Sunday, February 14, 2016

Not Yet Down for the Cow: Heifer Way Through My 1 Month Vegan Challenge

Here's the surprise: it's easy to be vegan if a) you already don't eat milk or fish, b) you know how to cook and/or you get your lunches from work, and c) you are generally not subject to strong bouts of craving and binging. All of these are true for me.

If I had thought that being vegan meant eating raw lettuce, bare cooked grains and tofu, that's just not the case. True, I made a stir fried tofu, broccoli, and asparagus, but I have also eaten vegetarian sushi, lentil pie, humus and/or falafel meals, vegetarian patties, cholent, tehina and bread, and PB&J, as well as vegan pizza, apple pie, blueberry and banana soy smoothies, roasted potatoes and antipasti, and countless other delicious foods. Yes, sometimes when I smell sizzling meat I hanker for it a bit, but really not much, especially since I'm only doing this for a month. If anything, the hardest problem in my particular circumstance is that I'm not driven by any of the major reasons I've heard that people become vegan.

I don't have a problem killing animals for food; heck, we kill animals by the millions just plowing a field to grow grain, not to mention how many more we kill to harvest and pack it. I don't like the way we raise animals today, but for that I prefer to lobby for better regulations in the animal industry.

As for the environment, I think the animal industry could use better regulation there, too, but I think the damage done by the animal industry is dwarfed by the damage done by other industries. And it employs a lot of people.

As for health: animals are no more packed with hormones and chemicals than the fruits or vegetables we eat. And, since I never believe anything a label, corporation, or government tells me, I put no faith in the concepts of organic, free-range, environmentally friendly, or any other claims by any industry. I took a blood test on the first day of February: I discovered that my cholesterol, lipids, and glucose are high, and my vitamin D and B-12 are low. Being vegan isn't going to solve these issues. I need to take vegan-friendly supplements for omega-3, D, and B-12, and a vegan diet isn't necessarily any less fatty than a meat diet. I admit that there is a correlation between being a vegan and eating healthier, because vegans are the kind of people who are aware of and concerned with what they eat.

Positive and negative side-effects after two weeks? I admit that I feel a bit - just a bit - less tired in the morning. On the other hand, I now eat a higher quantity of food, so I feel as bloated as I felt before the diet started. Otherwise nothing; perhaps two weeks isn't enough time to tell.

Another surprise is the feeling of deja vu: being vegan in Israel is like being kosher in the US. In the US, kosher people only go to specific restaurants, they have to excuse themselves from the meals that other people eat or the dishes they serve, and they fastidiously check labels in the supermarket. Since coming to Israel, I go to nearly any restaurant (in the Jerusalem are, anyway), can eat at almost any friend's house, and can buy any product I want in the supermarket. Being vegan is exactly like being kosher was in the US.

It may be that I have avoided a heart attack because I decided to do a blood test because I decided to be a vegan for a month, and now I am addressing my high cholesterol and low vitamin D; but, if I avoid the heart attack, we'll never know.

I went to a game shabbaton this weekend Read about what I played here.