NaNoWriMo Day 7: Vegan Struggles

“Where do you get your protein/iron/calcium/zinc/vitaminD/{insert any nutrient here} from?” It’s in the plants, people!

I was a vegetarian for a year before I went vegan around two months ago. I’ve never been strict, I ate fish sometimes. In retrospect I’m thinking: How could I? Fish = animals. Fish feel pain. The fish species we catch nowadays will be gone in 2048. I do not want to contribute to that.

A book opened my eyes as I started to consider that all animals giving us eggs and milk also are held in factory farming. The beaks of chicken are cut off, male chicken are killed before they grow. They live on tiny spaces and even the “Bio-Eggs” are from chicken who are slaughtered after one year because they will not give as many eggs the next year. We created a system in which it is cheaper to kill a hen and raise a new one than to let it live longer and get less eggs.

Cows. When do cows give milk? When they are having a baby. What is the purpose of that milk? To feed the baby and let it grow fast. What do we have to do to get the milk for ourselves? We need to take the baby away. Milk has a lot of fat so that the baby cow grows. 70% of people are lactose-intolerant. Why do we put dairy in our bodies then? I watched a video with an interesting question. Why cows? Why not chimpanzees? We are more related to primates than to cows! Would you find it gross to drink chimpanzee milk? Why do you drink cow’s milk? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4HJcq8qHAY)

Do you have pets? Why do you eat a pig than a dog? Whose rules are they? There are a lot of questions concerning veganism I would like to answer. It’s a choice and I want to show you an alternative.

“Why?”

I’m choosing a vegan lifestyle because I find the whole system of our food industry disgusting. These animals do not have a life. Each individual should have the right to live without pain, fear and being crammed in such a little space they want to kill one another. A life without being fed massive amounts of antibiotics or supplements. A life that does not lead up to being slaughtered after one year.

For environmental reasons. The emissions of factory farming are higher than of the whole transport system. We cannot sustain that in the future. We are polluting the water with the sewage of factories, polluting the air with the emissions. Polluting our bodies with the substances these animals have eaten.

For health reasons. A low fat diet prevents cardiovascular diseases, cancer and all the diseases we have acquired over decades due to a changed lifestyle. I’m getting much more iron now (green-leaved veggies, beans, grains), many more vitamins (because veggies make up 50% of my diet) and I feel awesome.

“How?”

It’s easy to be vegan. I would never have thought that. There are some rules, though.

1. Buy vegan food. If you only have vegan products in your fridge, you’ll have no problems.
2. Inform yourself. Where you get your nutrients from. Which products are be vegan. Which places you can have a vegan lunch at.
3. Stay calm if you are asked the same questions continuously. Rage doesn’t help. Try to inform others. It’s sad that you sometimes are urged to apologise for being vegan. For the inconvenience. For telling them about the current food industry and making them turn away. I hope that one day many people will be as supportive as my study course is.

“What do you even eat?”

I chose a high starch – low fat diet. That means I’ll have rice/ potatoes/ pasta/ etc together with veggies and legumes. I love eating. Today I finally found vegan gingerbread in the grocery store. Which leads us to the next question…

“Do you even know what’s in that whole vegan stuff?”

Of course I don’t. My food is produced by the same industry as your meat. But I am aware of what I eat and I inform myself about it. I try to buy bio and from my region. Of course there will be unhealthy products. At least no animals have suffered for my dinner. I’m feeling good about my choices.

“But your cosmetics aren’t all vegan! Caught you!”

Do you know how hard it is to find a vegan lipstick? I searched for one for 20 minutes! Once there are more alternatives I will turn to them. Until then I have to either quit or make an exception.

“Then you aren’t a real vegan anymore!”

“Ok that’s all cool but when will you be normal again?”

Oh, you mean like – carnivorous – normal again? For many peoples in this world it wasn’t the norm until the western world and its exploding market of dairy products and meat made them change. You know who has the highest dairy consumption? The US and the northern European countries. Do you know who has the highest rates of osteoporosis? The US and the northern European countries…

(There is a lot of calcium in dairy products. But also in vegetables like kale. If you consume milk, though, the acid in it will change the pH in your body a bit. To compensate, the body uses Calcium, Ca2+. Out of your bones. That means, if you only try to get your calcium from dairy products, chances are that you will have a lot less calcium in your bones in the end. I’m not a medical doctor or an expert so please check other sources. It’s just that we sometimes have to analyse the fairytales we have been told in our childhood.)

