Interview with a Vegan
There's no beef about it, Thomas A. is anti-meat.
I had the honor to interview a real vegan living in Attleboro. I was getting face time with someone that was as passionate about food as I am, but in a completely different way than I am used to.
Standing about 5 '10" and weighing about 170 pounds, the vegan looked fit. He was dressed in his green and beige plaid cotton shirt and wore dark blue jeans and brown rubber boots. He looked like someone straight out of a L.L. Bean catalog. Tom A. had a happy nature about him and I was excited to learn about a lifestyle much different than my own. I had only heard of the word "vegan" and now I was going to find out what it truly meant to live in a world without meat.
So what does it mean to be "vegan"? I get that one a lot. I can't speak for all vegans but I will tell you what it means to me. Slowing your life down, and by that I mean, taking the time to really look at your health and your diet and truly looking at what you're eating and why you are eating it and what it takes to really nourish our bodies so you can begin to make better choices. Vegans do not eat meat, eggs or dairy. We do not believe in the use of fur, leather, wool, down or cosmetics and chemical product testing on animals.
Were you always a vegan? No, I ate meat, eggs and dairy growing up. I am from an Irish Catholic family and we were fed meat and potatoes a lot. As I got a little older and started making my own food choices, I started to find the taste of meat and chicken to be different than what I was fed growing up. I wanted to know why, so I started doing a little research. I didn't like what I found when I actually took the time to ask where does our food come from. It didn't take long to make the decision to stop eating meat from animals that are treated in a way that is not only immoral but unhealthy. And as far as the clothing options we have, why wear animals? Don't we have enough natural and synthetic fibers to sustain ourselves? I think we do!
What made you become vegan? Honestly, I got sick of the way meat and chicken tasted, flavorless. I just didn't like it anymore and then I started to do research to find out why and that was all it took for me. I didn't like how corporations were treating the animals and how they were manipulating our food supply to make money. People don't stop to think why that family size package of chicken is only $5.00. You can't have cheap and quality all at the same time. We have become a society of overlooking what is staring us in the face. What ever happened to if it looks too good to be true it probably is? Come on people WAKE UP!
Do you try to get others to become vegan? Now, I have to admit I am a bit of a reformer, in the sense that I can't stop myself from trying to spread the word. I really hope people wake up from this prison like lifestyle they are in. Society, as a whole, is living in a world of not asking questions and thinking they just got a good deal. In reality, we are paying cheap prices for the very food that is making us sick. If people would make good decisions and develop organic eating habits we would see a big difference in health care and our daily lives. Because we have to eat, we need to make this choice everyday, several times a day and each time we eat, we are making a decision with consequences. But just like how we have been conditioned to buy junk, we can condition ourselves to eat better. And the more you do it, the easier it is.
In your opinion, how come more people aren't vegan? Mostly, people aren't asking questions about the food they are buying. If they did, they probably wouldn't eat it. Also, I believe it all goes back to conditioning. Our palates have become conditioned to crave fast food. We don't like food unless it is drenched in fat or overly salted. Most people don't even know what things taste like naturally. They miss out on important nutrients because they use so many seasoning and fat to give "flavor". I am always amazed that people don't have any sense of "natural" foods. When you think about the fact that we have a small "organic" consumer population, but people are willing to spend $2.00 on hormone filled chicken and then wonder why they don't feel good, it never ceases to amaze me. I don't know exactly when it happened. The overly processed, high sodium, high fat and cholesterol foods have made their way into most homes in America. Unfortunately, the way the food industry has conditioned us, we make being vegan a big thing, even being organic a big thing, when in reality it is a natural way of living. No one speaks up about hormones, and genetically altered foods, chemicals and over processed forms of what we call food, so we get stuck with what we are given. Then it almost becomes complicated when having to make a case against what is actually natural or "organic". When was the last time you ate an apple and felt sick because of it? Now, when was the last time you ate McDonald's and felt sick? Most people tell me they don't remember the last time they ate an apple, period! But they hit that drive through window a few times a week. We need to change our views on food and we need to do it quickly.
Was it challenging at first when you made the switch from meat eater to vegan? It isn't as challenging as you think, again conditioning. I wasn't always a vegan ,but once I actually woke up, I never went back. I lost 40 pounds easily and I feel amazing. I want everyone to feel this good. I want other people to feel what I feel just by making healthy choices. I find that when I have eaten junk food and fast food, I was always hungry and I always felt just kind of gross. Now, my body actually feels healthy and nourished every time I eat. Besides, I can't even look at meat anymore, it physically makes me sick. All I can think about is how unnatural the animals are treated. You are eating meats that aren't natural. The farming industry is so far away from giving consumers safe and natural cuts of meat. It is scary if you actually stop and think about it.
What does a vegan eat daily? I eat food with grains, organic vegetables, organic fruits and beans, because they are low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are rich in fiber and nutrients. I get my protein from legumes such as beans, tofu, peanuts and grains including rice, corn, whole wheat breads and pastas. I think about what I am eating and why. If I eat broccoli, kale, collard greens, tofu, juice and soy-milk, I get my calcium. When I eat chickpeas, spinach, pinto beans, and soy products, I get my iron. I take vitamins and drink lot of water. Before, I would live to eat; now I just eat to live. So much simpler and I am happier because of it.
How can people make a difference at the grocery store? Money talks and when you spend your money on specific products you are sending a message. I don't just complain about things I don't approve of. I use my money in productive ways such as not buying everything at the traditional grocery store. When I am at the grocery store, I only buy organic. I shop at farmer's markets and Whole Foods and stock up on wholesome, natural foods. I also plant my own fruit and vegetables in the summer and do my part to sustain myself in a truly organic way,
Have you ever seen an overweight vegan? No, I haven't. When you eat a high vegetable and fruit diet and you have eliminated the fat and meat, the weight just falls off. I laugh because most overweight people will try everything from no-carb, south beach, sugar-free, and other fad diets to try and lose weight. Now, if they weren't spending money on these diets and instead spent their money on organic foods, fruits and vegetables, drank more water, they would get the results they are looking for. People argue that organic food is more expensive, but again supply and demand. If more people used their voice at the grocery store by buying what is natural and less on the genetically altered, hormone injected products, companies would have to supply foods that people actually want to buy.
Any last words? Yes, anyone reading this article should congratulate themselves for showing interest in a healthier way of living. Now, I would suggest you clean out your fridge and freezer and take inventory of what's in your cabinets. Change can happen, one person at a time, to make this world a better place, a healthier place just by eating what was naturally provide for us without getting blood on our hands.