Thursday, October 6, 2011

on eating vegan

I was not going to post today, but there have been a lot of emails flying around in our yoga teacher training group about eating vegan. Before I send my "devil's advocate" response, I wanted to put it out there to my readers.

Hmm, does that even make sense? Put it out there for the whole world to see before I send something to 20 other people? Haha. 

A little background on this - we have been asked to eat a strictly vegan diet during TT weekends. I'm not going to mount a fight to that at all. I'm actually on board. Turns out, I eat vegan way more than I thought I did. Anyway, the thread of emails began something like this:

"I freely admit that vegetarianism is within my grasp...but the little voice inside my head is screaming "please don't take away my cheese!!!!" whenever I hear the word vegan"

Then, there were a sequence of replies that said things like "cheese is an addiction" and that there is actually a chemical component in cheese that acts as an opiate when it hits your bloodstream (legit) so you can truly be addicted to cheese. They were not trying to preach veganism to anyone, just giving us something to digest and think about.

That being said, at this point, I am experiencing a lot of resistance, and I'm trying to figure out why. Please, bear with me while I arrange my thoughts...

I'm not defending a non-ahimsa (is there a better word for that? Essentially I'm trying to say "violent" or "animal unfriendly") type of diet. I eat a primarily plant based, WHOLE FOOD diet, when I can control it, aka, in my own home, when I'm ordering out. I put the stress on whole foods because I do my best to eat the food as they were grown, with as minimal processing as I can get. 
ingredients in Daiya Vegan Cheese

ingredients in Follow Your Heart Vegan Cheese

The cheese I eat is local, non-homogenized cheese from the farmer's market. Their cows are all organic, grass fed animals. Granted, I don't know much about the cheesemaking process, but I have a hard time advocating vegan cheeses (with their extensive ingredients lists) over my local farmer's market cheese. To me, it's more important to know your food source - I know the farmer/cheesemaker that raises the cows that make the cheese that I eat. I am not denying that the chemical makeup of cheese can cause it to literally be addicting, but I don't know much about the chemical makeup of ANY of the other foods that I eat. What's to say that a 100% vegan, whole food item doesn't have some kind of substance in it that also causes something akin to an addiction?

You can absolutely still do that eating a vegan diet. I actually eat vegan more often then not. I hope it doesn't seem like I'm prosthelytizing - that is totally not my intention. Also, this doesn't mean I won't ever eat vegan cheese!! If you have taken the time to make an awesome vegan tofu enchilada with Daiya for me, I am absolutely going to eat it!! It also doesn't mean that I'm not going to eat vegan during TT weekends, like I said, I eat vegan more often than I think I do. It just comes down to what your priority is: either not eating animal products with no exceptions or eating them, but in a respectful and intentional manner.

Please, please, weigh in on this.
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