“For those who want it to be, a plant-based diet is also a potent political comment on our broken food system. What’s so compelling about these personal stories — besides the inspirational message — is the fact that we’re looking at a diet for which the ultimate beneficiary is the individual. Healthy veganism explicitly serves no corporate or industrial gods. In fact, it counters these interests… [Executives’] fear is that people will stop eating animals altogether. It is veganism that keeps them up at night. As long as people keep eating meat, they’re happy. ”
–“The Evidence for a Vegan Diet” by James McWilliams (http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/01/the-evidence-for-a-vegan-diet/251498)
Thanks to Johnny Sized for the article recommendation (http://johnnysized.com/2012/02/05/evidence-for-a-vegan-diet/).
“What matters most is your overall way of living and eating. If you indulge yourself one day, then eat healthier the next. If you forget to exercise or meditate one day, do more the next. You get the idea. It’s a very compassionate approach.” (26) Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World by Kathy Freston
Returning to college after a month of free time at home creates some challenges. As I try to become more involved at school, my little pink agenda fills up very quickly. And what gets cut? Exercise.
Luckily, my conversion to a vegetarian coincided with my sudden decrease in exercise, so I did not gain any weight (as far as I can tell – I don’t keep a scale in my dorm room). I definitely lost most of the tone and definition I had worked so hard on for months – how did it all vanish so quickly?? But I started exercising again these past few days, and I feel a lot better. Now to just keep it up.
Something I never expected happened this past Sunday night. As I sat on the floor in my suitemate’s room eating tofu tacos with her, she asked “Why again do you think meat is bad?”
Speaking carefully so as not to alienate her, I explained, “It’s not that meat is bad; it does have protein. But it also has cholesterol, saturated fat, and no fiber. While the amount of fat in our meat has increased over the years because of the way we feed our factory-farmed animals, we’re eating much more of it than ever before.”
“Interesting,” she responded while looking away. “You know that my Big* is vegetarian, so I’ve actually been thinking about this for a while, and now you’re a vegetarian…”
She definitely had my attention.
“I don’t really eat a lot of meat anyway,” she continued. “Mostly chicken. But I think I’m going to try going vegetarian.”
I am still really surprised by my suitemate’s decision, as it was never my intention to convert my friends to vegetarianism, etc. She’s reading Skinny Bitch now, and although I haven’t read it, I’m excited that she’s learning more by reading. I offered to watch Forks Over Knives with her, so we’ll see how it goes.
Harvard University’s summary of protein and our health
*She has a “Big” (like a big sister kind of deal) because she’s in a fraternity
I received the worst reaction to the, “oh hey, I’m vegetarian now” from a different friend last week as I ate a veggie burger with my roommate. His entire attitude shifted once I uttered that phrase, and suddenly he barraged me with comments about never wanting to eat a veggie burger, asking why would I ever choose that over a real burger, and ew, it looks gross. I don’t enjoy being attacked while I eat (or really, at any time), so I tried to change the subject. The comments still came though, and I felt his opinion of me change right then. I smiled and enjoyed my burger.
After watching Forks Over Knives, I spent hours reading online about veganism and the transition to veganism. I remember one person describing how they lost friends, and I thought that was ridiculous. Suddenly, I get it. Why are some people so uncomfortable if their friend eats differently than they do? Conversely, why do so many people (meateaters, vegetarians and vegans included) feel the need to push their beliefs onto others? Why does what we eat have such a religious zeal attached to it? I’m not looking to answer these questions, but rather I am just surprised by these observations.
On a different note, I have grown more confident in my vegetarianism. It’s been just about 25 days of a meat-free lifestyle. I’ve been reading more books about food, food policy, veganism, etc. Perhaps it’s just that I am excited about using my snazzy new Kindle, or perhaps it’s my spiked interest in learning everything I can about food, but I’ve wolfing books down recently. (I’m currently on The Omnivore’s Dilemma.)
My college is known for its vegan and vegetarian options. While this was a fact I proudly promoted as I gave tours, it’s pretty cool to finally understand what it means. In the dining hall, I am aware of food options that I would have never considered previously. The best part is that my suitemate is also exploring these new options. It’s amazing how my plate has transformed from formally being full of meats and breads, often with few vegetables. My plate looks a lot healthier now.