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Friday Health Question: Going Vegan or Going Crazy?

This is more of call for opinion for vegans out there than it is a post. I'm interested in the connections between social justice/feminism and veganism.

In my research, I recently began reading this great blog about veganism and have been experimenting with radical cooking - daring meatless and dairy-free dishes.  My husband is literally and figuratively eating it up.  As long as there are huge amounts of quantity and tastes good, he's not going to complain.

But it's just the two of us right now and experimenting with veganism is, I've found, expensive.  Eating well, in general, is costly with a diet full of whole grain, beans, and raw, fresh, and sometimes organic produce.  I wonder, as I contemplate someday having a family, is veganism realistic with little ones who may be picky eaters?  How economically affordable is natural and organic for a growing family?  What are the ways to eat, cook, live well on reasonable budget?

Is going vegan worth it?  What's your advice about going vegan?  What pushed you to veganism?  What's your story? 

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Comments

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Veganism

Hi!
I'm a vegetarian, but I'm wondering - is it really more expensive to be a vegan than an omnivore? Where I live, in Norway, meat is quite expensive, while beans, lenses, fruit, veggies and corn is cheap. Tofu and fast food alternatives are of course expensive. Of course, if you want to eat organic, it's bound to be expensive. As a vegan, you probably have to make a lot of the food from basics, because, well, at least here, there's not many fast food alternatives for vegans, and there are hardly anything for vegetarians either.
About kids - yeah I believe you can raise kids on a vegan diet, but after some time you will have to let them eat whatever they want to eat. Me I grew up an omnivore, but at 13 I became a vegetarian, and had to cook for myself. This goes the other way around. If your kid wants to eat meat, you probably shouldn't deny him/her, as long as they don't bother you.
Most kids who are fed veggies at an early age usually don't turn out picky. I believe it is easier to remove something from their diet if you do so from the very beginning.
(I'm only 18, so my theories are just that - theories)
What's most important in changing your diet is to be sure about it. If you walk around thinking about meat a lot, you're probably not going to make your kids understand why they should be vegans.
By the way, love your blog!

loaded issue!

I'm a vegan out from home, vegetarian at home. I love local cheeses and free-range eggs, but only when I know they come from a local, organic farm that treats their animals with respect. I went vegetarian in Grade 8 after doing a media studies project on McDonalds. 9 years later and I'm more passionate than ever.

One of the biggest ways to have influence -voting with your dollar. The best place to do that? Your dinner plate! Food is a great way to start conversations with your friends. When I bring my "weird" vegan foods to school, my friends ask me what I'm eating, which can be a door into - not preaching- but conversations about food origins and ethics.

As far as expensive goes, I guess it's really a matter of what you want to spend your money on. In North America, we spend one of the smallest percentages of our incomes on food, something like 7%, where as in many European countries, they spend up to 20% of their incomes on food. When we buy cheap food, the costs are hidden- in the millions of dollars spent on battling obesity and its related diseases, in the environmental impact on the earth which we will be paying for thousands of years into the future.

A really important question for our society to be asking is: Why should healthy lifestyle, specifically safe, organic, local food, and ethical food, whether vegan or not, only be available to those of us with money?

There are so many issues surrounding veganism, local eating, and fair trade food. The bananas and dark chocolate we eat can be just as inhumane as slaughterhouse beef: child slave labor, profits going to guns and civil war (in the Ivory Coast), children being exposed to poisonous pesticides without protective gear, envirnomental damage to traditional food sources and ways of life. I think these are issues every vegan/feminist/environmentalist should be aware of! Here's some great books:

Bitter Chocolate by Carol Off - the history of chocolate and the current issues surrounding it's production

Bottomfeeder by Taras Grescoe - the state of the world's oceans and what seafood is ethical

Any of Michael Pollan's books - In Defence of Food and The Ominovre's Dillema

Diet for a New America by John Robbins

There's so many more! Food is such a loaded issue. Sorry for the long post. It was the first thing I saw this morning and it just happens to be my favorite subject.

I have been vegan for about

I have been vegan for about 2 years and 3 months and it is one of the best decisions I've ever made. Not only have my cooking skills drastically improved, but I've been introduced to another large, diverse, and engaged progressive community. I came to veganism because of my emotional connection to animals, but I staid because of my commitment to social justice. The VeganFreak podcast and Gary Francione's books were both instrumental in convincing me to become and stay vegan.

