Tag Archives: vegan journey

Serially Lost

Writing Prompt: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.
Twist: Write it in three parts.

I used to eat animals. Now, I don’t. I lost something, but it wasn’t what I expected.

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Day 30 – 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Live Vegan

Being a Joyful Vegan in a Non-vegan World

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2feIt’s up to each one of us to reflect our deepest values in our daily choices and in doing so create the healthful, compassionate world we all imagine. If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

Day 30 is the end of the book and the end of the challenge. The key message is to keep going. But how do you stay the course in a non-vegan world?

Personally, I am not worried about staying the course. I cannot now imagine myself not living vegan. As it is, I have 46 years of unintentional indifference and conditioned ignorance to make up for.

Sometimes I still find myself suspended in this strange in-between space where older thought patterns compete with new ones; moments when I hold two equally coherent but contradictory thoughts or impressions at once.

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Day 29 – 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Keep it in Perspective

Keeping it in Perspective: Intention, Not Perfection

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2feThere is no such thing as a certified vegan.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

Day 29 and Colleen restates a concept I appreciate a lot about her approach. Being vegan is about intention and wherever practical and possible acting on that intention.

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30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 28 – Check Your Closet

Compassionate Fashion: It’s Cool to be Kind

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2feDenial is vast and deep, and it tends to manifest itself in the excuses we tell ourselves to justify our behaviour – not only to feel better about what we’re doing but also to feel good about it. When it comes to leather we often declare that it is just a by product of the meat industry, and say we feel good knowing they’re at least doing something with the leftover parts of the animals instead of having them go to waste. As much as we like to believe the leather industry is motivated by waste-conscious altruism, it is not the case. The U.S, leather industry is a $1.5 billion business tanning over 100 million animal skins every year; worldwide its even bigger, representing $46 billion, ranking amongst the most importantly traded commodities.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

Day 28 moves out of the kitchen and into other areas of the house, in particular the wardrobes and furnishings. It is unnerving to think about how much of the fabric we use is skin. This is still an issue for me. The shoes I wear every day and my handbag are leather, as is my wallet. The dog and cats have a sheepskin to sleep on.  Though fortunately one of the cats threw up on that, and now it is outside getting weathered, which means I should be able to throw it away soon when the cats are finished with it.

For the moment, my policy is to keep everything I use, and when I need to replace it, do so with synthetic or plant-based fibres. The problem is that I tend to keep things, including clothes, for years and wear them out.

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30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 24 – Eat Well With Others

Eating Confidently and Joyfully in Social Situations

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2feI often say that the food is the easy part of the lifestyle change – you learn some new recipes, you re-stock your kitchen, you read labels as though it was second nature. Then you’re in a social situation and you’re asked to defend your new way of eating. … When you state ‘I am vegan’ you aren’t simply saying ‘I eat vegetables’. … I call this phenomenon “being the vegan in the room”, which I think is a powerful and privileged position to be in.

Colleen Patrick Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

‘Being the vegan in the room’ can be an interesting position to find yourself in. It isn’t the practical, logistical side of things which challenge me, but the emotional and social aspects.

For the most part, I deal with the social aspects by not talking about it and not being very social. I tend to enjoy my own company or hanging out at home anyway, but when I do socialise it can become an issue for me because cooking for and eating with people used to be one of the single most enjoyable ways to spend time. It made me happy, and now it doesn’t.

Even as vegetarian, it was still fine because I believed the whole ‘free range’ myth and I just didn’t think about it very deeply.  Now, I am more fully aware of what it means when I sit at a table with animal products; it turns my stomach. I look at those plates and I don’t see food. I no longer feel myself relaxing, happy and fully connected to this enjoyable social moment around food and people.

It is not just the food itself, it is also the conversation. When people eat they talk about food, how great it tastes, reminiscing about other meals. I can no longer engage with those conversations with any honest enjoyment. I stay silent and let everyone else have their fun.

Occasionally, it will come up that I am now vegan. For others, vegan is a health fad diet or an exotic, personal lifestyle choice, so they assume its a suitable dinner table topic of conversation. Yet, I know they don’t want me to tell them where the dead body they are slicing into came from, or the real story behind the cheese they are eating.

Of course, there are always the few clowns who pretend the broccoli is screaming, or the time someone moved the dead chicken body around, “Save me Debbie. Save me.”   In my minds eye, I see that chicken in the moment of her death, when the blade or the knife slices her throat, and all that her life was leading up to that moment; now her dead body is sitting on my lunch table, an object for eating, her life and death a joke I can no longer even pretend to find amusing.

But it’s hard to let it go. I have lost something I used to love. Yet, at the same time I wouldn’t swap this new awareness for anything. What I do with it going forward I am still not sure, but I do know this – vegan is the only ethical and moral option possible. Once I understand that other non-human animals value their own lives in the same way I value mine, they are sentient beings not objects for me to use. How that works out practically in the world is a quandary, but for the things I have control over, I am morally obligated to exercise that control. The very least I can do is not eat them.

