Monday, March 22, 2010

FAQ part one on veganism

1) When did you become vegan?
- Well, I've been a vegetarian for over a year and decided it was time to try to eliminate ALL animal products from my diet. I was vegan for 21 days, and after those 21 days came to the conclusion that I do not need to label myself. I now say that I am 99% vegan. The 1% gives me wiggle room when I am traveling, or visiting with family and can't do anything about it. I am only 18, and I do not want myself to feel guilt if I slip up and eat a small piece of pizza or a small dish of ice cream.

2) What DO you eat?
Being vegan doesn't mean you have to eat tofu and sprouts. A vegan diet includes all grains, beans, legumes, vegetables and fruits and the nearly infinite number of foods made by combining them. This site is great. It shows that when vegan, you really are not depriving yourself! There are also many vegan versions of familiar foods like vegan hot dogs, cheese, ice cream, mayonnaise and much more.

3) How do you get enough protein?
- Usually the first question I get asked when someone hears I don't eat meat is how do you get your protein?! They are always asking seriously, with concern, and though I want to laugh because I already knew they were going to ask, I try to answer seriously. My answer is always something like, "Actually humans don't really need as much protein as we think we do..." We have been taught since childhood that we need tons of protein to be healthy, and that the best form of protein is meat. Both of these assumptions are wrong. Humans actually need far less protein than we think, and it's simple to get it all from non-meat sources.
Most Americans eat about double the amount of protein they need every day! A vegan eating a normal, healthy diet is actually consuming a more reasonable amount of protein than people who eat meat products. In fact, it's been found that consuming too much protein can lead to several harmful diseases. And, animal protein is actually harder for our body to digest than protein from plant sources. Plants provide excellent protein that is easy for our bodies to digest. So, vegans do eat plenty of protein.

4) Do you get enough calcium?
- Yes, and actually, calcium from plants is easier for our bodies to digest than calcium from animals. So, I actually get lots of calcium. Calcium from animals is not as digestible as calcium from plants, so you don't absorb as much calcium from milk and dairy as from vegetables, beans, grains, and fruits. Milk is pushed as being a great source of calcium because it has a lot of calcium in it, but if you body doesn't absorb it as well as non-animal calcium sources, what's the point? Actually,
Have you ever stopped to wonder why HUMANS are drinking COW milk? It is very strange. All mammals drink the milk of their mothers until they are weaned. Unlike all other mammals though, humans continue to drink milk after weaning and into adulthood, and not just that, we drink the milk of another species! To state the obvious (but often overlooked fact) cow’s milk has evolved to help turn a small calf into a cow in less than a year. That’s why cow’s milk contains around four times as much calcium as human milk. Calves need a huge amount of calcium to promote the massive level of skeletal growth required over the first year of life. A human infant does not require such high levels of calcium; indeed the high mineral content of cow’s milk puts a strain on the human infant kidney which is why most governments strongly recommend that children do not drink normal ‘off the shelf’ milk in the first year. Why do you think so many people are lactose intolerant?? Our bodies produce an enzyme called lactase that helps break down the lactose in food. Most of us lose that enzyme after about 2-3 years of life-- when we are supposed to be done drinking milk! It's not natural for us to drink another animal's milk, but we drink gallons and gallons of it because we think it will give us great calcium and protein.

Won't the animals just die anyway? And if we don't eat the animals, won't they overrun the world?
We don't just happen to kill and eat animals to save them from dying a natural death. We breed more than 9 billion farm animals in the U.S. each year because of the consumer demand for animal products. If we stop buying animal products, animal industries will have no incentive to keep breeding these animals.

6)Isn't being a vegan expensive?

- There is nothing inherently more expensive about a vegan diet. If a person wants to replicate his/her previous diet with animal analogous, then yes, it can be more expensive to buy veggie burgers, prepared seitan, Rice Dream Supreme, etc. But pasta, beans, potatoes, breads, fruits and vegetables are all generally less expensive than the animal products of similar nutritional value.

7)Isn't it hard to become vegan?
- It can be, especially if you hold yourself to too high a standard. But the important thing is to make changes you feel comfortable with, at your own pace. While reducing your consumption of animal products completely may be ideal, any reduction is a step in the right direction. The vegan lifestyle is an ongoing progression. Everyone should go at their own pace and remember that all steps towards veganism are positive.


Anonymous said...

You said it, seriously! Ive been a vegetarian for about three years now and labels don't matter its what personally matters, and you made simple understandable answers to curious outsiders, props! :) I get questioned a ton and haven't answered them as well as you said it just there!

Samantha Rae said...

Well thank you very much :) You are so right- labels do not matter it is what personally matters. <3