World Vegan Day
Today is World Vegan Day.
10 years ago you may have gotten away with using "it's just too hard" as your excuse for not going vegetarian or vegan. But with all the fake meats and vegan restaurants springing up all the time, you no longer have that excuse (especially if you're in NYC). If you are a compassionate person who is thinking about going vegetarian or vegan, there are many great resources all over the web. Cool Vegan is one. PeTA's website has recipes and a list of "accidentally vegan" items. And Happy Cow has the most extensive list of vegetarian and vegan restaurants that I've seen anywhere. And of course, you can always drop me a line if you want to hear living proof that going vegan is not hard.
If you plan on going vegan, you will get an onslaught of questions/stories from family, friends, and strangers. Some of the questions are good ones, most are not. Here are the most common ones I get, along with my responses.
-"What does that mean exactly?"
-It means I don't eat any animal products. I also don't wear any animal products, but some vegans have differing opinions on this issue.
-"So what can you eat?"
-A lot of things. If you have a healthy diet then my diet is probably pretty similar to yours, only I substitute meat and dairy with soy products (fake meats, tofu, soy milk, etc.).
-"So why did you go vegan? Why not just be a vegetarian?"
-Going vegetarian is a great first step, but it's only cutting out part of the problem. It's like if you were fed up with evil corporations so you boycotted Walmart but still smoked cigarettes. The truth is, the dairy industry is worse than the meat industry. Cows in the meat industry are put out of their misery much faster than dairy cows, who are raped and tortured for years before they are killed. Plus, veal is a byproduct of the dairy industry, so if you support dairy, you support veal. Maybe this will explain it better.
-"I get the dairy and meat issue, but why honey?"
-Honey is an animal product. The idea of veganism is that we don't support the exploitation of animals. It's pretty simple, but here's further explanation of the honey issue.
-"Well, I'm not a vegetarian, but I don't eat any red meat" or "I don't eat very much meat."
-That's great. Anything you can do to help is good. If you're concerned about health, reducing your meat and dairy intake is a great idea. But if you're concerned about the well being of animals, STOP EATING THEM. It's not hard.
-"I'm thinking about going vegan. I think I'm going to cut out milk first. Then cheese. Then products with milk in them, then..."
-The best way to do it is to make a firm decision and stick with it. Cutting out certain products one at a time will be much harder than just quitting cold turkey (nope, not intended).
-"But I've eaten meat for so long. It will be too hard at this point to quit."
-My dad recently became a vegetarian after eating meat for over 50 years. If he can do it, anybody can do it.
-"Don't you miss steak though?"
-No. I haven't eaten meat in 9 years. And I've been vegan for almost 2 years. Once you make the change (if you're serious about it) you know no other way. It becomes habit. From my own personal experience, the thought of eating meat never crosses my mind, so I can't miss it. If I were to think of meat, I wouldn't be able to get past how grotesque it is. Besides, vegan foods are so much more exciting.
-"I would like to go vegetarian, but my parents would get upset."
-Hmmm. Yeah... then you shouldn't go vegetarian. Stick to tradition.
-"My friend was a vegan/vegetarian for a week and then she got sick and had to go to the hospital and..."
-Your friend is an idiot. She probably had a horrible diet. The truth is a vegan diet (done the right way, of course) is the healthiest diet you can have. If you don't believe me, check out The China Study, the most comprehensive health study ever, that concluded, "People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease" and "people who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease."
Still unconvinced? Then you're probably hopeless. Good luck with that heart attack.