Completely Vegan….Soon?

Oh the debacle.  I have been going around and around this for many many months: Should to become a full on vegan?

I am already basically there because of many reasons which I feel I have never explained, and I think by the end of writing about all of them…may convince me to essentially become a full vegan!  Hah…oh the irony.  Anyhow, there are several overall reasons why I decided to go vegetarian almost 9 years ago, and vegan now.  Let me explain!

1. The Environment

(Wild horses near my apartment)

– You all know how important the environment is to me.  I live to preserve what is left of every unique wild area and to restore the areas that are in dire need of help and rescue.  I have read so many articles about how 70% of the original Amazon Rainforest has been deforested and is now geared towards agriculture and growing livestock for human consumption.  There are also studies that talk about the amount of pollution occurring from livestock fecal runoff creating dead zones and irreversible topsoil erosion, that 8% of the global freshwater sources are used on livestock, and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions aiding in climate change.  My heart hurts just thinking about all of deforestation occurring, the loss of so many endangered or threatened species, and the suffocation of our coral reefs on every coast.

2. Health

(What I got this week in my local and organic produce box)

(Good ol’ Farmer’s Market)

-To me, not eating meat is only one part of the equation of being vegan.  Some may say that I’ve taken it to the next level or too extreme, etc. but I believe that going local and organic is also a big part of being vegan.  By limiting the amount of miles that your food has to travel and what is used to grow it is important to really making an impact with this way of life.  I believe that without the use of herbicides and pesticides on our food we are decreasing our likelihood of getting cancer, diabetes or a plethora of other diseases.  Not only that, but you limit the amount of pollution and rises in levels of nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen that suffocate various plants and fish.  Plus, you can also get to help out the people in your community and learn more about your food from them first hand!

3. Animal Cruelty

(On a ranch I used to work at)

This is another huge factor for me. I’ve read the books and articles, watched videos by various organizations like PETA and documentaries like The Cove, and seen and smelled the dairy and meat farms first hand from the highway.  The conditions in which these animals are housed in, the torture they go through and how their lives are ended to become something on your plate just isn’t something I could ever stomach (no pun intended, hah).  I don’t think that anything with a working nervous system should have to live a life in a hell like that, it just isn’t humane when you could simply just, not eat them.

~~

So, my problem right now that is keeping me from becoming a full on vegan is one thing: Eggs.  Most people have a problem with giving up cheese, but since I have never been a big cheese person, it wasn’t hard for me eliminate.  But eggs…  When I do eat them, I try to eat the best eggs I can find, which are cage free and organically fed but still, sometimes I think that well…that could have been a chicken.  Sometimes I get cravings for eggs and I guess that I have found that when I am sick with my GI issues (that are still being investigated, news to come) eggs are the only thing that sits well and keeps me from feeling too weak and even more sick.

So this is where my problem lies, I don’t know if I want to give up eggs.  I feel like a hypocrite sometimes when I talk about eating them even though I try and buy the ones that are better than the regular ones you buy at the grocery store…Sigh.  I know I can compensate for it’s nutrients with other delicious foods like the ones I’ve eaten below over the weekend…

(Tofu Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce)

(PB, Apple Butter and Banana Toast)

(Veggies, grainless crackers and lots of hummus)

(Black beans with veggies on a tossed salad)

So, eggs? No eggs?

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35 Responses to Completely Vegan….Soon?

  1. Maggie says:

    For what it’s worth, many small-scale chicken raisers (backyard flocks and such) don’t have roosters and none of the eggs that are laid are fertile or have even had a chance to become fertile. Unlike other female birds who tend to only lay eggs when a male is present to fertilize the female before laying, chickens have been bred over the centuries to lay eggs regardless of whether or not a rooster is around to fertilize them. So really, your eggs are quite likely to be sterile.

    I admire your decisions about your diet, especially your focus on sourcing foods locally. I’ve made some similar decisions, especially where my meat intake is concerned. It’s either meat that I’ve bought from a farmer friend whose animals (longhorns, pigs and chickens) have had a happy, free life roaming the yard or the pasture, or vegetables and wheat that I buy from other local farms. Added bonus is that it all tastes so much better. :)

    • Melissa says:

      You know, I heard that about chickens, that most of the time they are sterile. I think it’s a good point and actually, I’m taking a big sigh of relief! haha. I think it’s super important to support local farmers and like you said, the food just tastes better! I mean, and apple from two miles away from my house is way better than any one I’ll get from New Zealand, or Washington!

