When I was 12, I proudly made an announcement to my parents that I had suddenly become a vegetarian. Naturally, as a 12 year old, extremely awkward looking, frizzy-haired child-like know-it-all, who spent all her time playing sports, over-plucking her eyebrows and reading books under the sheets past bedtime, my parents merely shrugged it off as yet another phase my incessant teenage boredom had led me to. Strict as they were, I was told I wasn’t going to get any special meals prepared to suit my sudden teenage lifestyle change.
One of the things we often aren’t prepared for, is that this choice can have a huge impact on your daily routines, but you do get an amazing amount of benefits out of it – most especially when you consider yourself an animal lover and have a strong opinion about the way animals are treated before they land on your dinner plate.
Let’s break it down simply:
Vegetarianism is practicing abstinence from consuming meat – red meat, poultry, fish, seafood. For years, before “Veganism” became a thing, all those who abstained from meat etc, and animal products such as eggs and milk, were considered Vegetarians.
What changed the game was when Vegetarians started creating sub-categories to suit their own versions of being “Vegetarians”. Pesco-vegetarians, for example abstain from eating all meat except fish. Ovo-vegetarians allow themselves to consume eggs, and lacto-vegetarians include dairy products in their diet, but not eggs. There is even such a thing as “Pollotarianism”, meaning you only consume poultry as an exception, but no red meat or fish. Confused yet?
Veganism provides a much stricter diet, as opposed to the more flexible practice of Vegetarianism. Vegans avoid all meat, poultry and seafood, and all animal by-products such as eggs, milk and even honey, and also ruling out products that have been processed using animal ingredients such as marshmallows, chocolate, cookies, ice cream, mayonnaise, yogurt etc. Vegans focus their diets mainly around grains, beans, legumes, fruits and vegetables, which results in a fresher, healthier diet, considering many of these animal-ingredients-containing foods that are suddenly taboo, also contain many controversial and harmful artificial flavorings and colorings, that are still up for debate in terms of toxicity on a long-term scale.
Thus, while Vegans have to practice an incredible amount of discipline in choosing what foods they can survive on, that offers the amount of nutrients our bodies have adapted to, the bottom line is that just by cutting out all things chemically influenced we are offered by our controversial food industry, Vegans are already one step ahead of us. They simply are avoiding many of the harmful and seemingly invisible little toxins that the rest of us animal-eaters are putting into our bodies.
Now, having said that, I myself love a good piece of medium rare steak and nothing floats my boat like a viciously calorie-rich Lasagna, but every now and so often, I enjoy a fresh rich green salad topped with pine nuts and allow myself a Vegan toasted coconut chocolate chip cookie and then I’m back to feeling like that confused little 12-year-old girl, consumed by her indecision and love for bacon, and wanting to possibly attempt yet another lifestyle-change.