So, I know many of you will be disappointed to learn that I've decided going vegan is not for me. I love my cheese just a little too much. Now, that said there are plenty of things to consider adopting from the vegan lifestyle. Here are three common practices of eating vegan, that I can get behind.
1) Less Meat. I know that is seems obvious, but though I'm not completely reducing my intake of meat to nil, there is something to be said for the fact that our bodies do much better without being on a meat-based diet. (Not to mention that our being a meat-obsessed society is much of the reason our farming industry suffers from vast over production and non-sustainable practices.) One does not need to cut meat out altogether, but reducing the amount of meat you eat can make an impact not only on your body's health but also on the health of your budget. With all the extra cash you will save by switching to a lot more plant-based proteins, you can invest that into sustainably raised meats that you can purchase from local farms and butchers. Or, just treat yourself with a night out once in a while at a responsibly sourced restaurant. Either way you look at it... eat more green = keeping more green.
2) Less Dairy. Okay, so I know I mentioned that the reason I have decided not to go completely vegan is because I can't seem to give up my cheese. However, in the process of attempting veganism (a process that lasted an embarrassingly short time I will admit), I did realize that my body doesn't like it when I over administer lactose into my diet. I have known for sometime that I can't over do it on dairy if I want to keep my body happy, but I was amazed to find out that I am easily able to substitute several things that used to be daily dairy staples for me, and I don't miss them. The occasional sour cream, milk, cheese are just fine, but again I am speaking of products where the cows, sheep, or goats are raised humanely and sustainably... and no I don't mean they have to be grass-fed or even organic (more on this another time).
3) Education. Sure, there are plenty of vegans out there that have just "drank the kool-aid" so to speak. But, by and large vegans have to educate themselves about brands, ingredients, and sources of their food in a way that most of the grocery shopping world is happy to remain sublimely ignorant about. There is a thought process that changes whenever you make a conscious effort to avoid a certain kind of food, I can attest to this because of my gluten-intolerance. However, the thought process of buying food needs to be one that challenges all of us on a daily basis. The way we eat in our American culture is one characterized by gluttony and irresponsibility. Educating ourselves about our food is the key to changing this mentality to become a culture that is more aware and conscientious in our decision-making.
So, I'm not a vegan, but I do support those who have educated themselves and feel it is their best option for living a principled life. I myself, don't feel the need to do away with all the animal based foods in my life, but I have appreciated this exercise to help me think of the small ways I need to continue to transform my daily eating habits.