So I completed week three of veganism, and I have to say – I rather like it. In fact, I love it. My energy levels are great; I’m not sluggish in the afternoon; I feel lighter. And, no, I don’t miss protein.
I’ve always been aware of food and food products, but this veganism thing has heightened my awareness even more. The attempts of food manufacturers to make us think our food is natural and straight from the farm is almost comical. Think about it – most gallons of milk show a cow grazing in a peaceful green field….or at least the store has pictures like this on the signs leading to the dairy case. A box of Capri Sun or wax-filled fruit snacks shows succulent pieces of fresh fruit. However, most of these foods had no origin in the happy, picturesque farms we envision from “Charlotte’s Web.” In reality, we couldn’t be farther removed from blissful farm production. The milk you get from the store is not from free-roaming cows, but from cows raised in a stall who are kept lactating for months at a time. You’ll be hard pressed to find any real fruit in much of the “fruit” products – including fruit snacks, fruit juice and fruit bars.
I recently ordered a box from a local farm and got a bounty of fresh, locally-grown vegetables: leeks, spinach, kale, beets, turnips, onions, potatoes, scallions and broccoli. Of course, I know potatoes come from the ground – they are a root vegetable after all – but we forget, they also come with lots of dirt. The ones straight from the farm were actually caked with clumps of mud and had dings from where the shovel hit their skin. Compare this real food to the ones found in a store, which are suspiciously clean and unbruised. It makes me go hmmm, the same way muffins that can sit on a shelf for 6 months without refrigeration do.
I can’t guarantee everything I eat is unprocessed and raised in pristine environments, but I can be aware of when it is not. I have indulged in tofu and vegan “burgers” and soymilk, but recognize these aren’t the best options. Sometimes we have no choice. Time, convenience, life — they get in the way of eating virtuously. You don’t have to commit to vegetarianism or veganism to be aware and to make good, natural choices, however. You can opt for free range, organic eggs (preferably locally raised), organic milk (preferably from cow-friendly certified dairies) and real vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Even if you can’t commit to being vegan or vegetarian, I beg you to pay attention to the places from where the food you eat actually comes and to make the best choices you can.