After two years of strict veganism, I never thought I would never consume meat again. I was wrong.
Two things I wish I knew before going vegan:
- Make room for exceptions.
- Veganism is an economic protest against the meat and dairy industry.
1. Make room for exceptions.
I made small steps before arriving at veganism’s door. I had cut out red-meat, a year later I was pescatarian, after that vegetarian, and finally, vegan. I quickly became a perfectionist eating a vegan diet.
But I was struggling with social outings. Even with planning, sometimes I’d end up somewhere with no food options. I acknowledge my privilege to make the choice of what I eat and when. I’m grateful for my options and I’m grateful to share my experience here. To complicate things, I also have blood sugar imbalances and must eat every two hours. Choosing to eat is a much better deal than getting low blood sugar.
Needless to say, at times I felt the diet restriction was unrealistic. I applauded the idealism, but keeping up with it 100% of the time was hard.
Within this time frame I heard the term “plant-based” and “flexitarian”. A much for obtainable option. This terminology recognized diets are a spectrum and certain scenarios call for different needs.
A plant-based diet is a diet consisting mostly or entirely of foods derived from plants, including vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits, and with few or no animal products. A plant based-diet is not necessarily vegetarian.
A flexitarian diet is diet that is both flexible and vegetarian, allowing a burger if the urge hits. Registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner coined the word.
I was tired of getting discouraged and liked the idea of a more flexible diet. I love the Pareto Principle in other areas of my life, so why not apply it to my diet?
The Pareto principle states that for many events, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.Joseph M. Juran
95% of food I consume is from my groceries. And I don’t buy meat or dairy. So any other food consumption would be 5% of the time. Yes, I’ll indulge in complimentary pizza at work! When my roommates have food they’re not interested in and I must decide if it should go in the trash compactor or my stomach compactor, the latter wins. I don’t like food going to waste.
By working on my 20% of causes rather than 100% of the effects, I know I’m making a bigger difference.
We don’t need more vegans, we need more people simply cutting back on meat. That would make a significantly bigger ripple.
2. Veganism is an economic protest against the meat and dairy industry.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, “[the meat and dairy industry] contributes to land and water degradation, biodiversity loss, acid rain, coral reef degeneration and deforestation. Nowhere is this impact more apparent than climate change – livestock farming contributes 18% of human produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.”
In my opinion, livestock treatment is even more appalling than the environmental damage.
Good news, the demand is lowering and the number of people eating plant-based is multiplying quick! There’s power in numbers. As plant-based products grow in popularity, the meat and dairy industries are feeling the financial hit and listening to what the consumers want.
The industries will always supply the demand.
If you’re looking to reduce your environmental impact and support humane treatment, start with lowering meat consumption. A lot of us can help in a little way. Let the conglomerates know which side you’re on.
I’d like to know your thoughts and how your food journey is going.