In terms of your specific questions, veganism is definitely attainable and affordable in the long term. My aunt has been vegan for over 20 years, and she eats largely organic and locally grown foods. In terms of finding things that are affordable, I find that buying staple ingredients in bulk (dry rice, dry beans/lentils, pasta, etc) allows me to afford to buy organic vegetables more often. Steering clear of expensive "subs" (subsitutes for meat, cheese, and other omni foods) or making them yourself are also ways to cut down on expense. I suggest the fabulous Dino Sarma's blog (altveg.blogspot.com) and podcast for time and money saving tips (as well as phenomenal recipes).

I cannot speak from experience about raising vegan children (though I plan to do this one day), but I do know there are quite a few resources out there for people who are interested in learning more. The book Becoming Vegan by Vesanto Melina provides detailed nutritional information for vegan pregnancy and parenting (in addition to general information on the vegan diet). Dreena Burton (vivelevegan.blogspot.com) has a number of cookbooks that also discuss the specifics of feeding vegan children from her own experience.

Also, from a theoretical perspective, Carol Adams' work on vegetarianism and feminism is, though possibly a bit outdated, very interesting and at times even poetic. I highly recommend her book The Sexual Politics of Meat as a starting point to the theoretical overlaps between veganism and feminism. The Vegans of Color blog is, as you point out, excellent. I have also been following The Vegan Ideal for similar theoretical discussions. I hope you find this information helpful.

Seriously?

Where are you buying your food? What kinds of food are you buying? I've been vegan now for about a year and my grocery bills have gone down dramatically. Of course, I do buy a lot of my staples in bulk (flour, sugar, dried beans, even tofu and powdered soymilk) which is a great cost savings. Even at Whole Foods, I will buy the store brand tofu and tempeh, which tends to be much cheaper than name brands. I don't buy many faux meats, which I do think can be expensive. As for produce, my boyfriend and I just signed up to get shipments of fresh produce bi-weekly, which is way cheaper than buying at the store, and will hopefully get us more variety than frozen broccoli / spinach.

As far as why I am vegan, and why I stay vegan... I think it's very important to know what is going into your body, and food is one thing we can exert control over. (Not so much pollutants, etc.) I recommend reading "The Food Revolution" by John Robbins, that book really opened by eyes to how healthy a vegan diet is, and how unhealthy most meat production is. (It's not just about animal rights!) And although Michael Pollan isn't vegan, or even vegetarian, his books are great for an overall picture of what food is and what we should eat. ("In Defense of Food" is great, and "Omnivore's Dillema" is fascinating.)

I went vegan my senior year

I went vegan my senior year in high school and it was really easy. I had been a vegetarian for 6 years already, so it wasn't that bad. I also was the main cook in the house at the time, so my parents gave me control over groceries and the menu.

However, the next year I went to college in downtown Detroit and moved to my own apartment. If anyone else has ever lived in Detroit (or any other predominately poor area), you know the food prices are exorbitant and the quality and selection of the food is dismal. Add to that my college student budget and you get disaster. I think I ate curried potatoes and waffles for 3 months solid. I became extremely anemic and eventually went back to just vegetarianism.

Four years later I have an actual income, still live in Detroit, and am a mostly-vegan. I eat yogurt 3 times a week and try to limit cheese to once a week (feta is my weakness!). I find it's a lot easier in the summer to remain vegan (and organic: gardening is the cheapest way to eat well, at least during the warm months).

I think you have to look at veganism pragmatically. Unless you live in an area where healthful eating has really been embraced, it can be nearly impossible to be vegan. I still have to drive 20 miles into the suburbs to buy tofu at a decent price and there are very few restaurants in the area that can guarantee they use no animal products.

But not to be completely negative, it is possible. Organic beans can be bought at Kroger or Meijer's for $.60 a can (I love cooking, but even I don't have tolerance for soaking beans). Bulk stores offer rice and nuts at low prices for the quantity. In Michigan, there's a chain called Randazzo's vegetable and fruits that offers produce dirt cheap (I've bought the ingredients for a large Greek salad - romaine hearts, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, beets, peppers - for under $3). It takes a little extra work, but finding places like these makes veganism a lot easier.

Also, sticking to whole foods and ingredients tends to be a lot cheaper (and healthier) than the processed and pre-made vegan foods

rice and beans are pretty cheap

Hello,

I'm one of the bloggers at Vegans of Color. I'm glad you like the site.

Vegan or not, if you buy processed food, it's going to be more expensive. If you buy seasonal produce, dried and canned beans, grains in bulk (or even an big bag of Uncle Ben's), and tofu (which is usually 2 for $5 at my local big chain supermarket; each pack provides 3 to 5 servings, depending on how much you eat. That's a lot cheaper than one steak), you'll be spending less money. I think the idea that being vegan is more expensive comes from the fact that many people think going from a meat-centered diet to a plant-based one means you have to "replace" your meat with Tofurky and Morningstar Farms. Or that you have to shop exclusively at Whole Paycheck (aka Whole Foods).

