Skip to comments.My Week as a Vegan
Posted on 02/26/2009 2:16:10 PM PST by nickcarraway
I have no idea what possessed me.
Maybe it was the nearly violent debates that occur at least once a day in my living room. Maybe it was the popularity of our vegan/vegetarian dining houses. Maybe I just thought it would make a good story. Whatever the case, I decided that I would be a vegan for a week.
First of all, if you have read my past articles, you know that I am no meat-and-potatoes kind of girl. I am an absolute omnivore, with the pathetic exception of cucumbers. Fried rattlesnake? Fine. Cucumbers? Not so much. I sometimes even prefer a vegetarian option to meat, but I also hold the firm belief that bacon makes everything better.
I wanted to know why people choose this lifestyle and how hard it is for vegans to manage here at Smith. If there are any ideal times to try being a vegan, your time at Smith is one of them. Having transferred from a large university, I can tell you that with an entire dining hall devoted to vegan and vegetarian options, as well as the probable option in other houses, vegans at Smith really have it made. I can see why so many Smithies dabble in veganism at some point during their four years. Many see the conditions associated with meat and other forms of animal mass production as a problem, and thus choose the diet to do their part in making the world a more humane place. At Smith, it is hip to be a vegan.
I never fully understood why vegans tend to group together until this week, when I began eating at the Northrop/Gillett dining hall. The place is like a haven, a small enclave on campus where students can go to relate and revel in their veganism.
Northrop/Gillett does have some really good eats; the food is thoughtfully prepared and there is a surprising amount of variety. I would certainly eat there again. However, it only took me an afternoon to realize that the naturally vegan foods, such as soups and salads, legume dishes and stir-fry, are the items that are actually worth eating. As you learn in grammar school, you should always be yourself, rather than try to pretend to be someone you are not. When someone puts macaroni and cheese in front of me and tells me it is vegan, we have a problem.
There are a few reasons why vegan foods like to put on airs. For one, I learned that a vegan diet gets old, and it gets old fast. When you think about it, all vegans can really eat are fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and tofu. It is understandable that things need to be mixed up, thus the creation of the "ultimate" shepherd's pie, vegan chop suey and soy-gurt. In trying everything I could this week, I found that while the appropriate outer appearance is often there in vegan substitutes, there is just something about the texture and taste that is not quite right, making me want the real deal even more, rather than these ingredient imposters.
Secondly, I think that deep down inside, no vegan truly wants to be a vegan. I do not know anyone who chooses to become a vegan because they prefer the taste of tofu bacon to the real thing. You choose this lifestyle - and after a week of following a vegan diet, I say this with utmost respect - either for health reasons or because it is your way of making the world more sustainable and humane. That is great, but do not tell me that you don't miss mac-and-cheese, apple pie or Girl Scout cookies. Vegans need fake cake and meatless meatballs because it is as close as you can get to what used to be so good.
My worst part of the week was on Rally Day. The Hubbard dining hall pulled out all the stops. Smoked salmon with bagels and cream cheese, quiche, bacon and coffee cake - so much effort went into that brunch, and it looked beautiful. While my friends socialized and laughed over full plates of what was clearly a special treat, I moodily stabbed at my oatmeal, ready to head over to Northrop so I could sit with my fellow vegans and brood in our shared self-righteousness - or self-pity - while we ate our tofu-scramble.
Food is a social entity, meant to be shared and enjoyed with others. It was then that I knew why vegans gather together in Northrop/Gillett. And if I planned on continuing a vegan diet, I would join them.
I want to be clear that neither the vegan nor the non-vegan diet is better than the other. Both have their positive attributes and both are flawed. I like ice cream and enjoy a good steak. I do not like being gassy all the time. That does not necessarily make me environmentally inferior to anyone else. I do my part in other ways such as recycling or supporting my local farmer - or my high school custodian who hunts deer in my backyard. I love food far too much to give any of it up.
For me, food is also a way for me to learn about other countries and traditions. I love how food evolves, how immigrants will bring their comfort dishes to their new country, fusing them with other cuisines as they are introduced to different ingredients and methods.