  2. Amanda says:

    I say try a week or so without ‘em and see how you’re feeling. If they are good for settling your stomach, you might want to go back to eating them. It’s all about what makes your body feel good!

    • Melissa says:

      Thanks Amanda. It’s usually when I have a flare up that I resort to eggs as the base of a meal, otherwise I’m usually good with beans, tofu and tempeh. I guess when I think about it sometimes I go for a while without eggs and then have them a few times and not again for a while…just depends I guess.

  3. Sarah says:

    This is difficult to comment on because it’s such a personal decision. I think trying it out and seeing how you feel is a great idea. But also, as someone with an ED past who is vegan, I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t say to be very gentle with yourself. When I went vegan, I never intended to become an intense label-reader. I just wanted to avoid eggs and dairy, but I didn’t realise how much it would increase my focus on labels and the content of foods. As my journey into veganism went deeper and deeper, I started to feel very overwhelmed. There were so many things to think about! Are those olives vegan (i.e. is the lactic acid sourced from a vegetable source)? Is that local, fresh bread vegan (including if it has seeds on it – did they use an egg wash)? The list just kept getting longer. And then…I binged. A lot. I won’t get too deeply into it because I don’t want to discourage you, but I will say this, now that I am over the binging: be gentle with yourself. The intense label-reading (even if you don’t eat packaged foods….you will be questioning sellers at the farmers markets, servers at restaurants, etc.) leads to an intense focus on food. So the reason I say ‘be gentle’ is that you need to see how you mentally react to the decision. Do you find this exacerbates your ED tendencies? Do you find freedom in being free of animal foods and eating compassionately? Does the latter outweigh the former?

    A lot of people would just say to be more ‘loose’ or ‘flexible’ in your approach to vegan eating, and not worry about a little animal products here or there. While I appreciate that and see the validity, I feel very strongly that the vegan label should remain true to form and not be used as loosely as it is by many people. maybe it’s that sort of thinking that made the switch mentally difficult for me, but I guess I am just saying that another thing to consider is whether or not using the label of ‘vegan’ is important to you, and how flexible you personally view that label to be.

    Sorry if this is a bit all over the place – I am at work on my lunch break!

    • Melissa says:

      No worries Sarah, I appreciate everything you have brought up. I definitely agree that becoming completely vegan could push me towards old ED tendencies but when I think about why I would want to be vegan, it’s more out of compassion. I must admit, when I was in college being a vegetarian was a huge excuse for me to play out my disorder but as I’ve grown out of it it is no longer that way. I agree too on the flexible part as I think it might make life a bit easier with that type of lifestyle, but that if you’re going to live that way, you really should do everything that is required.

      Thanks for the comment!

  4. Kim says:

    I’ve been vegetarian for 20 of my 32 years. I have been vegan on and off for several of those years, but now I am MUCH more interested in whole, local, organic, unprocessed foods. Eggs are a wonderful source of so many nutrients. If you get them from a local farm that you know treats their animals compassionately, I cannot see a reason why you (or I) shouldn’t eat them. As someone else said, they are not fertile eggs.

    I have a hard time believing that we can’t have a symbiotic relationship with animals. If treated compassionately and taken care of, why can’t we eat a chicken’s eggs? The chickens aren’t harmed in the process. Eggs are a traditional, whole food source and they’re eaten by most cultures around the world.

    I don’t mean to go on a tangent here. I’m just tired of being told by vegans that a super-processed egg substitute or a super-processed cheese substitute are healthier and more enviornmentally responsible than a farm-raised, organic egg or some similarly-raised butter or ghee.

    That’s my opinion!

    • Melissa says:

      I definitely think you have a point. My biggest reason for choosing this lifestyle is about compassion for animals and I guess that as long as I’m not eating the animal for it’s flesh and losing it’s life for me, it’s all good. I too am definitely very focused on eating as local and organic as I can and think that those concepts are just as important as having a compassionate bond with animals! Thanks for your opinion!

