Tuesday, February 1, 2011

a challenge...

ok, dear blog readers... i'm putting this out there in hopes that we can stir up discussion and encourage each other... not to put down each other's decisions and choices. this is a judgement-free zone and a place for me to "put myself out there" and possibly even be held accountable.

at the beginning of the year a dear friend from college took the plunge and became a vegan. yeah, i know, i rolled my eyes too. lee has a few friends that are strictly vegan... and it seems to be a popular topic of conversation these days.

...so, you probably know where this is headed right?

i watch an episode (recorded) of oprah today where she challenged her staff to become vegan for a week. the portion of her staff who accepted the challenge (a little less than 400 people) were very open and honest about their struggles, what foods they loved, the new experience of cooking, how the "substitutes" tasted... no, not all of it was positive feedback, but i can certainly appreciate the EFFORT of trying the vegan lifestyle for a week. the comments ranged from pleasantly surprised at some of the alternatives to meat... to better energy levels... and even down to the nitty gritty--they pooped more!

the other large portion of the show was a tour with lisa ling through a meat processing plant. the point here: if we're going to eat meat, we must be aware of where our food comes from... michael pollan said "if you make the choice to eat meat, you should know how its produced"...he even gave lots of statistics and could link our "health care crisis" to diseases that caused by our diet. think about it... it makes perfect sense... obesity, diabetes, heart disease... if we ate healthier and weren't so fat, we wouldn't have these problems.

oprah used the term "vegan-ish" several times... its about baby steps, for sure... but maybe the one part that made me think even more than the meat processing plant portion of the show was one of the interviews with a "skeptic" who took the challenge (we'll call her sarah for convenience--i don't really remember what her name was.)... she was speaking with kathy freston and seemed to be defensive--sorta combative about kathy "pushing" this lifestyle on her... kathy compared sarah's behavior to that of an addict... sarah was defensive about the lifestyle she was living and was in a bit of denial and had a LOT of skepticism.

"i don't wanna eat this $h!+" ...eh, i can't blame her. well, after kathy spoke with her a bit longer, sarah admitted that she does love fast food... and junk food... and didn't really want to give that up.

...somehow, i saw a weeeee little teeny tiny bit of myself in sarah... she liked the lifestyle she was living and didn't want anyone attacking it. but you know, the more i think about it, its hard to argue against veganism--or some variety of vegetarianism at the very least.

SO! what becomes of all of this?? i'm thinking really hard about the responsibility i have of knowing where my food comes from and at the very least, wondering about a healthier lifestyle. i mean seriously, have y'all ever seen a fat vegan? ....me neither.

after posting on facebook about today's episode of oprah, i've gotten lots of comments to watch food, inc. and read "skinny bitch"... i'm looking into these. even though i'm pretty sure after watching/reading these, i'll never want to eat ANYTHING again... but hey, maybe that's what i need to get "high school hannah" back? [long sigh... the kind of sigh that you sigh when someone tells you something that hurts, but you know they're right]

the challenge? i'm going to think really hard about it while i'm on the cruise... well, not TOO hard... it is vacation after all :) i'm going to TRY the vegan/vegetarian thing. i want to make a challenge that will be... well, CHALLENGING! but... i currently don't feel a conviction about eating eggs... or cheese... or milk. and i'm not interested in eating tofurkey or veggie burgers (...which reminds me... tofurkey? that has "processed" written all over it. isn't that sac-religious in veganism?). so, i'd like to set goals for myself and be focused... no, i don't want to think about a "way around it" or give myself so many/few rules that i skirt around my challenge for a week... i really wanna knuckle down and do it!

...i will TRY new things though. you know, things like soy or almond milk... lee and i have discussed almond milk (as we walk by it to pick up our 3 gallons of regular milk at the grocery store). maybe i'll try that one first. their commercials on tv are the most appealing... and maybe... juuuust maybe i'll try some things that are out of my comfort zone.

obviously, this is the very beginning. hence the epic blog post... i'm hoping to document the journey and maybe make some life-long lifestyle changes. its opened my eyes to a whole 'nother way of thinking... a whole different lifestyle and an entirely different culure. i know want to read a book (i hate reading.) and watch a documentary that i know will disgust me (isn't that like going to a haunted house?)... there's simply so much to think about. so much.