When I entered the world of veganism, I felt as though I had been closed off from a large sector of the rest of the food world. Vegan food can be shared, but it cannot receive outside influences, unless it is in imitation form, because of its severe limitations. It is exclusive, and without a social network, it is downright lonely. So thanks for sharing, vegans of Smith, but this Reeses that I am eating right now is absolutely divine.
There's room for all God's animal creations right next to the potatoes.
I have always thought that vegans are people who crave moral superiority but have a problem with at least one of the ten commandments or some other traditional regligious mores.
I can’t help it. I get a kick out of vegans. I’ve read their magazines and they seem to combine the worst elitism/superiority/martyr complex personality traits that you’ll find in hardcore feminists, gays, atheists, professional minorities and leftys in general.
Not that I consider it my business to judge people by what they eat, some do it strictly for perceived health reasons and some for religious (hindu, certain buddhists, jains, etc.) but for most, there really is an almost palpable eagerness to look down on the rest of humanity, even while whining about being persecuted. They are almost always extreme misanthropic PETA/greenies. For most, I’m betting it’s just a passing youthful enthusiasm. For the rest, I would advise getting to know one well before engaging in a relationship.
Absolutely! I know a couple from school. I would like to see their bodies in 15 years, after the shortage of nutrients sets in. A dentist will tell you how fast that diet wrecks your teeth, imagine what it is doing to your spine, blood supply and central nervous system. It is elitism, pure and simple. If everyone was a vegan, many animals would overpopulate and slowly starve and become more aggressive.
The buffet at the Bellagio is great; the Cirque de Soleil shows are a kick (but pricey); and I once saw Wayne Newton pass me on the the 215 Beltway.
Who wouldn't want to be a Vegan?
I would consider being vegan if I could still have beef, bacon and SPAM
Oh, they call me the meat man Ya oughta see me eat, m'am
-- Jerry Lee Lewis
Don’t get me wrong, years ago I read John Robbins’ “Diet for a New America” and he made some persuasive conservative/libertarian-sounding arguments against our meat-eating culture, saying that Big Agribusiness’ feedlot economy was outrageously subsidized by the taxpayer and that otherwise hamburger would be a hundred bucks a pound and food and utility bills would be much smaller. I don’t know, but that would be interesting if true and I think most people would prefer the freedom to choose.
It’s named for Sophia Smith, the founder of the college. I think we have a few Freeper(ette)s who are Smith alumni.
Oh, and vegans are fools and also kind of creepy. I’ll stick to my bacon cheeseburgers, chili cheese fries, and large numbers of sit-ups to keep my stomach flat after eating all that.
I have been a vegetarian for around 20 years. I am in good shape, healthy and happy. I honestly do not like the taste of meat, milk, chicken, fish etc...if others want to eat it....then let them...it’s none of my business.... ;)
I have one who works for me.
Your assessment is spot on.
You mean not on purpose...
I worry about their kids. Something tells me you need a normal human diet for normal brain development.
What the Vegans don’t think about, is that when harvesting those vegetables and fruits, the number of insects (sentient beings) that are killed. Being a practising Buddhist (a meat eater also), it seems that in order to survive, whether you are a meat eater or not, involves killing sentient beings.
I think if you wwere to ask most nutritionists and dietitians, they’d say the same thing. Children and teens need a more well-rounded diet.
In my weekly diet, I have scaled back on how much meat I eat. But there’s no way I could completely stopp eating meat.
And I could never become a vegan. I like things like milk and cheese too much. I’ve eaten tofu. In some amounts and depending on what you’re cooking it with, tofu isn’t the worst thing in the world.
But it’s a poor substitute for the nutrients a person would get from eating milk or cheese.
My favorite conversation with a vegan went something like this...
ME: So what made you decide to become a vegan?
HER: I came to the point where I realized my body is a like a temple and it’s up to me to not pollute it with all the toxins that are in animal products.
ME: That’s really interes...
HER: I’d love to tell you about this, but can we take our conversation outside? I’m absolutely dying for a smoke.
I have a little nutrition background (degree in exercise physiology) altho it’s a bit outdated. At any rate, I base what I think on at least some knowledge, and I think you’re right. We probably eat more meat, and more fatty meat than we have to, since it would have been difficult to get that much animal fat into our diet until recent times. Moderation and balance. And I have recently discovered edamame...wow, it’s tasty even if it seems like hippie food!
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.