Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Resolution

For the past few years I’ve stopped myself from making any resolutions. I don’t know whether it was my extreme youth or half heartedness when making previous resolutions that caused me to fail each year. I’m not sure if this is a purely American thing but every January it seems that every gym in the country has 10 times more commercials than usual attempting to get people who resolved to lose weight to sign a year long contract before said people go back to Krispy Kreme in February. New Year’s resolutions seemed like an empty promise people made to themselves, but this year I’m feeling differently.

This year I’m feeling motivated and think a New Year’s resolution is the kick in the pants I need to keep doing what I’ve already started. Being out of classes and not working much I’ve kind of gotten lazy about a lot of things I started this year. I did finally volunteer at a great no- cage, no-kill animal shelter by my house and do some reading for my thesis next semester but that’s about it. I’ve gained back 4 lbs sitting around the house eating latkes and watching every daytime tv show.

So I’m resolving to:

  • Get my diet back on track with lots of yummy fruits and veggies
  • Continue volunteering at least once a month at the animal shelter
  • Starting January, post to this blog at least every other Friday
  • Keep up my recycling and upcycling
  • Stop panicking about grad school applications

I’m going to keep this post short, sweet, and to the point. I will have a new post up by January 6 at the latest!

Are you going to make any resolutions for 2012?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Going Vegan

I've been putting off this post for a while but now I think its time to announce I've gone vegan! There are a lot of misconceptions as to what vegan food really is like, so throughout this post I have placed photos of vegan food from the blog veganyumyum. Just to be clear the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines veganism as:

“a strict vegetarian who consumes no animal food or dairy products; also : one who abstains from using animal products (as leather)

This diet excludes eating eggs, butter, any dairy, and obviously all dead animals, and the lifestyle means excluding all animal products including suede, wool and in products lanolin and carmine.

Its been about 3 1/2 months since I started, so I think I can discuss this subject with some mild proficiency. Before I start let me clarify that I am working on a vegan lifestyle which includes food but also clothing, products, etc. However in general, most posts will still be beauty related. All vegan products I buy are still cruelty free! This post will cover a few topics within the vegan category just to lay the ground work for some later posts. I will continue creating posts regarding animal testing!

To start with, I want to share why I made such a dramatic change. I know that people adopt a vegan diet for many reasons, most commonly: ethical, health, and environmental reasons. It will come as no surprise that I changed my diet for ethical reasons first and foremost. The more I learn about factory farming, the more disturbing and inhumane I find it. When a person eats meat there is the undeniable knowledge that an animal has suffered, but people do not associate this same suffering with dairy, eggs, honey and other animal products but it is most certainly there. This is why I decided to become vegan, not simply vegetarian or limit my intake of these products.

Jo-Anne McArthur, a Canadian photographer and animal rights activist, has an amazing but graphic photo gallery that illustrates human relationships with animals. The "Dairy and Veal Farm" gallery shows some of the reasons why I will not purchase dairy products. Due to the graphic nature of a few of the galleries, please exercise good judgment as to whether you believe you should view them or not. I definitely do not believe you need to see any graphic images to make humane changes in your lifestyle. I personally did not see these photos until very recently.

Yes, it was very hard at first! But I've only been vegan for 3 1/2 months and I feel so comfortable with it already that I don't think I will ever go back. I never considered myself a vegetarian, but I simply almost never ate meat only some fish a few times a month. Therefore, my diet consisted of a large chunk of dairy products, processed foods, and a small area of fruits, vegetables, and nuts. While I rarely ate out or ingested a lot of sugary foods, I did not have a healthy diet. Because so much of my diet consisted of dairy and I stopped “cold-turkey” I actually had withdrawal symptoms for 9-10 days. I was irritable and had headaches almost this entire time.

On the bright side, I have lost a total of 18 lbs since going vegan. It has been very easy, and I’ve even indulged in vegan french fries and sweets every now and then. Over the years I’ve given up on a lot of diets for one reason or another, and even though veganism may be the (at first) toughest one I’ve tried, it has been the most successful. Because I came to veganism for ethical reasons, to me there is so much more at stake when I chose what I want to eat. This makes it exponentially easier for me to stick to this diet and lose weight.

I know that many people become vegan simply for health reasons. I’ve watched the documentary Forks over Knives which discusses the China Study. I personally have felt less sluggish and tired after eating and in general. I haven’t notice a humongous change, but the 2 times I ended up cheating I felt so physically ill afterwards! I think different things work for different people, and a well planned vegan diet is a healthy option. I met with my general practitioner about my diet changes and discussed any supplements I should take a week after I began my new diet.

There are some obvious environmental impacts of being vegan but I’m not exactly sure how much these factors into determining your carbon footprint. Obviously cows produce methane and the number of cows produced to support factory farming weighs heavily on the environment. In addition there is all the animal waste and transportation pollution. I can’t remember where I heard this but all the grain fed to animals raised simply to be slaughtered could feed either every human on the planet or every human suffering from malnutrition three times! To me, any change no matter how little adds up and is important. Going vegan has also encouraged me to be more vigilant in my current recycling program increase my amount of “upcycling”.

I will continue my regular posts but will now be including more vegan information on products. I will also be sharing the love with some helpful cruelty free and vegan links, apps, and info I've found over the past few months.

Happy Holidays!