...so, back to "the challenge"...i'm going to give myself some guidelines (that i'll fill you in on after i've really had time to think about them and talk to myself.) and i will begin said challenge when we return from vacation. perhaps lee will join me (we've verrrrrrry briefly discussed this before)... and maybe he'll hold me to an even higher standard or challenge me to even more. even though we, as a family, may veer off the "oprah course", my wheels are churning about processed foods and veganism seemingly simultaneously. we may be more focused on one route or the other. i'll certainly keep you posted on this journey.

i'm thinking the challenge may be a bit drastic... for a short period of time... like NO meat or dairy for a week... then, we'll evaluate and make more lasting goals from there... sorta like oprah did. i think the "drastic portion" of the challenge will encourage us to try LOTS of things that are out of our comfort zones... and i'm sure some of them we won't like... but the hope is that we might find some that we DO like!

i WILL say this--i have already set one goal for myself... i'm not going to be the type to not enjoy a piece of birthday cake at my daughter's party because a certain type of flour wasn't used... or not enjoy a hotdog at a family cookout because that's all there is to eat--i don't want to push this on other people, but merely make better choices for myself. i'm not going to refuse to eat at a restaurant that doesn't offer a certain type of dish, etc... does that make sense?

hey, remember how i said there's so much to think about? what about the fact that i have a nearly year old daughter who's beginning to eat the food that we eat. i have some mixed emotions about taking her along this ride with me... like any good parent, i'm apprehensive to say the least about "doing"** this to her, too.

**...i know, that sounds so ridiculous--because this is supposed to be "better" for us--why wouldn't i do it sooner with her? but, i'd like to think of it as trying it out to make sure its ok for her...its my responsibility to help her make good decisions. but, i wanna ride the ride first to make sure its ok for her... yeah, like eating her halloween candy.

...is halloween candy vegan? what about vodka? ahhh... i digress.

well, of the 5 readers that i do have, i've lost probably 3 of them at this point. oh well. if you've managed to read this far, don't be discouraged--i do still plan on posting an obsessive amount of pictures and updates on eden. and nershi. and even a post or two about how great lee is :)

buckle up. this should be interesting. comments welcome.


Courtney said...

You have every single concern I have - every.single.one. Like you, I'm having a hard time getting worked up about organic eggs and organic milk. ..and I think about the fact that our bodies need vitamin B-12 to be healthy and that only comes from animal products. . . all of this just swirls around my head every day. I am way, way concerned about what I'm feeding Harper. ..Hopefully, she and Eden won't have to worry about this stuff when they're grown and have children!

Li'l Miss Muffet said...

Hannah, the Daniel Fast is completely vegan. The recipes are very good. You don't have to eat funky food to be vegan. Just more beans and whole grains for adequate protein. The veggie part of eating vegan is a no-brainer. Plus, in America we have such a smorgasbord of frozen fruit and vegetables that are to-the-table fresh. Expect the effects of detoxing, though.

Nadine Skinner said...

Hannah, what I am trying to do is just eat more fruits and veggies. I don't think many Americans eat the recommended amount. I, too, love my meat!

The Crocker's said...

We use organic milk for H. I do buy almond milk. vanilla is delish in coffee and it's pretty lowfat too.

Good luck! We are trying to eat "healthier" as in more veggies, less drive thrus but sometimes life gets in the way :)

E is getting soo big & even cuter!!!

House of Sykes said...

i really don't have a feeling one way or the other about this. john, kindly, reminds me often that i really can't speak to what people should do about their diet if they struggle with weight because i've never dealt with it myself. all i can say is good luck - do what works for you, keeps you happy and healthy!

Graceandjoelroberts said...

This one is tough, I totally agree we all eat way too much processed food, however vegan...I just don't feel like it is the right path for me. I am all for fresh fruits and veggies and would love to buy all free range, non-steriod (and so on) chicken/beef. I guess i just don't see the purpose to cut out all meat and dairy (unless a personal conviction). I've been reading some scripture about different eating "things" and the cloven hoof and chewing the cud references is enough for me.

I do completely understand about now that Eden is eating, re-evaluating everything. I've been doing that completely and we've changed a lot of what we eat. Who knew a little person could be such a great influence!!

Analee said...

when i worked with the division of water quality, one time i visited a rendering plant for pigs out in lenoir county. a truck drove in, and i could hear the pigs screaming/squeeling. it was horrible. i didn't know what a rendering plant was. as we left, i saw a worker pushing a large, wheeled garbage can of bloody bones to the dumpster. it was horrible. i didn't eat pork for a long, long time.

i can only buy organic meat byproducts (milk, cheese, eggs, etc.) my children have never eaten anything non-organic except when they eat away from home. and most of the time, i take their food with me.

as far as vitamins and minerals from not eating meat, you can give eden vitamins. i have to give both of my children vitamins because of low iron. my children don't eat meat, by choice not because i didn't/don't offer it. i also take a multivitamin. vitamins don't take the place of a healthy diet but they can fill the gaps when you are doing the best you can. you can eat only so much broccoli (for iron). and, well, my kids won't eat broccoli or spinach! :)

another thing i did last year was try buy a new type of vegetable or fruit every week from whole foods or the farmers market to prepare/try. most of them i did not like, but occasionally i did find something i liked. like, roasted beets. those actually turned out pretty good! and celery root. fennel is another favorite now... also, if you end up liking this diet, you may want to start getting vegetarian times magazine. they have lots of good recipes!