  5. Amy Lauren says:

    I’m a vegetarian, although not a strict one (I do eat the occasional seafood), but I don’t think you should have to give up eggs if you don’t want to to fit into the label of “vegan”. Your diet is your diet, and it doesn’t have to have a name. If you want to eat a food, eat it. Don’t deprive yourself. Personally, I wouldn’t change what I wanted to eat to fit into the mold of being a vegetarian or vegan- if I wanted a piece of chicken today at lunch, heck, I’d go get one, but I don’t (I honestly don’t think I’ll ever “crave” or “want” meat).

    Would eating it somehow make me no longer a vegetarian and negate years of vegetarianism because of one piece of meat? Maybe to some people, but there’s still the question of all the meat I didn’t eat for years, and all that you are doing with your diet and for the environment, that eating eggs occasionally really isn’t a bad thing.

    • Melissa says:

      Thanks for your comment Amy! I definitely don’t want to deprive myself so I’ll probably continue to eat eggs as local and organic as I can to help adapt to my new diet way of life, ya know?

  6. Be a vegan that eats eggs! NO need to label yourself – that’s when you start to feel guilty about eating something. Just eat what you want. Even if you still eat eggs, you’re still helping all those causes in other ways!

    • Melissa says:

      Haha, a vegan that eats eggs…so ovo-vegetarian? LOL. I definitely don’t want to feel guilty for eating something, esp something I like, and you’re right, I am doing so many other things to help out the environment and animals that i hadn’t considered that way! Thanks!

  7. ali says:

    listen to your body. it sounds like it needs eggs. i also agree with amy and kim’s above comments. i am “mostly” vegetarian (and recovered ED) and have been for years but if my body is asking for something then there is probably a reason it need it. also, i have found that us ED folks can tend to try to “crowd out” as much food as possible in our recovery to try and limit temptation and still have control. stick with good whole, unprocessed foods!

    • Melissa says:

      Thanks Ali. I definitely used to do the whole “crowding out” certain foods when I was in a really bad state with my ED, but it has gotten better over the years. I will definitely listen to my body and feed it eggs when it needs it!

  8. Sarah says:

    I know this doesn’t exactly go with your moral commitments and other moral reasons you have for giving up eggs, but why not *try* it for a month or so and reassess how you feel? Use the journal to document how things are going, and then make a decision after you know how things will be?

    • Melissa says:

      I guess I go through phases with eggs and sometimes I go a significant amount of time without having them. I have them the most when I end up with GI so I suppose that it’s probably when I’ll have them the most…or when I bake something for the family. :) I’ll definitely see if there is a difference in my lifestyle if I eliminate them though and if it’s not good, I’ll go back to them!

  9. Gena says:

    I just wanted to jump in and say that even the eggs frequently labeled as “cage free” or “free range” are often found to be raised under terrible conditions. And that the male roosters on these farms are often terribly mistreated. If you were to befriend a farmer who you trusted like a family member, I’d understand, but many people order egg white omelets in restaurants or in baked goods without knowing the provenance of their eggs. And beyond that, it is very, VERY easy to get into tofu scramble!!!

    Being vegan is by far the best choice I ever made. It has to come from within, though, so take your time to figure out what is right for you :)

    • Melissa says:

      Thanks for the input Gena. I do have a close friend in town who I get my eggs from, and I even feed her chicken a lot of my leftover veggie scraps that I get from my produce box every week! We kind of barter with various things…haha! And as much as I love tofu scrambles, they never keep me that full…is that weird? Tofu never does! And I commend you for being completely vegan and even raw most of the time!

  10. M says:

    Hi there,
    I just want to add that with your stomach issues, you may want to wait before eliminating something you feel good eating. It seems that eggs fit in pretty well with your food philosophy if they are sustainably and humanely produced. Especially nowadays, with people raising chickens in their yards, you can definitely find truly free-range, borderline pet eggs. Check your farmers market (expect to pay A LOT of money, like $6-7 a dozen) or google produce/egg exchange with your city for home chicken keepers. You can visit the farm/house to see if your standards are met. I really admire your commitment to your beliefs and your ability to walk the walk.

    • Melissa says:

      Hi and thanks for your comment! I do try and do my best to stick to my food philosophy. I do have a friend who has several chickens who I get eggs from most of the time which helps alleviate my stress about eating the eggs. I’ll be moving soon so I won’t have her to get eggs from anymore, but I’ll definitely look into finding somewhere that I might be able to get eggs from that I think is up to par with my beliefs! Thanks for the suggestion!