None of that is true. Bananas, rice, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, pears, oatmeal, peanut butter-those are all vegan foods but no one ever calls a banana vegan. They call soy ice cream vegan. We've got to move away from thinking being vegan is about eating processed "replacements." Eating vegan means you eat food that grows. That food, in season, is almost always cheaper than organic cookies and chicken parts.

My Depression-era grandparents from Puerto Rico lived on rice and beans and root vegetables and salad with some fish and meat thrown in. They lived frugally and ate a largely plant-based diet.

As for dealing with picky kids, I don't have any advice there. As a former picky eater myself, I say good luck. But if you start giving your kids real food from the start, you're ahead of the game. If you raise your kids as vegan (and most babies start as vegans/vegetarians for the first several months to a year anyway if you're only giving them breast milk and mashed bananas), that's all they will know. Why would it be hard for them?

I do think about raising my future kids vegan. I would like to do that. But if they are a bit older and eat pizza at a party, I'm not going to flip out. I'll just explain to them from a very young age that we're vegan because we care about animals. What they do with that information as they get older is up to them.

A last thing to think about in terms of the costs of vegan food. What about the long term costs to animals who are enslaved and tortured in factory farms, the costs to the underpaid and abused workers who have to kill the animals on our behalf, the costs to our environment from the toxins created by factory farmed animals, and the health care costs of eating animal parts and then needing a quadruple bypass? Sounds like being vegan might be one of your cheaper options in the long run.

Thoughts from a vegetarian of 12 years, vegan of 3:

just to echo the above, how much you spend on food depends largely on the type of food you're buying: processed foods, faux "meats," packaged meals, etc. are all way more expensive than fruits, veggies, grains, tofu and the like. I'm a lazy cook, so the husband and I tend to blow a lot of money at Whole Foods. But with some time and creativity, you can create all sorts of wonderful vegan and vegetarian foods from scratch. There are dozens of awesome vegan blogs on the internets; my faves include Wing-It Vegan (http://wingitvegan.blogspot.com/), Vegan Dad (http://vegandad.blogspot.com/), In a Vegetarian Kitchen with Nava Atlas (http://vegkitchen.com/) and of course the PPK (http://www.theppk.com/)

Re: the connections between veg*nism and other social justice movements, there are a ton of books and anthologies on the interrelated nature of human and non-human oppressions. I have a reading list up on my website (http://www.easyvegan.info/recommended-reading/intersections/); in particular, I recommend many of the ecofeminist anthologies edited by Adams and/or Donovan (I should note here that I don't consider myself an ecofeminist; the assumptions ecofeminists often make about the intrinsic "maternal" nature of womankind, make me uncomfortable), as well as 'Making a Killing' by Bob Torres and 'An Unnatural Order' by Jim Mason.

And, if you find yourself looking for a vegan ice cream, Turtle Mountain's Purely Decadent is THE BEST. Definitely an occasional treat, though - tre expensive.

Vegan for health

I have very recently (within the past 2-3 months) moved from a vegetarian to vegan diet and I consider it one of the best decisions I've ever made.
I became a vegetarian several years ago, mostly for health reasons. The change was fantastic. I felt much better almost immediately and noticed right away how much healthier I felt. When I transitioned over to a vegan diet this feeling was even more dramatic. Removing all traces of animal products from my diet has vastly improved my health and peace of mind. I know many vegans are largely motivated by ethics, and while I certainly feel very strongly about animal rights, I think that for me, health is a much bigger motivator.

Also, you may have come across this already, but just incase http://www.veganlunchbox.com/loaf_studio.html is a fantastic vegan-dinner facilitator. I mean, who doesn't like bean loaf?

family

I don't like how "having a family" is used to mean have a child/children. The implication being that people who are not parents do not have "a family."

I've been a vegan for nearly

I've been a vegan for nearly ten years and a vegetarian for five before that (though recently I have become what I call a "bad vegan" - eating cheese when out at restaurants). I became and stay a vegan to reduce the harm my life causes to animals, people, the Earth and myself. I echo what others have been saying - eating vegan doesn't have to be expensive. Even for omnivores food is cheaper if you buy ingredients instead of processed foods and prepare food yourself. One of my favourite, easiest and cheapest meals is a can of chickpeas, an onion, and a can of Patak's curry sauce served over rice. Organic foods are becoming more readily available (and cheaper) in regular grocery stores (the Canadian chain Loblaw's recently made the price of their store brand organic baby food the same as their non-organic) and organic produce is cheap and plentiful at the local farmers' market in the summer.

