

magpie said...

I just found this post too. I have/had/am in recovery from (do they ever really go away completely?) EDs for about 2.5 years but I've been an off and on vegetarian since I was 13. When I was more ED-ish I actually wasn't a vegetarian or vegan, but I think that eventually it's something I'd like to do. I recently went vegetarian again and so far it's been fine. I've actually been thinking less about food and feeling really good. Good luck with whatever you decide!