Updated: Jul 9, 2021
Almost 3 years ago, in my mid-30's, I finally (and truly) revisited a question I have been asking myself: Why do we, as humans, consume so many animal products?
No really? Why?
Concentrated animal feed operations, dairy farms, and food manufacturing in the U.S. (like all businesses) are meeting the demand for our increased consumption of animals and animal derivatives. In parallel, the conversation has been evolving (quickly) over the last 5 years around use of hormones in animals, climate impacts of large animal operations, and overall human health concerns from consumption of animals which may have bioaccumulated pollutants (i.e. - over time, a chemical or material has aggregated in the organism). Each new study seems to point to an underlying concern - humans are over consuming animals to our detriment and to the detriment of the planet.
My background and professional career is in environmental science and sustainability and so climate impact and emerging pollution concerns have been a part of my technical knowledge, and theology, for a large part of my adult life. It was not a stretch, therefore, that I embarked on a deep dive into truly understanding my personal sustainability impact from the consumption of animals and animal by-products. The answer: I was a part of the problem. I could recycle, reduce my use of plastics, reduce my consumption of energy, and promote knowledge about climate change or how pollution impacts human health and the environment. However, if I didn't consider the way I eat and what I eat as a part of my overall impact, I was vastly overestimating my advocacy of sustainability.
So, I decided to reduce my consumption of animal and animal products. The vegan and plant-based diets were intriguing and exciting to think about. BUT, and this is what seems to make it difficult for many to make the leap and fully embrace plant-based or vegan diets, how could I possibly eat without any animal products (no meat, no dairy, no gelatin, no honey)? THEY.ARE.IN.EVERY.THING! How would I even eat in my own home with my kids and husband who had no idea I was considering this huge of a lifestyle change (at least for myself).
As with all things, I threw myself into it! I made a decision and gave myself grace. I tried new products (some good, some meh and some, honestly very very bad), and I found a whole new way to cook, bake and live with another form of sustainability. Luckily, my partner will try / eat anything!!!
Turns out, despite my doubts, I have found a lot of support in my family and friends and I have influenced how they think of and view a vegan diet. Even in the short 3 years I have been vegan, vegan options at various outlets and their products are increasingly more approachable, accessible and mainstream. It continues to be exciting to try new textures, flavors and global cuisine through the vegan recipes I found in fellow blogs or vegan cookbooks.
This collection of thoughts, recipes and personal opinion / experiences (I hope!) can give you courage to break away from the mainstream thoughts about being a vegan (which can be very negative) and really just get the conversation continuing for how fulfilling a vegan life can make you feel vibrant as a person.
Welcome to the beginnings of "Vibrant and Veganfull" - let's challenge the narrative and forge our own way forward as a society embracing sustainability in a culture of consumption.
With Love & Hope for a better future for me, my kids, and you & yours - Jamie