Thursday Thoughts: Veganism

Veganism is a topic that I’ve been reluctant to blog about, mainly because it’s so controversial and everyone seems to have a very strong opinion on it. There is little in between when debating veganism; the majority of people are either strongly for or strongly against it for their own (usually very personal) reasons. But, it’s a topic that I’d like to know more about and possibly explore at some point in my life.

I was a vegetarian/pescetarian for about eight years from 2006-2013. I’ve always been a huge animal lover, and I remember watching a documentary that aimed to expose the meat industry as a cruel, inhumane world that grossly mistreated livestock for food. I can easily recall the sick-to-my-stomach feeling after watching the whole documentary, and I vowed to never eat meat again. Of course, being only 12 at the time, my parents were concerned about the effects that a vegetarian lifestyle would have on my growing body. I eventually managed, with extensive research, to convince them to let me become a vegetarian – I think at the time I didn’t really know what veganism was. Veganism has become a really trendy topic of conversation as of late, but in 2006, it’s a topic that was seldom discussed, at least within my age group. So I ended up going on this journey of vegetarianism, and I loved it for the most part. I can honestly say that it made me feel healthier – I had better clarity of mind, more energy, and I slept better. I don’t have a good enough excuse as to why I decided to ditch vegetarianism other than I decided one day to eat a burger and that was the end of it. I still feel pretty guilty about it to this day, despite the fact that I’m fully aware that I could go back at any time.

Aside from that, I have also explored this past year with cutting dairy out of my diet. I watched a couple of YouTube videos on veganism, and it made perfect sense to me why human bodies don’t need dairy in our diets. Essentially, the milk that is produced from livestock is there to serve only one purpose – to feed babies (much like human mothers). This milk contains growth hormones that are designed to help grow babies big and strong. Humans are not designed to digest this product. I heard somewhere that all humans are lactose intolerant to varying degrees – you may not notice any physical symptoms of a lactose allergy, but your body has a hard time processing it. In addition to this, these growth hormones make humans put on weight. I found this super interesting and decided to try going dairy-free for one week. After one week, I lost 1.2kg and my energy levels had naturally spiked – this is because my body didn’t need extra energy to digest dairy. I tried to maintain as unbiased as I could in noticing changes, and I can confirm that they were not a placebo effect because I was actually secretly hoping it wasn’t true (cheese and wine is my absolute kryptonite). But because of the incredible changes I witnessed, I maintained a relatively dairy-free diet and continue to as much as I can. I love almond milk in almost anything and can’t imagine going back to cow’s milk.

So why, then, if I know that my body responds well to a vegetarian and dairy-free diet, do I not just become a full-time vegan? Not only for physical reasons, but I’m also still very much an animal lover as I previously mentioned. I think a lot of it has to do with ignorance. It’s so much easier to pretend that this cruel industry just doesn’t exist; to disassociate that steak on the barbecue with a live animal. I also believe it has to do with ease. Despite the growing trend in veganism over the years, it’s still somewhat tricky to manoeuvre vegan options when dining out, or going to a friend’s place for a meal. Nobody wants to be “that friend” who requires a special option.

Perhaps veganism is something I’ll work up to and embrace fully over the next few years, but for now, I’m going to do my best to reduce meat and dairy in my diet where possible, and I encourage you all to as well.

Food for thought.

Caitlin xx

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