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 19 – Absorb Iron

Strong Like Popeye: Increase Your Iron Absorption 

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2feStudies show little difference in the incidence of iron deficiency between vegans and non-vegetarians in developed countries. In fact, the amount of iron in vegan diets tends to be higher than or at least equal to, that in non-vegetarian diets. Why? Because almost everything that crosses a vegan’s lips contains iron: beans, nuts, seeds, grains, vegetables and fruit.

There are two different types of iron in food: heme iron and nonheme iron, Heme iron is found in animal products; nonheme iron is found in both plants foods and animal products. After being absorbed and reaching our cells for building hemoglobin and other purposes, our body doesn’t care whether the iron was originally heme or nonheme. So, when people assert that our bodies need heme iron from meat. It’s simply not true. The body needs to absorb iron, but it ultimately doesn’t matter where it originated.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

A cup of cooked lentils has 30 grams of iron.
A cup of cooked lentils has 30 grams of iron.

It is not even the amount of iron we ingest, but our ability to absorb and use it. The key to the bioavailability of iron is Vitamin C, so eat food rich in Vitamin C at the same time as foods rich in iron. An adult menstruating woman like myself requires 18 milligrams of iron per day. Plenty of plant foods are high in iron.

Iron Deficiency Led Me to Veganism

My doctor rang me the night of my blood test. “Let me put it this way,” she explained, “your haemoglobin is a few points away from you in a coma, I don’t know how you are still standing.”  I didn’t really know either. I was beyond exhausted and barely functioning. It was all I could do to get through a day at work. For more than six weeks straight I had been bleeding heavily and constantly. People were worriedly inquiring about my health.  Apparently, I looked grey.  In the past week, I had started to  feel disassociated from my body; like I was moving through a thick fog. Sometimes I could feel the pulse in my neck racing so fast, I started worrying I might be due for a heart attack.  Yet, it took my boss kicking me out the door one afternoon and ordering me to the doctor’s office to finally take action.

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30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 5 – Get to Know What’s Really in Your Food

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Reading Labels

“Being vegan is about doing the best we can in an imperfect world. It’s not about being perfect or pure. If we lose sight of that, if we treat veganism as the ends rather than the means, then we’ll not only drive ourselves crazy, we’ll also forget what being vegan is all about. There are some things we have no control over, and I think it makes more sense to focus on what we can do rather than what we can’t.

And there’s so much we can do.”

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

wine-186018_1280It’s downright depressing how much animal death is in the food we eat. Dairy, meat, fish and eggs are the main and most obvious ones, but all the things you would never expect! Who knew they use dried fish bladders to clarify beer and wine?

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30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 2 – Embrace the Adventure

Trying New Foods

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“Think about the process of going from eating Italian cuisine your whole life to learning how to prepare Indian cuisine. You’re intuitively aware that you need to learn some new techniques.and explore some new ingredients, but you don’t judge Indian cuisine as being inferior to Italian cuisine. You just recognise that it’s different and unfamiliar to you.

When you become vegan – when you stop long enough to recognise your ingrained habits – you become aware of the fact that you have more food choices than ever before. It’s not that those choices weren’t available to you when you were eating meat, dairy and eggs; it’s just that you weren’t looking outside your comfort zone.”

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

Colleen has a great process for getting started. Start with what is familiar.

If you always eat in the Italian tradition and then decide ...
If you always eat in the Italian tradition and then decide …
... to learn an Indian tradition you would need to learn new techniques and explore new ingredients.
… to learn an Indian tradition you would need to learn new techniques and explore new ingredients.

Continue reading 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 2 – Embrace the Adventure

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 1

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2feVegan is Not a Separate Food Group

“Recognise that “vegan food” is “normal food” you’re already familiar with: fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, lentils, mushrooms, grains, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices.”

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

Finally! I am now starting into the challenge proper. I didn’t expect it to take me a month to get through the set up. Anyway, now I get to stop reflecting on my ‘journey’ so far, and to start learning the practical basics of how to stay vegan.

The lesson for day one is that even before you start, you are already part, or for some, most of the way there.  When I first started going vegan, over seven months ago now, removing animal products left holes in my habitual food repertoire, but it still left lots of things in place.

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30 Day Vegan Challenge – Chapter 7

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2feChapter 7 – Find a Buddy

“I hear from so many people whose otherwise loving and supportive family members become irate at the idea that their spouse, sibling or child has become vegan. Because they have not experienced the same desire to eschew animal products, they don’t understand why their loved one has, and they may feel threatened by any change in their normal routine. Even if you’ve said nothing to make them feel this way, they might feel judged or guilty for wanting to continue to eat meat dairy and eggs.”

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

In Chapter 7, the last before the challenge starts, Colleen recommends finding a ‘buddy’. Basically, it is more fun and easier to stay motived and make the changes when you have a friend to do it with.  More importantly, she also highlights the fact that not everyone is going to be supportive and some may even turn downright hostile.

The beginning was when I felt the most uncertain and ‘wobbly’ and could have used the most support. Unfortunately, it was also when I experienced the strongest pushback; and it felt stronger than it probably was because I still didn’t know enough about what I was doing. I couldn’t articulate the reasons clearly, even to myself. This was when I was most likely to second guess myself due to the ill-informed commentary of others.

Continue reading 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Chapter 7