Two weeks ago, I published a post written by my father. After 70 years of eating with abandon, my dad has gone vegan. In honor of his decision, I devoted the rest of that week to a few vegan dishes, including 2 new recipes I’d created just for him. Last week I didn’t post at all. Anyone with Meniere’s disease knows that regardless of diet, some days are bad. But yesterday I was feeling well again and shared an update on our chickens. Which left at least one person wondering… what about those eggs? Hadn’t I gone vegan, too?
Good question! The short answer is no. The long answer is quite a bit more complicated. So I decided to write a post about it.
When my dad, a man who previously lived for BBQ and ice cream, decided to go VEGAN, it rocked my world. Not only because of the extreme change, but because I’d been thinking about veganism for weeks. After picking up The China Study this summer, my husband and I had had many talks about veganism. Could we do it? Should we do it? How HONKING HARD WOULD IT BE??!! And so on. We’d had many conversations, all of them inconclusive. We felt were doing the very best we could. Shopping at the farmer’s market, supporting a local farm through a CSA, buying organic whenever possible, limiting our consumption of meat, and (of course) sticking to the low sodium diet without fail.
When my dad called me several weeks ago and announced he’d gone vegan, my jaw truly hit the floor. This was HUGE! This is a man who picked up KFC after his last angiogram. Okay, technically it was my mom who drove-thru, but you know what I’m saying!
In the ensuing weeks, I’ve spoken with my dad many times. Not only has he remained on the vegan diet, but he says that he’s thriving. He’s not hungry, he has more energy than he’s had in years and he’s even lost weight, though he’s eating as much food, maybe more, than before. The difference in his diet isn’t quantity, it’s quality. He’s always loved veggies and fruit, eating them abundantly, but as he explained to me several days ago, his meals always revolved around meat. Meat was center stage and main course. Now my dad is seeing each meal in a completely different way. I cannot tell you how inspiring this is – and exciting! If my dad can go vegan, truly anybody can.
But much like politics and religion, one’s diet is a deeply personal choice. Before I was diagnosed with Meniere’s, I was someone who respected vegetarianism and at times, followed it. That said, once I was forced to eliminate salt from my diet, the meat vs. no-meat debate flew out the window. There were simply too many meals to fill to consider giving up anything else I didn’t absolutely have to. And there’s the rub. For people on already restrictive diets, veganism is an even harder choice. Eliminating anything from one’s diet takes conscious and consistent effort. Adding an extra layer of burden – having to check and double-check not just sodium, but every single ingredient to make sure a product contains nothing animal-derived? For many – including me, that’s simply too much.
For now I am resigned to eating the way I have for the past 7 years. Wisely. I make choices on a daily basis, like many others. Weighing the healthfulness of options and deciding what I can or cannot afford to consume. I will continue to support the local economy as directly as possible. I will continue getting to know the people who grow my food as much as possible. And I will be as compassionate a human being as I can be. If that means eating less meat and more vegetables, I will consider myself fortunate.