Vegan: Beginning is easy – continuing hard

I love meat. I love everything about it. I love the chewing it; ligaments and muscle fibers clicking and popping in your mouth, as the rich warm juices of blood and sauce intertwine and rush across your tongue. I love the smell of burning meat. I love the smell of fresh raw meat. I love my steaks medium rare. The only reason I don’t eat my meat raw (beside the bacteria risks, is the fact that I like food hot. I love the fact that after 13 billion odd years of progress, we humans have evolved to be at the pinnacle of nature; we eat nearly everything, and nothing eats us. Usually. I love the elitism of meat. I love the hunt, the feelings of superiority; the idea that i am somehow at the top, and every other known life in the universe is eaten by something that is eaten by something that is eaten by me. I love the communal nature of meat: hunting with friends, barbecuing with buddies, fine dining with other universal elites. I love the texture. I love the flavor. I love steak, pork, hamburger, jerky, venison, milk, eggs, fish, poultry, reptiles, frogs (amphibians), escargot, caviar, cheese, dairy. The only type of living thing I don’t eat consciously or directly is insect life, though I hear insects are utilized in certain dishes and products.

With all of this said,  I decided to try being vegan for a week – just for the hell of it. I wanted to become aware of what I was eating, to be aware of my unconscious habits, and to gain awareness of another perspective. I didn’t just decide to cut out meat and dairy, instead I decided to cut out all foods that exploit animals all together. No wine strained through fish bladders. No jello (horse hooves and animal bones). No red dye (crushed female cochineal insect). No refined sugars (animal bone char in the refining process). Obviously no meat, cheese, milk, honey, etc. With those restrictions alone, that eliminates 95% of all the food that I eat, for while I might eat something that doesn’t contain dairy or meat, it might be processed through animal bladder, bones, teeth, skins, exoskeletons, or other exploitative processes. For the sake of sanity, I decided not to worry if the field mice in the soy fields harvest were mauled by the harvesting machines, or worry that the fruits and veggies I was eating were carried on trucks with vulcanized rubber tires. If you start to think that way, there is nothing “truly” vegan in this country, unless you grow the products yourself, create your own fertilizer, and make your own hand tools. Not going to happen.

The first thing I noticed is exactly how much cheese and dairy I eat. I literally eat cheese with every meal. I put cheese on my salads, on my pasta, on my sandwiches, on crackers, and on humus. I drink milk (a glass or two a day). I put cream in my coffee. I have tomato basil bisque, which you would think should be safe but it has cream! I eat bread, which often has milk and eggs. I suppose that also rules out most cakes, brownies, pastries and baked goods. Oh, but the refined sugars knock those out already. Some pretzels, crackers, and potato chips are safe. But not all. Kosher is not necessarily safe.

Vegans have all sorts of vegan alternatives: veggie burgers, Green Peas (Culver city), Veggie Grill (where they have burgers, chicken, beef, and pork that look like the real thing and taste marginally like them but allow all the vegan meat cravers to pretend they are eating meat). There is vegan-aise (mayo subst.), soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, (to pour over your flax cereal, and put in your brownies made with raw flour and raw sugar. There is tofu, veggie yogurt, and all sorts of faux meats and cheeses to substitute. Seaweed snacks and rice cakes with humus are good snacks, and you can even eat dark chocolate.

Be warned (hasty generalizations and hyperbole to follow): every vegan will rave about all the substitution foods and claim that you can’t tell the difference, but you can. They rave to each other about how good their vegan foods taste, and worry about cutting calories from their calorically empty diets. They reinforce each other’s beliefs about how bad meat tastes, and how bad it is for you, and how bad it is for the animals and environment. They all express opinions about how gross eating meat is. These conversations serve the purpose of bolstering their weakening resolve, for every veggie/vegan wants a delicious milkshake, a rich burger, and fries. Not to mention all the other delicious food we non vegans enjoy without ever thinking of its origins. Oh, and vegans can’t handle desserts to save their lives. The sheer amount of sugar in one bite of a brownie with ice cream would knock them off their feet, since their bodies have forgotten what every american 6 year old’s body knows as daily life: sugar processing! Some vegans are so extreme that large quantities of fruit will do similar things!

I have a lot of respect for vegans. I tried to be vegan for 5 days. I made it 3 1/2. I didn’t slip by accident: I couldn’t take it any more when a delicious piece of honey glazed fried chicken was waved under my nose. I starved for three days. I effectively ate nothing but fruits, nuts, salads, greens, vegetables, vegan crackers, and humus. I was always eating, never satisfied, and I had the worst gas of my life – it was damn near constant. I was low on energy, and felt awful. All of my vegan friends told me that “it gets better, and you will feel so much better if you stick with it: it’s like exercising!” That may have been true if I made it for a couple of weeks, but all I could see was that everything that I wanted to eat was unavailable to me, taunting me, and everything I could eat looked like a side to a main course. I was eating only the food that the creatures I am accustomed to eating eat. It takes great restraint and education to be a good vegan. It requires an unwavering dedication to a love of animals, and a strong support group around you to encourage you. The psychic powers that you gain as a result don’t hurt either.

I’m glad I tried vegan-ism. I am glad for the awareness and enlightenment that I have received. NEVER AGAIN will I give up my seat at the height of Life in the Universe!

Ok enough, All of this food talk is making me hungry. I am going to eat my one meal a day 1500 calorie gorging, that will last me for 16-18 hrs, before a quick bite before bed. Where is my salami, brie/gouda, pepperoni burger with avocado? Maybe I’m gonna grab a side of humus and olive oil, and some rice cakes too! I’m starved!

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