Eating Animals…boo! (a.k.a Toying with becoming vegan)

I have found myself in a dietary quandary lately. I finished reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer about 3 weeks ago and since then have not been able to eat many meals with relative moral comfort (don’t get me wrong, I am still eating whatever I want but am just feeling bad about it afterwards). Not since reading Gandhi- which catapulted me into vegetarianism 2.5 years ago- have I been so convicted of the far reaching effects my eating choices have.

Normally a fiction writer ( Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), this is Foer’s first stab at a non-fiction work. It is based on his own journey with dietary choices set off by the upcoming birth of his first child. Though definitely not a book that champions the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, it is one that will cause you to think about how the choices you make at the grocery store or restaurant impact more than just your waistline or pocketbook.

At least it did for me. Can I eat sushi now that I know 140 other animals are killed in the process of catching enough of the right fish to make me one Spicy Tuna Roll? Can I eat that pound of shrimp now knowing the trawling it takes to collect them destroys miles of underwater ocean environment that takes years to replace? Can I buy eggs from Walmart or Kroger knowing that more than 250 million male chicks are slaughtered at birth each year simply because they were not blessed with the right parts to lay eggs while we mock with this waste the 250 million+ people around the world who go hungry each day? Should I, as a father, make bold dietary decisions now for my child so that a new generation grows up that is aware of these issues and takes action to make things better? Needless to say, every time I sit down to eat something other than a salad or potato, these questions constantly swarm through my head.

So, I have been toying with taking another step in my dietary evolution and becoming a vegan. The mockery we have made of the blessings we have been given, I can no longer ignore. We are dishonoring created life through our gluttonous drive to have more meat, eggs and dairy products sooner- regardless of the negative side effects it has on us, our children, and the animals used to produce these products. But there are several problems with me becoming a vegan:

    1. I don’t really know any vegans so I am a little unsure of how to truly become one
    2. It seems expensive. Can my budget handle it?
    3. I am not the only one in the house. Can my wife and kid make that commitment as well? If not, it would be nigh impossible to make it happen

Any helpful thoughts out there would be greatly appreciated. I did want to give a shout out to a new blog- Soundly Vegan – that I ran into over at E’s blog. I respect their decision to go vegan because, in their own words, “we’re now a part of a much bigger cause by honoring life”. That is something I can get behind.

I have plans to make the Guajillo Chili Bean Burgers here soon. If you are around Jtown next Tuesday let me know and you can sample them with us.

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9 responses to this post.

  1. I have nothing to add to this conversation, as I am a woman of questionable moral character who will never be vegan. Or vegetarian.

    No, I have nothing to add, except that in my feed reader your post was directly above this: http://icanhascheezburger.com/2010/01/27/funny-pictures-rite-rite-rite/. No need to thank me.

    Reply

    • Posted by themuffinman on January 27, 2010 at 1:02 pm

      Awesome! Thanks for the link. He does talk about eating dogs in the book. I am not sure cats would provide quite enough meat.

      Reply

  2. Hiya! Thanks for perusing and giving a shout out to our blog! We hope you enjoy the bean burgers. 🙂

    Thought I’d offer you a little insight to you questions about becoming vegan, since we are, too, the only vegans we know (in person, anyway).

    In response to your question #1, our blog has links to many other vegan blogs, and I try to update the blogroll regularly as I come across different ones when surfing the web. Also, http://www.compassionatecooks.com/ and http://www.goveg.com/ are two informational sites that I like. D is a regular on the vegan forums on http://www.veggieboards.com/boards/blog.php.

    Other resources:

    Books
    — Diet for a New America by John Robbins
    — The China Study by T. Colin Campbell
    — Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based Diet by Brenda Davis
    — Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World by Bob and Jenna Torres
    — so many more, but those would get you started

    Podcasts on iTunes
    — Vegetarian Food for Thought by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau from Compassionate Cooks
    — Vegan Freak

    Cookbooks
    — Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero
    — Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick Goudreau
    — The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick Goudreau
    — The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone

    Film (not exclusively vegan)
    — Fast Food Nation
    — Food, Inc.
    — Earthlings (free on the internet)

    2. Well, this would be dependent on how you live now. Do you and your family go out to eat often, including fast food? This would be virtually eliminated, thus saving money in that respect. You wouldn’t, obviously, be spending money on dairy, eggs, or meat. Organic produce is not always necessary (though some things we will only purchase organic, and organic is always more expensive). Casseroles and soups would last for several meals (we always make enough food to last for at least two dinners or dinner and lunch the next day).

    3. I think the key to this is communication with your wife and a slow conversion from what you currently eat to a purely plant-based diet. It is tough, as I tried becoming vegan twice before now, but this time, D was finally convince to go vegan as well, and now I don’t see how either of us could ever regress back to what we were before.

    If you ever have any questions about or struggles with veganism, just give us a holler.

    Regards,

    H (and D, too)

    Reply

    • Posted by themuffinman on January 30, 2010 at 12:59 pm

      Hi H,

      Thanks for all the info. I know it will be helpful in my continual journey to healthier and more ethical food destinations. I need to just get out and explore some as well. I live in a little town in West TN so being vegetarian is odd enough but becoming vegan might just get me shot.

      Reply

      • Understandable. I grew up in Bartlett (graduated high school many years ago with E), so I’m aware of the lack of options and the opinions of the locals. I stick out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of my family, all of whom still live in TN and MS.

        Good luck!

        H.

  3. I could try to hook you up with the guy from New Mexico public access tv. You know, the Willie Nelson look-alike who claimed that human cancer cells placed on cooked food lived and multiplied, whereas human cancer cells placed in raw foods withered and died. I bet he would have some resources for you.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Belinda on March 6, 2010 at 12:06 am

    Hi, I’d just like to say that the info and resources Soundly Vegan has provided is excellent and I could not recommend listening to Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s podcast more highly (iTunes link from http://www.vegetarianfoodforthought.com)

    If that’s the one thing you do, just listen to some of her episodes (especially from the earliest onwards). Colleen’s words are non-judgemental and she presents well researched information. Many of the questions you had have been addressed in specific episodes too.

    I have to say that going vegan was the best thing I ever did, and much easier than I thought. Once I learnt about the cruelty and injustice of animal use, I knew that not participating in it was the logical and right thing to do. Especially given the almost embarrassing amount of food choices I have in supermarket aisles.

    At first the change did seem like a huge step into the unknown (new cooking ways etc) and I had similar concerns as you. Now I look back and chuckle at all the things I worried about. They seem so minor once you get into routine. I honestly eat more variety now than I ever did.

    Rest assured that even if you don’t know another vegan in real life, there’s a very supportive online community out there, so you don’t need to feel isolated 🙂

    Best wishes and good luck.

    Reply

    • Posted by themuffinman on March 8, 2010 at 9:43 am

      Hi Belinda,

      Thanks for the encouragement! I am already a vegetarian in West TN so I am already an oddity so I am not too afraid of branching out there. It really is just about making the commitment. I am getting closer each day and shucking more foods from my diet. Wish me luck.

      Reply

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