Vegetarian -> Vegan :: How different is it?


#1

After reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, I decided to try being vegetarian for a year. It’s now been almost five years, and I actually have not found the change all that difficult. In some ways, it seems simpler than before.

I like the idea of going Vegan, but it seems a little daunting to me. This is probably a really trite thing to say, but cheese is a big thing for me.

I’d love to hear from others who have made this shift and either succeeded or failed.


#2

First, I just want to preface my reply with: I would never tell anyone else what they should or should not do. I believe in sharing my own experiences and letting others make their own decisions. This is why my response is more about me and not anyone else. With that said…

I used to love cheese. It is one of the things I miss the most. Especially when I see pizza. However, something I don’t miss are the 30+ pounds of fat I lost very quickly when I became Vegan. I don’t miss high cholesterol. I don’t miss worrying if I was going to die prematurely from eating a diet I considered to be unhealthy. I don’t miss contributing to the inhumane treatment of animals for my own pleasure. So for me it was my motivations for becoming vegan that outweigh my desire to eat cheese.

Is cheese good for me or bad for me? I have read articles on both sides of the debate. Some will say that cheese is a good source of calcium, a key nutrient for healthy teeth and bones, wound healing, blood clotting, and maintaining normal blood pressure. However, other good sources of calcium include leafy greens, legumes, dried fruit, tofu and various other plant based foods. I personally do not see any reason consumer dairy just because it has nutrients that are good for me, especially if those nutrients are from fortification or are not naturally occurring. I would prefer to get those same nutrients from a plant based diet.

The good news for me is that I don’t have allergies to nuts. So for me there are several vegan cheese alternatives available in stores or at restaurants. Cashew cheese is very popular and excellent on nachos :slight_smile:

I’ll close with this:

“Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.”


#3

Thanks for the thoughtful reply. Your reasons for going Vegan sound a lot like the reasons I went vegetarian. For me, the reasons were 1. Environmental, 2. Humane animal treatment, and 3. Health (in that order). I think going the extra step to Vegan would further all three of those things.

There is also another intangible thing that appeals about it, which is harder to explain–the challenge of it. It would be a thing to achieve.

I feel sort of the same way about quitting drinking. Drinking has never been a problem for me, although (or perhaps because) there is a history of alcoholism in my family. I actually drink very little alcohol these days. But there is some appeal in the absolutism of just giving it up completely. I guess it’s hard to explain, but I like the idea of checking that box for some reason.


#4

I love your reasons and I applaud your commitment to helping make this planet a better place for this and future generations.

I personally went 100% vegan right away. I wanted to see how healthy I could become and I felt half-measures would leave me wondering if there was more I could do. I told myself I could eventually add things back to my life later if I wanted an that made it easier.

With regard to drinking I don’t love the taste of beer or hard alcohol enough to enjoy casual drinking. If I am going to drink it is to get a buzz and for me that generally leads to more drinks and eventually poor decisions. I like waking up without a hangover and remembering everything I did and said the night before. For me it makes for a more productive day and less stressful life.

With regard to absolutism, I can relate. There is something empowering about it. To be totally honest, there was a brief period when I felt more disciplined and better than others. I wore it like a badge of honor. I was proud of my abstinence from alcohol, meat, dairy, eggs, and other things I had given up. Now I realize I gave up nothing and instead gained improved health and better, more meaningful relationships. Strangely it has turned out to be a humbling experience.