Croissants dipped in latés.
Bagels with cream cheese and lox.
Challah French toast.
Scrambled, fried, boiled, poached and omelette’d eggs.
A crucial part of my identity is my love and passion for food. I gain immense pleasure from tasting delicious food. I adore stuffing myself, probably more than I should.
Veganism, first and foremost, is a far-reaching constraint on the food available for consumption. It eliminates a huge swath of standard dishes across most cultures. It drastically limits possible food combinations. It is a pain for cooking, eating out, and eating in general.
All that said, last Sunday, September 4th, 2016, I ceremoniously ate my last non-vegan meal: cheese pizza with vegetables and cheese.
Questions you are surely asking yourself:
Why is this dude going vegan? Also, why is he blogging about it???
It’s worth mentioning that I am not going from carnivore to vegan. I became a vegetarian at the age of 11, and since age 16 I have been a pescetarian (vegetarian who eats fish). For the past year I have attempted to limit my animal-related consumption to free range eggs, organic/grass-fed milk, and ocean-wise seafood whenever possible, though have been far from perfect. I see veganism as just the next step!
I am blogging about my veganism experiment for a few reasons. First, I enjoy blogging about it. Second, I want to deconstruct many misconceptions about veganism, primarily that it is impossibly inconvenient, alarming unhealthy, and overall just unpleasant. More than anything, I want to raise awareness about environmental issues surrounding food and encourage my readers to eat more consciously.
That finally brings me to the actual reasons why I am going vegan. There are two and a half…
I am going vegan primary for environmental reasons, as you may have guessed. Compared to plant-based foods, animal products pollute enormously and require much more water. According to a study in the UK, the dietary greenhouse gas emissions of vegans are nearly half those of meat-eaters! The greenhouse gas emissions doesn’t just include meat. The production of animal derivatives such as as cheese, milk, etc. also pollute! Vegetarians produce about 35% more emissions than vegans.
Second, I find the treatment of factory farmed animals to be immoral.
The last reason only counts as a half reason because it is less of a reason to go vegan, more of a reason to vegetarian. That reason is health! I believe animal products, especially red meat, are more harmful than helpful health-wise, especially given the wide availability of other nutrient-rich foods and supplements.
I plan to address each of these three reasons at greater length in a future post. The environmental, ethical, and health issues surrounding food consumption all deserve attention and critical thought!
I imagine that many of readers already know the reason to go vegan. Many of you already eat consciously by going lacto-vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian, ovo-lacto vegetarian, pescetarian, pollotarian, and/or flexitarian!! (This website explains what all of those mean). A smaller proportion of my readers are vegan, including my younger sister Claire who is my main inspiration for doing this. Also shout out to Keila Stark who decided to go vegan because I told her I was going vegan. Good on you all!
I do not look down upon people who do not make restrictions on their diet because I understand how delicious food tastes and how strong societal and cultural norms are. But I encourage everyone to think hard about their diets and make an effort to eat more consciously. This does not involve giving up meat, cheese, fish, eggs, or anything altogether. Veganism is an extreme position. If average citizens in rich countries reduced their consumption of meat from 3 meals a day to 2 meals a day, or 7 days a week to 6 days a week, it would make a difference.
I myself may not succeed in pure veganism. Maybe I’ll only manage to cook vegan, but become a vegetarian while out. Or have rare exceptions to veganism in the interest of taste and convenience. Perhaps I can invent a new cool label. Or maybe I’ll fail completely!
I imagine my vegan experiment will be full of challenges and (hopefully) humour. This ongoing blog will follow all transpirations closely. I’ll throw in recipes, tips, and more food for thought!
-George Radner, Common Energy External Team.
Scarborough, P., Appleby, P.N., Mizdrak, A. et al. Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK. Climatic Change (2014) 125: 179. doi:10.1007/s10584-014-1169-1