I occassionally eat cheese, buy leather shoes, can't afford to buy only organic groceries, often succumb to the convience of frozen food, want to eat aspagus in January, and will sleep in some Saturday mornings missing the chance to support local farmers at market. But everytime I take the time and effort to make the best choices I can - like cooking an amazing vegan meal with local and organic ingredients - it feels great and I've done a bit to lower my negative impact on the world. Veganism, like anything else doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing scenario. So even you're eating one vegan meal a week and choose one item a week to buy organic it all helps and is definitely worth it.

Thank you!

Thanks for all the tips from the vegetarians and vegans! I've been debating going to a stricter vegetarian diet for the past few months and the vegan issue comes up from time to time, although I admit I'd be a cheater and have to keep my yogurt and cheese. Really. Can't live without those... Any suggestions for healthy, quick veggie meals that keep well in leftovers? I'm trying to maximize the heck out of everything I buy from the grocery store of late? Black beans and rice is a favorite food of mine, but I'm wondering about any other veggie-friendly dishes? Any favorites that you wish other people knew about?

Leftovers!

Pasta and soup are frequent leftovers at my house - both keep really well (two of my favorite soup dishes are creamy potato/corn soup and "spicy" three bean soup). Couscous is a nice, quick meal, too (I love it with a little bit of olive oil, some garlic seasoning and sun-dried tomatoes).

Have you tried Follow Your Heart's Vegan Gourmet cheese? The husband says it tastes really close to "the real thing" - kind of greasy and salty like dairy mozzarella. (I wouldn't know - I'm allergic). The Silk, Whole Soy and So Delicious yogurts are all really good, too, but pricey. So Delicious also has a line of coconut milk products (ice cream, yogurt), which are gluten-free for those with wheat allergies. Very yummy!

Another suggestion for reducing food costs:

try growing some of your own fruits and veggies. If you don't have room for an outdoor summer garden and/or during the winter, experiment with indoor/container/windowsill gardening.

I meant to try growing some cherry tomatoes indoors this winter, but never quite got around to it. During the summer, I usually plant 6-10 different mini-tomato plants: grape, cherry, red pear, sweet 100. I eat 'em like candy, but they're *very pricey* in-store, especially in the off seasons.

Be careful

You and your husband are adults that can make your own food choices based on personal preference. If you feel better on a vegetarian or vegan diet, more power to you. But keep in mind, children have growing bodies that need nutrients that either have to be taken in supplement form or eaten in animal products. Zinc is a big one; you cannot sexually mature without it. I would not personally put my kid on a vegetarian diet, but to each their own. Be aware that parents have had children DIE because they forced a vegan diet on them at a young age and also the courts have begun taking children away from parents who put their kids on this kind of diet.

um, no

Parents have had children DIE because they starved their kids. The media, who love a sensational story, certainly blamed these deaths on so-called "vegan" or "vegetarian" diets (see: Nina Plank), but in reality, the kids were starved.

For instance, take the case of Crown Shakur, which is one of the examples to which I think you're referring:

It was a horrific crime. Last month in Atlanta, two parents were convicted of intentionally starving their six-week-old child to death. As part of their defense, the parents of Crown Shakur claimed that they are vegan, meaning that they do not consume meat, dairy, or other animal products. Their conviction has brought international attention to vegan childrearing.

As a nutritionist who testified as an expert witness for the prosecution in this trial, I want to clear up some disturbing misunderstandings about this case. Vegan diets are not only safe for babies; they’re healthier than ones based on animal products.

Unfortunately, not everyone talking about Crown’s death is getting the facts right. Some are even misusing this tragic and confusing case to question the ethics and adequacy of vegan nutrition during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, and childhood.

Yet one thing about Crown’s death is very clear. He was not killed by a vegan diet. As the autopsy report stated, Crown died of complications of starvation. I was in the courtroom when the judge and jury were shown photographs of Crown right after he was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. The infant was literally skin and bones. His parents had fed him the wrong food for an infant—soymilk and apple juice. But the real problem was that he was not given enough food of any sort.

(Source: http://foodconsumer.org/7777/8888/C_onsumer_A_ffair_26/062708332007_Heal...)

Crown was six weeks old; his parents should have been feeding him breast milk or formula, both of which can be vegan (the breast milk, if freely given; the formula, if soy-based). Soy MILK most certainly is not appropriate for a baby. The problem wasn't the Shakur's (supposed) veganism, it was a lack of knowledge. Don't conflate the two.

