Friday, January 13, 2012

Well... Here goes nothing. We're going vegan.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard. Carrie Isaacson and I are going vegan for a week. As I sit here over my extremely non-vegan breakfast of two eggs, a sausage patty and key lime pie yogurt (my favorite), it’s beginning to dawn on me how difficult this whole “going vegan” thing is actually going to be. My only hope is that my digestive system does not decide to go on strike for the duration of this challenge.

When one decides to go vegan, it is a difficult (and emotionally challenging) time, full of research, substitutions and the horrible realization that the few items you thought might fit this lifestyle and make your life worth living are probably not vegan. Let’s perform an exercise, shall we? Pull out a pen and piece of paper. Now make a list of all the tasty things in your life you assume to be vegan. Now throw it away. Because you’re probably wrong.

Here is a very short list of the things I once assumed were vegan, but are not:

Starburst, heart-healthy orange juice (contains Omega-3s from animal sources), general anesthesia, non-dairy creamer, some refined sugar, many wines and beers (stemming from the filtration process)…. The depressing list goes on and on. And on.  

As far as the “vegan lifestyle” is concerned, it’s pretty much impossible to pull off. Did you brush your teeth this morning? Do you wash your clothes? Do you enjoy those scented candles? Does your house contain sheet rock? If the answer was yes to any of these questions, you should thank Bessie the cow for her contributions to society (especially hygiene, no one likes that one guy on the bus who seemingly hates deodorant and shampoo). I guess the biggest question is, why shouldn’t animals be utilized to their fullest? It would be a waste to throw away parts we can get use out of, that’s just silly. This chart may be a bit extreme, but I’ve seen it floating around a lot lately. It highlights all the things in our lives that are not vegan:

Certainly you may argue that a lot of these products have vegan substitutes. That is true. But you’d go broke trying to replace everything in your life with things that are not vegan. Even your car is not vegan. Think about it folks, where did oil come from? How about all those plastic parts?

So why did Carrie and I decide to go vegan? Well I wish I could say this was a spur of the moment decision stemming from recent animal rights actions, but this idea has been in the works for months now. We’re not saying veganism is bad, certainly there are herbivores out there who support production agriculture practices and merely choose this diet as an attempt at a healthier lifestyle. It seems, however, a lot of vegans hold the thought that raising and eating animals is the cruelest thing in the world. As a dairyman myself, I can tell you that I care more about those girls on the dairy (and their comfort and health) than I do about just about anything else. I just happen to also care that their meat and milk are exceptionally tasty and full of nutrition, so sue me.

Probably, the biggest inspiration for our adventure into veganism is that so often we try to ask consumers to understand our perspectives as agriculturalists, when we don’t attempt to understand their choices. This week will be an exercise in “walking in someone else’s shoes,” if you will.  So join us if you want, make your attempt at veganism. Try to understand why someone would want to engage in this lifestyle. If we can do this, maybe, just maybe, we can be a little closer to gaining some common ground with consumers, understanding perspectives and communicating our positive messages as agriculturalists.  


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  2. I'm doing just fine after 2 years so you should be able to survive a week. Here are some snaps of just a few tasty vegan meals I've had in that time:

  3. My first bit of advice would be to focus on the food and not the drywall :). To get a more rounded experience on the food part of veganism:
    *make some simple recipes
    *make some things from the freezer aisle of your local grocery store like a boca burger or gardein
    *go out to eat

    If you don't want to buy a cookbook, check your local library. I recommend Veganomicon or anything by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Her blog on has some of her recipes printed out. They range from simple to complex. Her cupcake book is amazing, but not really dinner food.

    You can find places to eat on & yelp.

    This can be a fun experience, especially if you keep an open mind and toss out any preconceptions. If you find it too difficult to do all at once, don't stress out. Instead take it at a slower pace. It could allow you to get a deeper understanding about what the whole vegan thing is about.

    Good luck & happy eating :)

  4. Good luck, Carrie and David! You can do it!

  5. I've been vegan for nearly 2yrs now. Boca BURGERS taste like crap. Try the Boca Chik'n patties. (You'll thank me.... the burgers are awful). Bean burgers are easy and fast. I enjoy Amy's Kitchen products. Not all Morning Star Farm products are vegan, but most of Boca's stuff is.... LETS SEE...don't forget to press the tofu(like tuna) if you get brave enough to try it... I wish seitan didn't take an hour and a half to home make, I love seitan(if you're not gluten intolerant). Gardein is excellent... I don't like tempeh, others do... but if you're only going vegan a week... I wouldn't bother.... whole wheat or brown rice pasta with an actual marinara (double check a lot of pasta sauces hide dairy ingredients) is naturally vegan. Earth Balance is good Daiya 'cheese' is good (soy cheese is nasty,I think, I'd stay away from that stuff,but its up to you)goodness, what else.... find a green you like, eat it in a salad(every day, preferably) find a green you don't like (except kale because of texture,it might make this weird to you)and blend it with fruit you like and a non-dairy milk or some water for a smoothie with your oatmeal, every morning.... essentially, those are my tips. Lol. I hope I helped and I hope you enjoy some of the food you try. :-) I'm on twitter @teddieleigh and I have a tumblr and a wordpress feel free to reach out. :-)

  6. Also, I dont have a problem with individual farmers,I know and am related to farmers, I have a problem with a lot of the practices that are part of the norm in industrial farming... not that farming happens,but that some big businesses impose on farmers(who genuinely care the animals) some odd,I'd argue abusive things,in order to save their corp money. Since I have a problem with that, veal always bothered me AND I'm allergic to dairy, I chose to become vegan. I've never been to your farm or seen footage from your farm of someone abusing animals but, when I go to a grocery store, I don't know if I'm getting just YOUR cow or your cow mixed with all these other abused cows. If I missed meat, I'd be eating grass fed cows from a farmer I knew,but since I don't I won't. I much prefer not eating it all.I feel better better and I'm healthier not eating it. Its just a personal preference. Bravo,though, for opening yourself up to this.

  7. Oh, my goodness! Lol. I don't think I've ever wanted a blog update so bad! Haha. How did the first day go???

  8. This is so exciting, David! Great project; I'm interested to see what happens. At first I was nervous you had actually become vegan, and I was very confused as to how someone from Hilmar/Stevinson could conceivably make that lifestyle change haha. But this looks very interesting! I had a lot of vegan/vegetarian friends at school, and I could never quite understand them, so kudos to you for putting yourself in their shoes! I know I never could!