You are what you eat.. a Vegan Food Activist?

25 Sep

The Vegan Thing… 

A few months ago I heard a radio broadcast featuring Howard Lyman, a former Montana cattle rancher turned strict vegan. This weekly radio program, called Deconstructing Dinner, has become my favorite over the last year and has been the main driving force behind my decision to become “vegan“.  I use quotations marks when calling myself a “vegan” because I have not yet found a better term to describe my eating habits. To say that I was a strict vegan would be wrong, as would assuming that my dietary decisions were primarily based on animal welfare as that seems to be the most common reason for the switch. Because I don’t feel that I fit squarely into the common vegan identity, most people are a bit confused and don’t really understand exactly what it is I am trying to do. While this is often an opportunity for me to explain my point of view and my ideas on the subject, it’s also a bit frustrating. If I am being good about holding to my own personal guidelines, it’s nearly impossible to socialize if food is involved, whether eating out or staying in! So needless to say, it is a challenge being a “vegan”, or at least my version of it.

The Food Activist Thing…

I consider myself to be an environmentalist and for the last few years have been trying to find the best way to express that in my daily life. Sure, I can recycle and buy green products, volunteer, wear clothes made out of hemp and drink fair trade coffee. But I can’t do it all, no one can. As human beings in this day and age, we must take advantage of our strengths and our passions. I’m quite fond of music, movies and FOOD. The more I learn about the food industry, the misleading advertising, the injustices and poor working conditions, the politics and control, and the health issues that are now rampant in our society, the less I can justify buying anything processed.

So how do I define myself? What is it that I eat and why? Well, I’ve decided to provide what I like to call my List of Priorities. It is very difficult to hold to all of these 100% of the time. As a Vegan Food Activist, I am constantly making decisions about what is most important to me that week, day or moment. And sometimes, I just really want sushi…

  • In general I do not eat processed food. This includes pretty much everything, but there are certain exceptions: 1) beer & wine – though I do drink mostly organic and local beverages 2) tofu – I don’t use it much, but umm… there’s no way I’m making it myself 3) tomato paste – I use it constantly and am not yet ready to make it myself 4) various organic/natural/locally produced snacks – sometimes. I mostly buy these for other people! 5) bread – I often make my own, but sometimes a quicker version is required. I never buy white, and I usually buy something produced by a local bakery.
  • In general I don’t eat sugar. I do currently use sugar in baking but no doubt will transition to other options at some point. Regular cane sugar is not considered to be a vegan product for various reasons anyway (though as I’ve mentioned, strict veganism is not exactly my priority.) So what do I eat instead? Fruit and honey. Local, seasonal, wonderful fruit and honey. I was suprised at how my cravings for things like cookies, candy and chocolate pretty much vanished after a while and sugary foods eventually became difficult to eat.
  • Dairy. Hmm. Dairy is my gateway drug. Though I don’t generally eat dairy, sometimes cheese is required. I’ve broken down and eaten cheese that was boring and tasteless and regreted it afterwards. Ideally, I’d like to partake in the cheese and the egg once in a while.. and it better be good when I do! (Oh and local and organic and all that crap)
  • Red meat, poultry, fish and meat substitutes. Generally = no. Though I’d rather eat local, organic chicken than say, a bag of Doritos. And meat substitutes are what? Yes. Heavily processed foods. Also, I find most vegan and vegetarian dishes to be well, lazy. There are many wonderful and tasty sources of protein in nature (that humans have been eating for millennia) and I don’t really understand why people don’t always take advantage of what’s readily available… and unprocessed!
  • Farmers’ Market. Farmers’ Market. Farmers’ Market. Fresh, local food. Supporting variety, the local economy as well as the farmers. Many farmers in North America and making little more than they did in the 70’s.
  • I make a lot of my own stuff. Beans, bread, pizza dough. These things are really not as difficult as you might think, or as time consuming! I’ve watched plently of mind-numbing, reality TV while baking bread!

So, there you have it. Pretty much. As a rule, I don’t eat processed foods, or sugar or meat or dairy. Umm… anyone want to go out and have dinner? :/


5 Responses to “You are what you eat.. a Vegan Food Activist?”

  1. nakedthoughts September 25, 2007 at 9:04 pm #

    I agree! I was thinking about writing a whole post about how I don’t like labeling myself. I generally try to eat vegan, but it is primarily for environmental reasons. Secondarily health. I don’t want to actively hurt other animals, but that is not my shtick.

    I generally cheat with occasional bits of honey, very rarely some fish or even more rarely dairy (preferbaly yogurt as it has the good bacteria).

    If you’re in San Diego County area I know some places you might enjoy eating.

  2. Santadelic September 25, 2007 at 9:10 pm #

    how easy is it to get non-processed food in North America these days? (I live in Europe)

  3. mindfulindividual September 25, 2007 at 11:28 pm #

    nakedthoughts: yes it’s interesting trying to explain things to people. and frankly it’s even a challenge to be “vegan” in San Francisco. One of the most popular vegan restaurants in the area I happen to find rather boring. it’s not likely I’ll be in SD anytime really but keep in touch and if you’re ever up here we can eat together!

    Santadelic: yes it is just as easy to find non-processed food here. but most people are just used to the convenience and don’t plan ahead. i lived in the UK for a few years and I think one main difference is that, depending on where you live and what your situation is, people in the US tend to shop less often and buy more.. so frozen, processed food is easier to deal with. in a sense, I am lucky as I don’t have children to deal with and live within walking distance of some great shops and markets. honestly though, if I had children I’d probably be even more of a stickler about this stuff!

  4. Leo November 27, 2007 at 11:01 am #

    I live by some of the guidelines myself.

    Life is too short to waste it eating the worng things for your body.

    Just out of curiosity….Do you know where I can get quality organic ingredients online? I am now trying to order from online stores only because of various reasons…….can you help me with any suggestions??????

    These are the places I have tried:
    celebrityfoods (best out of the 4)

  5. mindfulindividual November 28, 2007 at 2:36 am #

    I’d be happy to help. There are a lot of options out there. What sort of ingredients are you looking for and what general area do you live in?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: