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Days One and Two

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My apologies in advance for the lengthy post, but I did a lot of research and didn’t really feel like anything could be left out!

Day one of Vegan in 30 Days involves thinking about why you want to become vegan.  I have written a list of the four main reasons that I have chosen to change my eating habits.

  1. HEALTH
    a.  To lose weight for health and happiness.
    b.  To become a healthy adult before having kids so that I can pass on good habits to them from birth.
  2. COMPASSION FOR ANIMALS
    a.  To stop being a supporter of animal suffering simply because it’s more convenient to just continue eating animal products.
  3. ENVIRONMENT
    a.  To do my part by choosing the most green path I can to actively help the environment in my everyday life.
  4. LOVE
    a.  To be a good example and resource for those I love.

Thanks, Alli for being step 4 for me!

Day two suggests that you spend some time researching the vegan diet.  Being the over-thinker that I am, I did quite a bit of research already.  I decided to follow the book, however, and research an aspect of the vegan lifestyle that I’m not fully sure about.  That issue is honey.  Sarah Taylor’s book states that “honey comes from the nectar of flowers, and is produced by insects (bees), as opposed to animals.  Therefore, vegans differ on whether honey is a vegan product or not.”  I did a little internet research and the Vegan Society’s official definition of “vegan” is the following.

“A way of living which excludes all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, the animal kingdom, and includes a reverence for life. It applies to the practice of living on the products of the plant kingdom to the exclusion of flesh, fish, fowl, eggs, honey, animal milk and its derivatives, and encourages the use of alternatives for all commodities derived wholly or in part from animals.” (See http://www.veganmeans.com/how_veganism/Becoming_Vegan_what_is_veganism.htm)

By this definition, according to many, honey would not be considered vegan due to the exploitation of bees in the often factory-like business of making honey.  In fact, bees are even learning to defend themselves and their hives from the activities of humans.  Bees naturally line their hives with a resin that they collect from plants because of its anti-bacterial qualities.  Now, bees have started to use that resin to seal off hive cells full of pollen contaminated by chemicals such as pesticides.  This is not normal behavior, this is as a direct result of the interference of humans.  (See http://friendsofanimals.org/programs/vegetarianism/is-honey-vegan.html for more information.)

The common argument I found was that the difference between vegans and non-vegans is the element of intent.  According to Jo Stepaniak, at Vegsource.com, “vegans consciously strive to do no harm to any sentient life, including insects. This does not mean that vegans do not hurt others inadvertently, but that it is never their aim to do so.”  Her argument is that bees do not create honey nor pollinate plants for human benefit and that when we remove honey from their hives, we are stealing their food stores that are intended to be used when other food sources are not available.  There are many alternatives to honey and, according to Stepaniak, “from a vegan perspective, there is no justifiable reason for using it.”  (Read more at http://www.vegsource.com/jo/qa/qahoney.htm.)

In addition, it only makes sense that the human manipulation of bees including the removal of honey from the hive, leads to injury and often death of bees that would not otherwise have suffered.  Bees have a nervous system similar to other invertebrates, so while they may not feel pain like, say, mammals do, they do have a stress response system.  Additionally, an article posted on Scientific American describes studies that suggest bees may have feelings.  (Read more here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=do-bees-have-feelings.)

Since I am really new to the whole vegan way of life, I am going to hold out on deciding for now.  I am compelled by the argument that vegans do not participate in exploitation of or cruelty toward animals of any kind, so I think I will choose to abstain from honey consumption, but I will wait until toward the end of my 30 steps to make that decision.

Why and How

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Last month, I decided to become a vegan.  I knew that I wasn’t the type of person who could jump head first into the vegan pool; I needed to wade into the shallow end first.  If I forced myself to change too much at once, I was sure I wouldn’t succeed.  So, I decided to take it slowly and see it as a transition rather than an overnight change.

Since I am not taking any classes during the summer semester and I have the time, I will be reading about the subject as if it were one of my classes.

I have already started reading Diet for a New America by John Robbins, which is very informative as well as a page-turner.  I have found so far that education is the best form of motivation for me.  Now that I know just a handful of facts about the impact that a diet of animal products has on my health, the environment, the economy, and the lives of animals, I feel like I can’t possibly continue to be a part of the problem.

I recently purchased Vegan in 30 Days by Sarah Taylor, which I will follow more like thirty steps, some of which will take more than a day, and some that will be done a few at a time.  I am starting with incorporating vegan meals into my regular diet and making kind decisions whenever possible.  My end goal is to become fully used to a vegan diet, healthier than I have ever eaten before, without feeling like I am missing out on anything.

A couple of factors led to my exploration of the vegan lifestyle, beginning with my sister.  For several years now, my youngest sister, Allison, has been a vegan.

About A Vegan in Progress | A Vegan in Progress

Alli is the goddess on the left with the Vegan tattoo, that’s me on the right

She has always been very strong-willed, something that I don’t see in myself.  Over the years I have thought that she was definitely eating healthier than I was, but that I lacked the will and motivation to follow her example.  Last month I was thinking about how I needed to lose weight and adopt an all-over healthier diet, not something that I planned to stop once I got to my goal.  Because I knew that Alli had educated herself about nutrition, I asked her many questions about the effect of animal products on our bodies.  Lucky for me, she was in the middle of a speech class and had prepared a speech on that very subject.  Her brain was full of facts and statistics that she shared with me.

After doing online research, my compassion for animals really came into play.  The more I thought about it, the more I felt that it was just wrong to regard some animals as companions and others as food.  My husband, Eric, and I have two rescue cats, who have improved our lives equally as much as we have theirs.

They have very apparent feelings, intelligence, and personalities.  It just seems unfair to allow them happy, healthy lives, but treat other species with similar characteristics as if they are no more than products.  These elements convinced me that I had to make this change in my life.

My thinking in creating this blog is that sharing the journey with others will keep me more accountable and motivated.  My intent is not to preach or even motivate others, but simply to share what I have learned and experienced.  I will post recipes that I try, restaurants that I visit, compelling facts that I come across, and challenges that I face.

Thank you for visiting!  Most of all, thank you to my sister Alli, for being a great source of inspiration, knowledge, and support to me.