Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thoughts in Progress on being Vegan

Typical vegitarian wedding meal - Tamil Nadu
While living in India I became acustomed to a largely vegitarian diet, not strictly vegan as they used eggs and milk products. However, last year when resting at a Vegan Retreat, I enjoyed learning more about the vegan diet and the choices people make. Since then I've found interesting articles that have captured my attention. I thought it might be a good time to ponder..

The New Internationalist recently published a debate on 'is being Vegan the green option?'. I guess this got me thinking again about the choices we make and why? Would I choose to be 100% vegan for environmental reasons, health reasons, ethical reasons or would I do it as a result of a logical cost benefit analysis that took into account all those reasons?

I'm not vegan, not even vegitarian, but Im not a daily consumer of meat, dairy and other animal products - perhaps I'm hybrid? However, it is important to me to be considerate and conscious about the decisions I make.

The NI article, focusing on the green aspects of veganism, highlighted for me the importance of knowing more about the food you eat. What is 'free-range'? what does it mean to order the 'grain fed beef/lamb'? should we eat farmed salmon or Atlantic salmon? Where is the soy grown and is it organic and farmed ethically? what about those chick peas? The questions could go on. I wasn't convinced by Bruce Friedrichs argument in the NI article, and I think I lean towards Wayne Roberts point - that there's a different answer for different geographical area's, for different individuals and at different times of the year...

People choose to be vegan for many reasons, but generally its for health reasons, ethical reasons (animal rights), spiritual or environmental reasons. My current thinking is that
  • I've discovered that I do need fish & meat in my diet -fish at least 2 times and read meat at least 2-3 times a week. The most ethical position for me to take is to choose roo meat, and farmed fish. (CSIRO article and SMH article)
  • I grow an organic garden because it's good for me to know where my veggies come from and what it takes to make them happy - I am going to be healthier and happier if I know that the food I purchase is also coming from a healthy place and isn't damaging the earth. This means supporting local growers or smaller chains who can tell you where the produce comes from.
  • I like to cook most of my food from whole ingredients. What this means is that I eat healthier (no added salt and all those other things that don't matter if I'm eating it today), and the food is healthier. It also means the food hasn't damaged the earth too much and I'm not supporting processing factories, international food distribution and the packaging industry..
So, it's a journey - I still want to know more about what it costs to grow, process and use soy and what the health impacts of a soy based diet are. I'm interested also in ethical dairy production, and the health benefits or impacts of a diary based diet. I'd also like to know other people's thoughts about honey? is this an animal product and do Vegans eat honey? I'd love to hear from you.... any thoughts at all.


Karen said...

Really interesting thoughts T. My guess would be that honey would be considered an animal product but I could be wrong??

Jeanie said...

This is a fascinating post and really has good food for thought. Like you, I require more protein than veggies can offer alone, but try to buy (at least during the summer) locally and from farm vendors who have served the earth well in their growing. My own little garden is pathetic, but an earnest attempt! I will probably return to this post to ponder some more.

Tamara said...

Hi Karen, I agree that honey would be an animal product - but do you think it's a problem harvesting honey? I thought that ethical honey producers would only harvest honey that was over and obove what a hive would need. So much more to learn..
Jeanie - I would welcome ongoing discussion on this topic. Perhaps I'll post more thoughts each month??