For weeks my daughter has been toying with the idea of adopting a vegan lifestyle, consuming only plant-based and whole foods and NO animal products. I am not entirely sure what prompted her to consider doing something so radical, especially knowing how much our entire family loves good food. However, her interest in good health and wise dietary choices were not something I could ignore and with the increased choices of organic and vegan foods it is certainly feasible.
Before going on our recent vacation I sat down with her to watch a documentary, Food, Inc., an eye-opening film which "examines the costs of putting value and convenience over nutrition and environmental impact."[i] After watching the film I made the decision to eat more whole and organic foods, and fewer processed ones, particularly since I have always struggled with being overweight and have experienced a recent rise in my bad cholesterol. Simple enough, right?
Shortly after watching Food, Inc., we took a family vacation and traveled back home to Tennessee to visit family and friends. One of our goals was to eat some of our favorite foods which we have not been able to find since our move to another part of the country. We relished every bite of Memphis barbecue, southern-fried cornmeal-breaded catfish, and Chinese food we consumed. That I only gained five pounds in that week of indulgences was nothing short of a miracle!
Upon our return home, Joy resumed the task of educating herself, asking me to sit down with her to watch another documentary, Vegucated, the story of “three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. Lured by tales of weight lost and health regained, they begin to uncover the hidden sides of animal agriculture that make them wonder whether solutions offered in films like Food, Inc. go far enough.”[ii] Joy and I were moved to tears and so disturbed by what we saw that we both decided to immediately eliminate meat from our diets, not only because of our health but perhaps even more importantly because of animal cruelty and the negative impact of animal agriculture on our environment.
Joy and I have decided that for now we will be lacto-ovo vegetarians (consuming no meat but allowing ourselves eggs and dairy products in small amounts). We may eventually go vegan all the way. After a week of consuming no meat and trying diligently to eat whole, unprocessed foods, I feel more energetic and healthy. I have lost 4 of the 5 pounds I gained during our vacation, despite eating my fill. Because there are more good choices out there than ever before, I have not once felt deprived. I still get to enjoy my husband’s delicious homemade veggie pizza, and what’s not to love about that?
Why am I telling you all this? It’s certainly not to condemn your choice to eat meat or, on the other hand, to persuade you to adopt a strictly vegan lifestyle. But as an animal lover who has become more aware of the environment since moving to the beautiful state of Virginia, I feel compelled to do my small part to prevent animal cruelty and to help effect positive change in our environment.
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