I just got back from a week of dog-sitting at my parents’ place. Since I was spending it on my own I challenged myself to a week of vegan eating. Mostly to see if I could, but I have to admit I’ve been having a meat-eater’s crisis of conscience lately. I’ve gone through short bouts of vegetarianism in the past, but I think it had more to do with what the body wanted at the time than any great conviction on my part. Then several months ago, I met my friend Andie, who is a very committed vegan. No animal products of any kind. Not even clothing.

Out of interest in something new, and because I love to cook, I started reading up on vegan meals and it was pretty fascinating. There are lots of vegan pages online, but for getting started, Andie gave me this terrific book: The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen. I can’t recommend it enough. It’s not just recipes, it’s full of information on substitutions and what foods are good for protein, iron, calcium etc. Lots of food I’ve never tried and a lot of new ingredients that are WAY better for the body than butter, cream and cheese.

Never having been a dairy-person, (I’ve had lactose issues since I was a kid so it was just never part of my diet. Cheese and ice cream are nice treats though.) I thought I’d be at an advantage. Well, advantage or not, it’s still pretty hard. There are lots of great substitutions for the nutrients the body needs, but I really didn’t realize how many animal-products are part of my day-to-day routine. Whatever your beliefs about eating animals are or aren’t, I have to recommend trying a week like this at least once, just for the variety of new foods and the learning opportunity.

In doing the vegan reading, there is a lot of information about animal cruelty. Since I’ve been able to afford it, I’ve made a point of buying from local markets, farms, organic and “ethical”, bla bla bla. Mostly because it tastes better and was easy for me to think that at least my beef was cared for humanely, fed properly, allowed to roam around before it ended up on my Bar-B-Q.

But…If I were abducted by cannibals, I don’t think them treating me humanely before they butchered and ate me in front of all my friends, would be terribly comforting.

While I don’t think I could maintain it as a lifestyle, particularly since I’m sharing the groceries with another person, I do see a lot more vegan/vegetarian eating in my weekly routines. Partly for the animals, partly for the tasty variety and  just for the health of it.