I won’t deny that I have received criticism from family members. They adhere to the idea that meat equals protein and therefore continued (healthy) human existence. This is not true, though, as research shows that a plant based diet can still provide protein without all the fatty acids and calories. I would even add that our culture has taken conditioned beliefs to the extreme by overeating and overbreeding animals. This has caused more problems than solutions to longevity through increasing cases of diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure and heart disease. But I digress.
To gain my family’s acceptance, I didn’t preach to them the reasons for my decision or argue about the science of nutrition, but rather showed them that I was dedicated to my decision by making dishes that could be eaten by everyone. I showed them that being a vegetarian wasn’t an inconvenience. I still get teased, but I just laugh it off good naturedly.
For a while, I felt embarrassed about not being a vegan (sans all animal products), though I avoid dairy products and eggs. Last Wednesday, I went to the TWU Vegan/Vegetarian Organization meeting and a visiting speaker from the Humane League Jose Elias shared with us their mission.
One of the points that Elias made was that we are not perfect and should not pretend to be “pure” vegetarians and vegans. Our goal is to lessen the impact of American consumerism on the lives of animals and that mission can be accomplished by our individual choices on a daily basis.
I literally breathed a sigh of relief during the meeting. While I try to buy vegan-friendly products, that isn’t always possible for me. His statement relieves each person of the guilt of being imperfect, but simultaneously encourages me to continue to make choices that benefit animal rights. My purchase is a choice, and because of other vegans’ and vegetarians’ purchasing power the paradigm is shifting slowly. In fact, by cutting meat out of your diet for a year, 13.4 animal lives are saved.
While I quit eating meat cold turkey, the Humane League representative suggested trying to eliminate meat from your diet a small bit at a time or try it for a day. Trying “Meatless Mondays” was one of the suggestions. Historically, Meatless Mondays was an government implemented initiative during WWII when the country was trying to save rations for our soldiers. While it seems ridiculous, eliminating meat from your plate once a week significantly impacts providers—especially when a group of people collaborate.
I always get asked where and what I eat when I go to restaurants. To be honest, I try to save money by not eating out—but unless I go to a steakhouse I am always confident that there will be at least one meatless option on the menu. And folks, I don’t just eat salads all the time. It is so easy to adjust your lifestyle. Typically I would eat dinners with two vegetable options and one meat dish. Now, I just eat three different types of veggies instead. I’ve also saved money grocery shopping. The most expensive vegan foods to buy are dairy alternatives, but their portions go a long way so it’s worth the money spent. If you are interested in seeing what it would be like and how you feel afterwards (will you even notice meat missing from your plate?) I recommend trying Meatless Monday and signing up for the email list to receive recipes. Also, you can reach out to the Humane League at thehumaneleague.com or find out more about TWU VVO by emailing Micheal Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org.