  11. amanda says:

    hey, melissa. i know you’ll find your own way on this, no doubt, but if we’re speaking about compassion–and it sounds like we are–then do consider that, regardless of living conditions, abuse begins at *hatcheries* when male chicks are killed because we consider them useless, and female chicks are debeaked. for lots of details on all things animal agriculture, i encourage you to check out colleen patrick-goudreau’s podcast. (as an aside, one of her famous lines is ‘don’t do nothing just because you can’t do everything. do something.’ so if, for instance, you end up feeling like you want to be vegan except during a stomach flare-up when you feel like there are no other options, doing that is still helping a lot of animals.)

    for me, compassion brought me to the conclusion that animals simply are not ours to use. period. therefore animal agriculture is abhorrent in *pure theory*. the fact that we make it horrifying in practice is only worse.

    you may never come to that conclusion. but when i did, i went vegan simply and clearly, and it was not about restriction. animals and their reproductive products ceased to be food for me (i’d heard other people say that before, and i never understood it–then it happened to me). it wasn’t triggering in the least. my ED has nothing on my veganism. being vegan actually encouraged my recover, managed to pull me out of my own head, to make me realize that my choices are about something bigger and more important than how i feel about my thighs. it brought me perspective.

    obviously, ymmv, and i’m so sorry to go on about this. you should, of course, be cognizant of your illness. but be open to things that might help you heal.

    good luck! you’ll be fine.

    • Melissa says:

      Amanda, Thank you so much for your comment! I appreciate all of your information and suggestions! Funny, i just started listening to Colleen’s podcasts from iTunes and have several of her cookbooks/books in my own possession. I also believe that animals are not ours to use period and am starting to think that I will stray from eating eggs as long as my health can hold up to it. I too agree that being vegan for me is in no way triggering for my disease because it is for so many other reasons that I am more passionate about than what my mentality sometimes does with my ED and restriction. Thanks again for you comment; I sincerely appreciate it!

  12. Leng says:

    I completely understand where you come from about feelings of being a hypocrite. I used to think that because I wasn’t a full vegan that I was not really living up to what I was preaching. That I wasn’t really supporting the mantra, “no living being should suffer.”

    I went back and forth with the idea of going vegan for a while, but always ended up back to eating eggs (and cheese). and felt like a failure for it every time.

    It took me a while to realize that if and when I do give up dairy, I would be in a different state of mind. Meaning when (or if) I am able to successfully go vegan, I’d be ready.

    Just like we shouldn’t force living conditions upon animals, we shouldn’t force anything upon ourselves.

    I think key thing to remember is that when you (if you) give up eggs, you’ll be ready to do so. And if you don’t, just remember that you are already making a lot of changes happen.

    Good luck!

    • Melissa says:

      I think you’re right Leng, I’ll be completely ready when that moment finally clicks in my head and says that I’m good with no longer having eggs in my life! It may take some time, as has the rest of my choices for my food philosophy, but I’ll get there and I’m sure I’ll feel stronger and more passionate about it than ever!!!

  13. Kiran says:

    When I went vegan the hardest thing for me too was eggs. I loved eggs and for the first month I really did miss them. But after the first month, I had learnt so much about other natural foods that I no longer missed eggs – beans, lentils, tofu all great for breakfast. I make scrambled tofu, it’s so yummy!

    I think everyone here has great points and I respect everyone’s views. A personal lifestyle choice should be up to each individual. However, I must admit it frustrates me when people say what is wrong with eating an egg or a chicken if it has been treated with compassion. What if I asked a human, can I eat you or your baby while treating with you compassion of course? The reason I went vegan – What gives us the right to kill (even if it is with compassion) another species and eat them and/or their babies when we have so many other natural foods available to us?

    This is just my view of course. Whatever your choice will be, will be yours and don’t let anyone judge you for that.

    Wishing you a wonderful journey. Veganism or any dietary or life change is a journey, it will not happen with a snap of a finger. Ease your way into it and be kind to yourself. Don’t let slips bring you down, they happen to everyone.

  14. Rose says:

    I completely agree with Claire. I suffer with GI problems too, and I’d never cut out a food that helps settle down my stomach :) Just my two cents. You don’t need a label! Good luck starting this journey.