When an omnivorous baby or child is starved to death, we don't blame the dairy- or meat-based diet, do we?

actually, I should say

"The problem wasn't the Shakur's (supposed) veganism, it was a lack of knowledge, neglect or abuse."

Variable Vegetarian

I've been an on-and-off vegan since sixth grade. My first attempt at vegetarianism was tipped off by my allergy to meat and dairies. At first, I couldn't give up seafood either - I mean with all the sushi in the world, what for? But lately, it's been difficult for me to have a strict vegetarian diet, due to circumstances of my stay here in Manila.

I'm doing College and well, meat is probably the numero uno "staple food" here. When I moved over, I was on a strict vegan diet; mostly because my parents were very supportive about it and often bought me organic food to eat. But after a few months here, and due to allowance constraints, I was forced to feed myself meat. See, there is a very minimal number of vegan restos here, so it was utterly difficult. Even the campus' canteen served mostly meat viands. At first, I'd order a chicken meal and eat everything except for the meat itself but over time, I realized that I'm practically wasting money by doing so. Moreover, that serving of chicken in that meal died just to feed meat-hungry people, so by not eating them, I am practically putting their death to no use.

But going back to your questions, yes, veganism is completely realistic with little ones. Everyone is a picky eater - why are you considering veganism in the first place? And as said by somebody earlier, if such diet has been exercised while they're still young, they would not be too picky later.

Natural and organic food can be affordable if you want it to be; allocate a percentage of your total income and it would not be a problem. But of course, changing something from your usual lifestyle would always require you to change other things in that lifestyle too. Perhaps giving up smoking or drinking or a shopping spree?

And finally, yes, going vegetarian is completely worth it. Back to my story, I am a College student and I find it hard to go on a vegan diet because admittedly, it is considered expensive here. Nevertheless, as I've said, it CAN be affordable. By opting for specific choices. From personal experience, it proved to be a healthier decision. See, when I started eating meat again, I was tempted to have serving after serving of it. Again, admittedly, meat tastes good. It tastes so good that I lost control of how much of it I eat. Thus, I started gaining weight because I overate. And then I started getting ill. Constipation, acidic tummy, gastric, you name it. I tried cutting back on my intake until I finally decided to go vegetarian again. When I did, I felt healthier and fresher. I felt lighter and less strained.

Right now, I am an "on-and-off" vegan. I still grant myself the luxury of having a plate of sushi and sashimi now and then. See, if you decide to go vegan, do it gradually. And since you're already an adult now that you've considered vegetarianism, I believe it might be difficult for you. But it is very, very possible only if you set your mind to it. ((:

And if you need some encouragement, go to http://www.peta.org/ --- reasons why vegan is a two-thumbs-up, tips on how to start a vegan diet, free recipes, and if you're an animal lover, how you can help them by going vegan. ((:

I think you'll find that the

I think you'll find that the PETA support among many Bitch readers has run out. But I would encourage you to look at some of the awesome, cruelty-to-animals-and-women-free vegan blogs and sites suggested in the other comments.

Being Vegan is the Cheapest Way to Go

A couple months ago I wrote an article on my blog called the "Recession Proof Vegan Pantry" I've linked to it here. http://veganguineapig.blogspot.com/2008/10/recession-proof-vegan-pantry....

Bottom line is that plant foods are cheaper than meat based foods and their derivatives. If you choose to eat organic then yes organic foods will be more expensive than conventional but...plant based organic foods are still cheaper than meat based organic foods and their derivatives. There are plenty of poor college students out there living as vegans. I have been out of work for 6 months and thank God I'm vegan because I don't know how else I would have been able to stretch a dollar this far.

And I have to correct one point in your post. Children are not picky eaters. They are as picky as their parents allow them to be. It has been well documented in study after study that it can take up to 10 tries for children to like something this has a lot to do with their underdeveloped taste buds and the fact that they are exploring new things. But more importantly, children will eat what is around them. If you offer them junk food, candies, sugary snacks or only one type of food all the time that is what they will ask for time and time again. If you offer them fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains then that's what they will want. I grew up an omnivore but eating vegetables in our house was never an option. It was a part of every meal, even breakfast. I never even thought to question it. If I didn't like the way something tasted the first time I would still finish my meal and my parents would try it cooked a different way the next time. That's probably why I'm so adventurous with food now. I'll try anything (as long as it's vegan) and if I don't like it the first time I'll still go back and try it again. Cook it a different way, pair it with different things and see what i come up with. Basically, long story short it's all in the options you give them. I know many children who beg for raw broccoli as a snack. Go completely wild when their mom's offer them medjool dates as a treat and look at you like you're crazy if you attempt to give them fast food, candy or any other type of junk.

