Wednesday, November 4, 2009

DAY 3: Let's Go Vegan

After yesterday, I thought that just being vegetarian was almost too easy, so today I decided to try to eat a vegan diet. Breakfast started out well with a bagel and almond butter, but everything went downhill shortly after. Without thinking, I added a splash of milk to my morning coffee. Oops. Although it was from “cows not treated with rBGH,” milk definitely is out for the vegan diet. I guess if I had planned ahead I could have gotten soymilk.

I went out for lunch, which normally would have made eating vegan really hard. However, I kind of cheated and went to Revolutionary Soup, where they actually label everything as vegan or vegetarian, and they have a list of all the products sourced locally and what dishes they are in. That list on the wall is entitled "We Go Local!" and then each piece of paper is a different local food provider.

All of this was really cool, but definitely not typical. I tasted the vegan vegetable curry, but determined it was a bit too spicy for me to order a whole bowl. It was definitely delicious though. I ended up with a vegetarian meal of tomato soup, a corn muffin (probably containing milk or eggs I would assume?), and, everyone’s favorite, organic Honest Tea. This meal was very filling, but again, I think most Americans would have been unsatisfied by the lack of some thick, juicy meat floating in the soup.

Eating a vegan dinner also turned out easier than expected. We ordered Indian food from Milan for our IRC Council meeting. This restaurant also clearly labels on their menu what is vegan and vegetarian, so it was really easy to pick out a vegan item. Basically, you can’t go wrong with Indian – the food was amazing. I don’t know whether naan has milk or eggs in it though? I think the mango lassie definitely involved some sort of milk product.

Basically, I could have eaten vegan today with no problem at all. It seems that the option to be vegan is doable in Charlottesville because of the variety of restaurants available. However, I doubt this would be so easy in, say, Franklin County, Virginia. I think it also becomes easier when you make your own food. Someone who doesn’t have time to cook at home would quickly tire of eating at Rev Soup for lunch everyday, and even in Charlottesville I don’t know what variety of vegan options are available, for example, if you worked on the downtown mall. Christian’s would be out (cheese on all the pizza). You could do Tea Bazaar but that’s pretty expensive. I would assume many places offer salads, but they likely involve cheese or even meat, which you would have to request to be held off.

As far as sustainability, I think the greater sustainability of being vegan (vs. vegetarian) hinges on the fact that the milk products and eggs the vegetarian is eating are raised industrially. I don’t feel like raising a chicken and then taking its eggs harms the earth any more than growing a green pepper and then picking it off the plant (assuming these are both on traditional, small-scale, organic farms). I feel like mainly the reason people become vegan is not for environmental reasons, but for moral reasons regarding animal rights. I could be wrong though.

-Elizabeth, the vegetarian dieter

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