Tag Archive | vegetarian

Not Vegan Anymore?

I’ve never heard of Alexandra Jamieson before today, so I don’t know how important or influential she is, but this article was drawn to my attention as somebody with vegan sympathies.

http://alexandrajamieson.com/im-not-vegan-anymore/

Let me say at the outset that I’m not actually quite vegan – I eat free-range eggs and even fish occasionally, so technically I’m not even vegetarian, you might call me flexitarian. I don’t drink milk if I can avoid it, but I have cheese rarely. I aim for vegan as much as possible.

But I have been vegetarian on and off for the last 20 or so years, and I was fully vegan for a few months last year. I even considered writing a book to convince Christians to become vegan.

I had two reasons to become reason. One was my own health, which if you’ve been reading for a while you will know is not good, and has been for over ten years. I have an as yet unspecified illness which is currently called ‘ME/cfs’. In short, my health is pretty dire. I am overweight and in constant pain. So I hoped that going fully vegetarian and then fully vegan would help.

It didn’t.

In fact quite the reverse happened. I put on even more weight and got even sicker, and my cholesterol was raised from the year before when I tried paleo.

I found that although I’m not coeliac, I can’t tolerate much wheat, so adding wheat and fake meats into my diet exasperated my IBS to the extent that my GP started to be convinced that it was in fact IBD or Crohns. My brother has Crohns so it was a real worry. But I found that as long as I scaled back the wheat and the fake meats, my bowels behave themselves for the most part.

I was actually much healthier on a paleo / primal diet. All the science that I have read on carbs and cereals convinces me that a cereal / carb-based (as opposed to plant-based) vegan diet is potentially very detrimental to health, especially if you have metabolic difficulties with carbs, as people with PCOS and other endocrine disorders do.

My second reason though was conviction that, regardless of my health, it is essentially wrong to take the life of an animal, and further, to take the produce of an animal who is kept in cruel and inhuman captivity.

I admit I don’t have the same strength of conviction when it comes to fish as I do for mammals, but I have no doubt that the methods required for mass rearing and slaughtering even of fish are quite different than those required for small scale rearing.

I have always, since I was a pre-teen, thought that it was cowardly of a person to eat an animal if that person was not willing to do the actual killing themselves. I know I wouldn’t be. Could I kill a fish? Perhaps. (I’m not sure, perhaps not. Probably not, thinking about it. If I saw a fish suffocating and struggling I would probably have to throw it back.) A cow? A pig? A chicken? Never.

Hypocrisy and cowardice are things which I abhor. So I try to limit my own. OK so it is currently limited to fish-eating. I have at least stopped eating my favourite prawn sandwiches (my non-kosher guilty secret) after discovering the slavery scandal linked to supermarket prawn supplies.

But Alexandra Jamieson’s article disturbs me. Relativism, looking for ‘your truth’ as opposed to ‘my truth’ is so convenient! It becomes possible to justify almost anything that way. But there is an objective truth here, that animals are abused on an, unthinkable, indescribable scale.

And this is the problem with health-based veganism.

If you are a vegan for health reasons, without the moral conviction, it is doubtful that you will stay vegan. Being vegan is hard. It’s awkward. It’s difficult. It can make you a social pariah, and eating in restaurants is a challenge, and it may not reap the health rewards you are seeking.

But if you look into the reality of the way animals are treated, if you spend time with animals and realise they have feelings, that they feel fear and pain, and suffer when they die and when they are held in captivity, producing milk in painfully inappropriate amounts, if you know that it is the right thing to do, you will have a much higher chance of succeeding as a vegan.

Recipe: Thrown together bean pie

lentilbeanpie

photo source: the vegetarian society

 

I would have liked to make a special meal for shabbat last night since it was also Rosh Chodesh, but it turned out it was such a busy day and I had forgotten to get the meat out of the freezer, so I treated my family to a vegetarian version of the British staple, Shepherd’s Pie (which is traditionally minced lamb topped with mashed potato, and I usually make it with chopped carrots and peas. Cottage Pie, conversely, is made with minced beef.)

Ingredients:

2 tins of green lentils

1 tin of butter beans

1 tin of spicy mixed beans

1 jar of tomato-based pasta sauce

a few chopped tomatoes

Potatoes for 6 people

optional: butter / milk / cheese

mixed herbs

Method:

1. We like our potatoes unpeeled, so we boil and mash them in their jackets. So peel if you want to, and chop roughly. Boil (approx 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces)

2. Place the lentils, beans, tomatoes and pasta sauce and mixed herbs in an oven-proof dish, heat in the oven at 180 degrees while you wait for the potatoes. (Alternatively, you can use a saucepan to heat the bean mixture to save using the oven).

3. Drain and mash the potatoes. If you like, you may add a small amount of milk or butter to make the potatoes more creamy. This makes it easier to spread over the base, but it isn’t necessary. (leaving these out makes it a low-fat, vegan recipe)

4. Take the bean dish out of the oven and place the mashed potato over the top of the bean mixture, making sure it is completely covered. If you eat cheese, you may like to top the potato with grated or thinly sliced cheese.

5. Transfer the dish to the grill on a medium heat to crisp up the top of the mashed potato and melt the cheese.

6. Serve with peas or petit pois.

Voila!

It’s one of my most favourite, quick and easy family meals, and even though my family aren’t vegetarian, I didn’t get any complaints and everyone cleaned their plate (which is unusual)!

Variations include a selection of vegetables instead of beans and lentils, vary your types of beans, mix lentils and vegetables. Have fun and experiment and see what you prefer. The lentils give quite a good ‘meaty’ texture for people who aren’t usually vegetarian.

 

Concerns over Soya as a Health Food

Last year I experimented with going vegan for about three months, for various reasons. Unfortunately I got very ill, to the extent of nearly needing to be hospitalised. Tests suggested that I was at risk of an Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and was advised by my GP to avoid wheat, dairy, all fake sugars and all fake meats especially soy-based and gluten-based meat replacements. I have found that, providing I stay within those guidelines, my gut doesn’t give me too much trouble.

This prompted me to look again at the subject of whether soya can be considered a health food or not. I present the following link as a good summary of why soy may be a health risk – not just to people like me with a tendency to sensitivity, but to everyone, especially children and young people.

http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2014/01/why-soy-is-not-a-health-food.html

Please do your own research and come to your own conclusions about whether you want to include soya in your family’s diet.