But really, I recommend checking out the blog post http://veganguineapig.blogspot.com/2008/10/recession-proof-vegan-pantry.... Hopefully it should help.

i agree

I am a vegetarian, but because I don't have any money right now I am (forced to be, haha) vegan. All that expensive stuff like cheese, yogurt, eggs (I only eat organic eggs) I can't afford right now. And it's not a big deal.

Kids

Kids eat according to their parents attitudes to food. Case in point: my best friend was told as a child that if he was really good he could have a raw carrot for desert. He still loves carrots, and since leaving home became vegetarian for environmental reasons and manages to spend about a third of what I do on groceries by shopping at markets.

Ever since I can remember,

Ever since I can remember, I've always had stomach problems. During my freshman year of college, stress combined with cafteria food caused me to lose weight (reverse freshman 15, anyone?) because I couldn't keep it down. I habitually felt bloated, sluggish, and sick (usually 5-6 colds a year).

Then I went vegan.

Since going vegan about 5 months ago, I have not thrown up once, my periods have become lighter and nearly cramp-free (they used to be quite bad), my skin clearned up, and I haven't got sick at all. I realize that going vegan isn't for everyone, but I cannot literally stress how much it has positivly impacted my life.

Although I have lost some weight since going vegan (about 15lbs) I don't care about the numbers on the scale. I've always known that its so much more important to feel better about oneself than looking good, its not until I went vegan that I truly started believing it. I don't count calories or worry about dieting, I just eat lots of fruits and veggies as well as grains and tofu. I feel like a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders and how I look and feel now is just one less thing I have to worry about.

Before going vegan, I didn't cook much. Lots of prepacked items that usually run $3-5 and we're only good for maybe a meal each. Now that I've started buying vegan-friendly foods, I've discovered how much I enjoy cooking. I spend about $40 a week on groceries.

Going Vegan

I became vegan thanks to my brother after he read the book The China Study and went vegan himself. He gave me his book to read and convinced me of the health benefits of reducing animal protein and protein in general in my diet. I have been vegan now for 2 & 1/2 years and I would never go back. I am generally healthier and more energetic, I lost some weight, and I haven't come down with nearly as many colds or bugs since going vegan. Even when I do rarely get sick, I tend to get better much more quickly than others with the same cold or bug.

It wasn't a super hard transition for me personally because a few months prior I had started reducing the salt and sugar in my diet. My parents could rarely afford for us to eat out growing up so we ate a lot of vegetables and less meat, which is actually quite cheap when you aren't buying exotic ingredients and produce out of season. I have to say dairy products were the hardest thing for me to give up because growing up we always had cubed cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt on hand. During my transition I did still eat meat about once a month. To me it just seemed easier to have a day to look forward to when I was craving meat, than to keep going without it indefinitely. In only a few months I didn't crave meat or dairy, with rare exceptions. In fact after cheating at a birthday party where they were serving ice cream cake I found that I have become lactose intolerant, which makes it very easy for me to avoid dairy products now.

Everyone is different, but I reccomend a more gradual switch. During your transition it is a good idea to try to discover lots of delicious vegan foods, and buy meat substitutes to help you get by and this does cost more. However once you're used to the diet and you no longer crave meat, you'll find there are many vegetable dishes that are just as good for a main course as steak or chicken used to be. In addition to our regular local grocery store, my husband and I shop at a wholesale store for staple items and a discount store for things like ramen noodles and canned veggies. We have a giant freezer in our garage and I find that having a lot to choose from on hand keeps us from the temptation to go grab fast food when we're feeling a little lazy.

One tip for going vegan on a budget: you can make all kinds of good meals with ramen noodles. Just toss out the seasoning packet and add in some canned or frozen mixed veggies, or add soy sauce and mushrooms for a faux miso soup. You can even make ramen noodle baked spaghetti, or cut up some cucumbers and tomatoes and add vinagarette dressing and seasonings for a delicious cold pasta salad (after cooking ramen noodles just put them in the freezer to cool off for a few). Also if you enjoy salad, lettuce is one of the cheapest items in the produce section and from there you just add toppings you like. Also rice is very cheap and filling, and you can have an infinite variety of rice dishes with all the different toppings and things to mix with it - try some vegetarian indian food for ideas.

