21 Day Vegan Kickstart

I’ve been vegetarian for somewhere in the ballpark of 13-14 years. My transition from meat-eating to vegetarian was a gradual one, so I don’t have an exact “anniversary” date. With the exception of a brief flirtation with pescetarianism a while ago, I pretty much fit the standard definition of a lacto-ovo vegetarian. I justified continuing to consume dairy and eggs by telling myself things like “well, cows need to be milked” or “chickens lay eggs anyhow” and “it isn’t like these animals are being killed for their milk or eggs.” Right. The more I learn about just how eggs and milk go from the animal’s body to the supermarket shelf, the more hollow these assurances sound.

I’ve been thinking a whole lot about animals lately. In my academic work I’m embarking on a major new research project that has me reading a lot of the ground-breaking literature on animal welfare (i.e.: Henry Salt’s 1894 Animals’ Rights). In the evenings I’ve found myself reading books like Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Enter the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and their 21 day vegan kickstart. I’ve decided to take the challenge this year. It is day 4 and so far so good — only one minor “slip up” to report. I had a handful of almonds the other day, the seasoned kind. Well, imagine my surprise when I discovered powdered sour cream on the ingredients list. *blech* As a vegetarian and someone with allergies I’m normally a pretty careful label reader, so I’m not sure how that one slipped by me. Lesson learned though!

Conceptually I don’t find the switch from vegetarianism to veganism that much of a stretch (seasoned almonds notwithstanding!) — sometimes it is just a matter of finding a vegan version of an old favourite (like this amazing recipe for cornbread!), and many of my favourite recipes are dairy and egg-free anyhow. However, the big stumbling block for me has always been cheese. I’ve been regularly buying soy milk instead of regular milk for a long time now, but for some reason I haven’t made the switch to dairy-free cheese. I’m going to give it a try this month though. My fridge is currently full of several brands of vegan cheese but I’ve yet to settle on one that I really like. Maybe it will just take some getting used to.

6 thoughts on “21 Day Vegan Kickstart

  1. Chickens do lay eggs regardless (as do we, though not externally) but I agree that farming methods today are appalling for the most part. One reason I have my own.

    But there is no way around the fact that to get milk you have to produce a calf, and something has to happen to that calf. On top of the fact that most commercial milk production now involves cows being kept indoors all the time.

    The issue I’ve been pondering is a longer historical one about the domestication of animals and biodiversity. It seems that many animals and breeds of animals only exist because they are used for food by humans. Most pig breeds for instance.

    Which is not to be taken as lack of support for your kickstart which I want to cheer because your path is one valid response to all this. Just some of the ponderings that have gone with my different path.

    I suspect we agree on the ethical problems of current commercial farming practices.

  2. It is, indeed, very complicated issue. Have you read Harriet Ritvo’s book, The Animal Estate? She has some really interesting bits about animals historically being bred for various qualities, etc. An excellent read!

  3. Keri, please let us know if you find a brand of vegan cheese you like. I’ve never found one that tasted quite right plus had a decent texture.

    Good luck!

  4. Hi Leslie,

    So far I’ve found the Sheese to be pretty good (although I’m aware of the eco-footprint of buying “cheese” from Scotland). My friend Lauren has suggested the Teese and Daiya brands, but I haven’t tried them yet.

    Do let me know how you make out with this as well.


  5. KERI BLOGS. Dylan blogrolls! YAY! Daiya is definitely the most popular and well received vegan cheese.

    JoVE, the circular logic of breeding animals for human needs then that being the justification for furthering exploitation is moot. Sanctuaries throughout the world are perfect examples of how humans can care for animals, raise them out of the status of commodities, and end “use.” It’s very true that a world which did not “use” domesticated animals would look much different, but that wouldn’t mean the end of a species.

    Also, the same system which creates veal, (dairy/cheese) also leads to the death of all male chickens born to egg laying hens. Since they are not broiler chickens, and cannot lay eggs, they are “sexed” just after being hatched and are thrown away as waste with many being suffocated in massive garbage piles, or others being incinerated. All of the seemingly innocuous by-product industry have significant suffering attached to them, although careful marketing would have you think otherwise.

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