  15. i had largely been doing a vegan thing since jan 1 because i just wanted to clean everything up, but ended up having some dairy…and yes EGGS are the main thing I miss. didn’t miss meat after 1 day, but yes ice cream is still an issue. i think because I had also cut out sugar it really made me crave it.

    i’m going to host a vegan challenge in march. I want to really see if people can tell a difference in how they feel

    • Melissa says:

      I can’t wait to see what people think of your vegan challenge! I know I’ve definitely felt a difference in various things my eliminating dairy esp! And I hear you on craving the sugar…it’s driving me crazy!

  16. Though I’m admittedly not the best person to ask about going vegan, I have to agree with Rose and those with the GI issues that if eggs settle your stomach, don’t mess with it. That said, I can understand the moral issue, too, and think the suggestions to try going “egg free” for a couple of weeks or a month while journaling specifically about how your stomach feels, etc. would be a worthwhile experiment!

    • Melissa says:

      I’m definitely leaning in that direction and most likely will only eat the eggs when I really need them and their nutrients. Otherwise, I’ll stick to my other vegan protein filled foods for now!!!

  17. Pearl says:

    Hi Melissa, Just a quick comment that I don’r want to sound judgey or insensitive at all. Something that has concerned me a bit is that your eating does seem a bit ED-restrictive. You’ve mentioned some specific ways in which this is still the case, but adding other restrictions for any reason can be very triggering. Further, any type of restriction could mean less energy in your diet. Newer science based research on EDs states in part that normalizing eating over a long period of time is the way to help a brain rewire and heal from an ED.

    I know that you do work with a counselor, and by all means, whatever works for you is great. But if your counselor isn’t familiar with current research and science, possibly it would be worth considering a change.

    I say this all (not so quick after all!) also because I’m wondering if it could be connected your recent drop in readership. There are lots of little restrictive things or meals on the lighter side, etc in Trying To Heal that might be triggering to some folks. I absolutely think that you should blog any way you like, but this still might be the case.

    I’ve been a reader for quite a while, and I say this out of genuine concern :)

    Pearl

    • Melissa says:

      Hi Pearl,
      Please do not apologize as I greatly appreciate your comment and voice of concern. I do hope that my blog has not triggered you, as that would be my greatest fear as someone trying to recover and never want another person to go through this! Concerning your worries, as much as I would be easier to go back to normalized eating, if that even exists, I do not believe in half the things that I used to eat. Meat to me now is now something I no longer want to eat because of the calories, but because it is an animal and I don’t believe that something should die in order for me to nourish myself. As restrictive as it might be, I wouldn’t find joy having meat in my diet and would probably end up feeling guilty for that, which of course we don’t want!

      Again, thank you so much for you comment and I do hope you continue to read the blog, as crazy a direction it goes sometimes!

  18. I have tried being vegan in the past, and I also have that ED history. For me the reason that I am not vegan (or even vegetarian anymore) is because I feel better (physically and mentally) when I have animal products in my diet. I’m not saying that it’s impossible to be healthy as a vegan (or vegetarian), but for me it was very difficult. It also made me focus on food far more than I wanted to. ::shrug::

  19. ndpittman says:

    Hi! I just wanted to wish you luck in your journey. I’ve been vegan for a year and four months now! It’s hard to imagine!

    I didn’t really go through all of the comments here, but there are a lot of arguments for not eating eggs besides them being possible chickens (which I see someone posted is usually not the case.) Even cage free eggs are often tortured by unnatural living conditions. I know I would picture hens getting to roam around on a farm when I saw cage free; unfortunately, that’s just not reality. Additionally, male chicks are often killed as they don’t serve a purpose in the industry.

    That being said, if you found someone that had chickens for pets that just happened to have eggs, I think you could argue that they’re reasonably ethically to eat (thought I still don’t). I used to love scrambled eggs, but now the thought of it grosses me out a little.

    Most of all though, to echo someone else’s comments, be kind to yourself. Do what you need to do for your health. As Isa Chandra Moskowitz has often said, veganism will still be there when you’re feeling better and ready for it. Everything you’re doing is helping animals, the environment, and your health. Stay strong.

    • ndpittman says:

      Hello, again. Just saw how you source your eggs, and I think that’s commendable. Your health is important, and I hope you are feeling better soon.

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