If you do have the space for growing your own, I highly reccomend gardening and harvesting your own food. We live in the suburbs with a small fenced backyard, and were lucky enough to start out with some mature cherry and apple trees and concord grapes on part of our fence. We also started a garden in the corner and this year I am going to make a strawberry border next to our fence and grow beans and peas on the fence behind the border. Almost every plant in our yard produces a crop of some sort, and also adds to our property value just for looking nice.

As for kids eating vegan, I have a friend who has 2 kids who didn't start going vegan until their whole family did when they were 5 and 8. It did take the kids some time to get used to it, but since their parents were both eating vegan too it was like a family adventure for them. They did have a bit of a rough time at school because at the time they were eating school lunches and a few times they ate chicken fingers and spaghetti with meat in it, just because they didn't know they had meat in it. The school they go to was not very helpful at helping them tell the difference, so my friend just started packing their lunches. However since you don't have your kids yet, I would say you should have a much easier time, since your children won't ever get addicted to unhealthy fast food and sugary fatty desserts. There are books out there with suggestions for vegan parents, on how to make sure that your kid is getting all the right nutrients and vitamins for growing up vegan. Eating a wide variety of produce definitely helps any kid get their vitamins, vegan or not.

Vegan and Feminist

I went vegan for health reasons but found that the socio-economic reasons are more than compelling on their own. There are too many reasons to do them justice in such a short time and space. I encourage everyone to read up on it. As for veganism relating to feminism, I am so frustrated with many interrelated causes being separated. Hearing the feminist groups and PETA are fighting is so depressing. People! We have way bigger enemies to take on without fighting each other. Women have been bound to the earth and its oppression (as have people who are non-white) thus giving industry, capitalism, etc. the right to do whatever they want in the name of progress, tradition, etc. Long story short, stop eating meat/dairy and supporting agri-business, which pollutes our bodies and earth. Stop singling out a cause or two as your own and start working for the betterment of this world and all that live on it. It is so worth it!

Links of Oppression

I am excited to see that Bitch is finally delving into the links of oppression that include non-human animals. So often feminists deny or ignore the real and theorectical connections of subordination, cruelty and objectification that are present in the animal industry that we talk of in human oppression. Like the previous poster, I too became vegetarian for health and environmental impact reasons. But I became vegan because not only is the dairy industry just as, if not more cruel to animals and the earth, but I don't believe in life as a product and I don't believe in ownership over another living thing. That is what makes me a feminist and a vegan. For me it is also another form of activism. Growing my own food, using my dollar for local and non-animal products, I am not supporting the industries that are destroying us. The more people that make that decision, the more real change will come about. I would also suggest Carol J. Adams' "Neither Man nor Beast" where she articulates the patriarchal construct of animal control and the links of abortion rights to animal rights.

Links of Oppression

I am excited to see that Bitch is finally delving into the links of oppression that include non-human animals. So often feminists deny or ignore the real and theorectical connections of subordination, cruelty and objectification that are present in the animal industry that we talk of in human oppression. Like the previous poster, I too became vegetarian for health and environmental impact reasons. But I became vegan because not only is the dairy industry just as, if not more cruel to animals and the earth, but I don't believe in life as a product and I don't believe in ownership over another living thing. That is what makes me a feminist and a vegan. For me it is also another form of activism. Growing my own food, using my dollar for local and non-animal products, I am not supporting the industries that are destroying us. The more people that make that decision, the more real change will come about. I would also suggest Carol J. Adams' "Neither Man nor Beast" where she articulates the patriarchal construct of animal control and the links of abortion rights to animal rights.

PETA IDIOTS

Vegans are good when they dont force their wacky ideas on others but when they do like PETA is trying to do then their a bunch of wacko idiots who need to be stopped

Force my @ss

you douchefu*k, as a meat-eater myself, even being around PETA who show their stuff, I don't see anything being "forced."

If that was the case, they would be arrested and not existant anymore.

It's more like slanders such as this, being forced on PETA and vegans.

