1Hey all, before we get going with this post, I want to let you know that I seem to have a gremlin in my computer and my computer shop turns out to run by complete #$%$^$%^#s, so I am without a reliable machine for 5 to 8 weeks. I will do my best to continue with regular posts, but I can't promise anything right now. On the bright side, without having the computer to distract me I've already got a new pattern worked out and several recipes. With time, I shall share!
Another thing, a disclaimer actually, is that this post is a response to an emailed question about becoming a vegan family from a reader. If you are not thinking about becoming vegan or even care about it in anyway, feel free to skip. Or you could read for information, the same way I always read knitting books without the least intention of making a single stitch. It's always good to know a bit more about the world we all share.
I am a conventional person. Like Julia Child. Have you seen the movie Julie & Julia?* One of the best parts of the movie was when Meryl Streep, playing six foot two Julia Child, announces herself a 'conventional woman' and then stands up, emphasizes her clearly unconventional height. It was well done and a brilliant reminder that what we consider normal is really only the familiar.
For really real, though, I am pretty conventional. I want what everyone else wants: food, clothing, shelter, and safety. And also meaningful work, a feeling of community, to be close to those I love, a bit of fun. As I go about my day there is nothing I do that strikes me as being unusual.
Lucky for me, the holidays are here (ish) and all the visiting with family and friends is going to remind me that I am not as normal as I think I am. I turns out, in comparison even to kin, I'm a bit of a freak. And about as far away from Julia Child as I can get.
Don't tell me you haven't noticed.
Being a weirdo doesn't bother me in the least. Neither does being the anti-Julia. Especially since I sometimes receive emails from lovely people asking how they too can become freaks.
I remember reading somewhere, some time ago, that about four percent of the North American population is vegetarian and about one percent is vegan. This seems like a small percentage, vegetarianism being of lesser frequency in the general population than schizophrenia as I have been reminded, but it still means over twenty one million North Americans tonight are choosing their evening substance with a desire to make positive change for animals, the planet, or even just their own health.
I have been vegetarian for fifteen years and vegan for nine of those years. My husband has been vegan for eight and our two children have never consumed animals or their products. Being vegan is as natural to me as breathing, but for people considering veganism, it seems to be a daunting lifestyle. The bodies of livestock animals are as intertwined with our lives as our families. We can't get away from them without some major changes to the way we think and live.
Change, even desirable change, is stressful. On stress scales, good events like the birth of babies are scored as high as divorces. Becoming vegan is a big step. Make no mistake there. But as stressful as it is, is can also be a joyous transition and, I found anyway, unexpectedly freeing. Instead of your dining choices reduced and restricted, you have now the opportunity to explore worlds that you would not of consider when your menu was based upon food coming from four or five different animals. How rich and wonderful the world of plants is! There is much out there to discover now that there is room on your plate.
The most frequent question I encounter from non-vegans is what the heck do I eat anyway? The answer is almost everything. Most food is vegan and it takes a special effort to create an omnivore's meal. At least if you are cooking at home. There are many wonderful vegan cookbooks out there and with the wide range of faux meat products available plus having a few ideas about how to substitute eggs and milk in baking, almost any traditional recipe can be veganized.
The second most frequent question is how do I do this with a family? My response is, how could I not? Children require nutrients and calories, all which are readily supplied with a vegan diet, but even more so, children require to know what their parents value and a framework for meaningful living. When they are older, they will more than likely reevaluate and make their own minds up as to where they stand. Excellent. Having been raised with critical thinking and strong values means they will already be comfortable with determining what is important to them and how to be true to themselves instead of being swayed by the crowd.
For the nitty gritty of veganism, I will have to come back another day. There is lots of information out there for the actual nutrition stuff, almost every library out there has a copy of Becoming Vegan, and you can order family specific guides like Raising Vegan Children in a Non-Vegan world online. I would like to share some of the daily veganisms I do with the kids and in the kitchen that have taken me a bit of time to learn but are ingrained into my everyday life. Like how to live without cheese and what to do when offered non-vegan candies while out in public. A girlfriend's guide to veganism, so to speak.
Until then, for you lovely becoming vegan families, try half a banana instead of an egg in your holiday baking and know that dark chocolate and candy canes are vegan, so go for it.
*I just finished watching Julie & Julia last night (every movie I watch takes at least two sittings, seeing how I usually run out of time before I run out of story). Last week, I read Julie Powell's book, and now, I'm desperate to find some time to actually read the blog that begun it all. I, for rather transparent reasons, love when bloggers make good.