“People are omnivores!”

Just look at this graphic. It will explain a lot:
http://www.whale.to/c/10013268_676368449097110_1949968139_n.jpg

Vegan Struggles

1) Grocery shopping.

  • Why did they put milk in that?!? There are so many products which could be vegan. Until some idiot put milk powder in there.

  • Can’t they put a label on these products if they are vegan? Put a green sticker on it. My month-long search for the gingerbread would have been a lot easier.

  • You will spend a lot of time in the veggie section of your supermarket. You save time walking straight past the dairy case.

  • Bread. Why is there just one vegan bread in my supermarket? Without a label? I had to scan through the ingredients of 50 different brands. People were looking at me like I’m crazy. Also, why is there sugar in there?

  • Vegan products. “Can I have this whole shelf please, yes, thank you very much.” They have one huge section of bio-vegan products in my supermarket. The struggle is real. I cannot buy everything.

2) Eating in.

  • Spending a lot of time thinking about meals. Cooking them. My days are organised pretty much around food. My friend and I always have these conversations: “What will you do after uni?” “Eat.” What have you planned this evening?” “Cooking?”

  • Portion-sizes. I get a lot of weird looks when I eat three servings or more. We have to get our calories from somewhere! I love eating. If I say that I’ll get even more weird looks. In the time you have eaten your dead animal over there and are full, I’ll eat my three portions of rice. Until I’m full. Guess who continues eating after a short while?

  • We are the kings and queens of food combinations. Oh sure, I’ll have a pasta bowl with broccoli, chickpeas, peanut butter, pumpkin seeds and carrots. Some apple slices on top? No problem. Sounds weird to you? That’s only the beginning. I make a dinner out of everything.

3) Eating out.

  • That’s just a side dish, madam.” “Yes, thank you, I want to have it anyway. I am aware that you only have one salad as a vegan option. I’ll take that one, please.”

  • Is that vegan?” “Am I eating it? Am I vegan? Yes. Therefore you can assume that this is in fact vegan. You want to try? Although it is rabbit food? Go on but please leave a bit for me, thanks.”

4) Nutrition.

  • So where do you really get your nutrients from?” “Since when are you a health expert? It can’t be that bad because I’m surviving, right? Do I look healthy to you? Yes? Where’s the problem?”

5) Other Questions.

  • The Island question. “If you were to strand on a lonely island with only one chicken…” I’m not Robinson Crusoe! When will that ever happen to me? We live in a world where our food industry destroys the planet. If we continue, there will be no deserted islands left I could strand on. Who says that I am worth more than that chicken? I guess we could live together, that chicken and I. I would teach it to play chess and we would have a splendid time on that island. Eating coconuts.

Here are some of the moments of pure happiness only vegans will understand.

  • Finding out a brand of cosmetics or your favourite biscuits etc you have been using or eating all the time are in fact vegan.

  • Finding a vegan restaurant in your neighbourhood.

  • Finding out that your favourite restaurant doesn’t only have a salad as a vegan option.

  • Having a positive influence on other people’s diet choices.

  • Having other people defend your own choices.

  • Successfully veganising your favourite dishes.

  • Having other people make vegan cakes for you.

  • Being able to eat what and as much as you want.

  • Feeling energised.

  • Not feeling guilty or regretful when talking about the environment.

I love to talk about environmental issues but I also have to be aware that I emit a lot of carbon due to my lifestyle. Through going vegan my carbon footprint has decreased. It’s 2.82 ha, whereas the standard German one is 5.1 ha. For my lifestyle we would need 1.5 earths. My food choices make up only 2% of my footprint, for Germans, it’s 35%. Change is possible!

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments and I will be happy to answer them. I’m not forcing you to become a vegan. That’s your choice. I’m here to give you a little insight or information if you would like to have that. It’s crucial for our planet that we reduce our meat and dairy consumption.

Current Word Count: 12697 Edited: 9450 (374)

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