What is a Vegan anyway?
The term vegan was coined in 1944 by Donald Watson when he co-founded the Vegan Society in England, at first to mean “non-dairy vegetarian” and later to refer to “the doctrine that man should live without exploiting animals.”
“I don’t eat meat.” is my simple answer. Often times it instantly throws people into a tail spin. My personality is an emotion matcher–if you get excited I match your excitement and exceed it. I call it passion–not everyone embraces the passionate Renee. I’m learning now that I do not need to defend my choice. I’m just a Mom that doesn’t eat meat. It’s not that crazy of an idea . . . to not eat meat.
How can you be vegan?
If it makes everyone feel better . . . I’m not a vegan–I’m a vegetarian that doesn’t eat eggs, butter, milk or cheese. The crazy thing is I bet I could create a vegan meal for you and you wouldn’t even know it was vegan! OR go ahead and try some of my vegan recipes. This perfectly steamed kale, tossed with a fig vinaigrette topped with crunchy roasted walnuts and luscious sweet red strawberries . . . try it! Your taste buds want to dance the tango.
The Best Vegan Definition
The definition of vegan was given to us by Donald Watson as follows:
The word “veganism”denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.
Let’s break that down
- as possible and practical–this isn’t a free pass to eat bacon, rather it makes eating a vegan diet a thoughtful process. Eating with intention! For those of you who have followed the blog for a while you know that last year my word was “intention”. Thinking about the food you let fuel your one and only body is important–this type of conscious eating is your own soulful intention. Everyone makes a decision each and every time they pick up a fork. We all need to be ok with our own decisions.
- no animal exploitation–that means no factory farms. Not going to the zoo. Not going to the circus . . . it really just depends on your personal definition of exploitation and abuse.
- no human exploitation–the men and women who work in difficult environments (the meat processing factories and the farms). It can’t be an easy job skinning a cow that isn’t dead or grinding up baby chicks.
- limit the amount of environment exploitation–factory farming contributes global warming . . . check out this 2 minute read about the environmental issues.
- a practice of going without any product that comes from an animal. What is a practice? A repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it. (this is the google definition) Choosing a no-harm diet is a daily practice. I see guys at the driving range practicing and practicing their golf swings–I’m in the kitchen practicing and practicing how to make kale taste better to me.
My Van is Not Vegan
After 10 years my old Ford Windstar just gave up! I don’t blame him–I rode him hard and put him away wet. When it came to buy a new van–I refused leather seats. I wanted cloth seats. I like cloth seats–I’ve never had anything but cloth. Ok, lets just face it–I’m not a leather girl anything, except for cowboy boots. So how can I as a vegan drive a car with leather seats? Good question. The best answer that I can give is that I don’t live in a vacuum. I’m part of a bigger group–my family–and sometimes you need to do what is PRACTICAL for your family. I also pray for the animals that died for our seats and I pray for the people who killed them. That’s just who I am. I’m totally ok with being the whacky vegan lady who prays for the animals! I also pray for the decision makers, the workers, the next generation.
Embrace the Vegan Inside of You
I typically don’t make a big deal about not eating meat–I don’t wave a flag or have wear a t-shirt with a vegan slogan. I say “no thank you” when offered animal products and only when pressed consume, I simple say “I don’t eat animals.”
In the beginning I did miss . . . bacon. I can live without all other meat but bacon . . . that is my Achilles heel. It was difficult to resist at first but now I don’t miss it. I think about the pigs and piglets not the bacon. I think about the life before it goes on my plate. Ever so gradually I embraced every step I took in my no-harm way of eating. I would eat meatloaf or bacon and think–it doesn’t matter (after all it’s just a cow or just a pig), but I knew in my heart that it did make a difference.
I would buy boneless, skinless hormone and antibiotic laden chicken breast for my husband and kids thinking . . . as long as I’m not eating it . . . it won’t matter. But it did matter. I felt horrible feeding my family factory farmed chickens. I researched a few companies and found one, Smart Chicken, that seemed like a great compromise. I’m constantly researching my options to find sources of meat for my family that are sustainable from family farms. (I discovered something amazing that I’ll share in another post!)
How are you Vegan?
Could you have a meatless meal once a week? Could you “go vegan” for a day? Renee’s Kitchen is about giving you the tools and resources to make your own best decisions. This was published on Earth Day–it is a CNN article on giving up meat for one day. John. D. Sutter is a much better writer than I am–so go and enjoy his take on being vegan for a day!
I’d love to hear your comments! How vegan are you?