A few things: a) I've been

A few things:

a) I've been vegan for 6 years now and I could no more go back to being a non-vegan than I could kick a puppy in the head. The latter action might seem more violent, but to eat non-vegan foods is to literally harm an animal whether or not you actually see the animal you're harming. There are rare cases with people who raise very small amounts of chickens and then don't kill them when they stop producing eggs where this isn't true (even farmer's market eggs are mainly from people who will kill the bird once it's no longer useful.) But cows have their babies taken away and are killed when they stop producing milk. Chickens are lucky if all they are is killed. To me it wasn't really a decision once I did the research about how food is produced; it was a moral imperative.

b) It need not be expensive, but to eat organic is more expensive whether you're an omnivore or otherwise. (yet totally worth it when you consider how pesticides are destroying the soil/infiltrating the water supply). If you're making dishes in bulk, however, like chili or dal or any pasta fagioli with bulk or even canned beans, you should be able to feed a family for less money. If you grow your own produce that's another step in the right direction, although many stores also offer affordable (even local) produce if you hunt around. Eat in season too to save money. Kale is also your new best friend. Loads of nutrition. Saute it with garlic in sesame oil (Asian grocery store bought to save money).

c) Kids will sometimes be picky eaters no matter what, but as someone who's worked in childcare for 7 years I can say I've seen just as many children refuse to eat any meat until their parents finally broke that wall down. Unfortunately, many of those children had refused to eat meat because they had figured out that chicken really was a chicken. I don't think you'll ever find a kid who you can't nourish on a vegan diet, however. Most kids love peanut butter or almond butter. Most kids love noodles. And if presented in the correct way, most kids actually love most vegetables. Kids generally will love to eat things if they're presented as "fun" instead of "necessary."

d) Check out more websites. There are about a million reasons to go vegan right now. The animal cruelty/rights angle is only one and is covered pretty well at Vegan Outreach. If you google "diet, energy and global warming" you should still find the pdf from Eshel and Martin from the University of Chicago. They were the first study that showed that eating vegan is actually more effective in combating global warming than changing the car a person drives. Center for Science in the Public Interest has a site about "eating green" which tells about other environmental problems which can be alleviated with a vegan diet. Read the Rolling Stone article about pig farms and you should be sworn off pork if you care about water pollution. It goes on and on. I would do all the links for you myself, but I know you can find the stuff out there. A great book to check out if you get a chance is: "The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter" by Peter Singer and another author I can't remember off the top of my head. Great, breezy writing, chockful of facts and takes on Michael Pollan's arguments in "Omnivore's Dilemma" head-on. I wish more people had read this than Pollan's book, which probably is more popular because it makes people feel better about what they already do.

Anyway, good luck. After 6 months of veganism I lost all my dairy cravings. At this point dairy has all the appeal to me of snot. It's not that hard once you commit to making the transition. It helps if you live in Portland, Oregon of course, but I'm about to take my veganism to Korea, perhaps the most difficult vegan environment this side of Alaska. I have no worries that my commitment will stick, because it has been the best decision of my life and the best thing I can do every day to lighten my impact on the earth.

Oh and as to the person who

Oh and as to the person who said go vegan "gradually" - I would say just the opposite. If you want to actually go vegan, do it all the way. That person, note, still eats sushi, and is not fully vegan. I'm not trying to judge that person, just saying that going gradually always leaves you an out, whereas making a full commitment makes it easier.

I was a vegetarian for a little over a year before I went vegan. I kept saying I was going to give up dairy and eggs gradually. What ended up happening is that I would give up one dairy food and then start eating too much of another one. It ended up that I ate more dairy that year than I had ever eaten before. Then one day my ex-husband just decided he would be vegan and I said - "well I can do that too." I had a few times where I "freeganed" something over the next year or two, but I never felt right about it, and I put that food back down. For the most part, that was it, making the decision.

I will say, though, that I kept up a steady stream of reading on veganism, animal rights, the environment for at least the next year, and I have never stopped educating myself. Knowing your reasons for going vegan is the most important part of the process and you will need to remind yourself of them, because our culture wants you to be "normal", our culture wants you to look at meat, dairy and eggs as "food" rather than "animals." Many of your friends and family (even strangers) will also pressure you, so educating yourself can not be emphasized enough.

Going gradually is also not always effective because there is an addictive element psychologically and quite literally (in the case of cheese) in many of these foods. To allow something once in a while "as a treat" increases that thing's value and appeal. To realize that there is a reason you don't eat something and then stop eating it is much easier.

Oh yeah - and sorry if this is a bit more than you wanted. I've spent so long thinking about these things, I just have a lot to say.

I was vegetarian in college

I was vegetarian in college and a vegan for three months, and the reason I gave up eating animal products was not animal rights, but because I refused to give any more money to corporations who didn't give a damn if they were selling me poor quality, potentially contamined products.
I read up on antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria in pork products, salmonella in chicken, mad cow in beef and the general filth of meat processing plants. And while I've never been struck down with serious illness from my food, not only was it not worth the chance, I wasn't going to fork over my money to these companies who weren't going to make any changes any time soon. I came out of that phase being more conscientious of the animal products I do buy, particularly staying away from highly processed ones.