About once a week I take my kids to eat at the Swarthmore College cafeteria. I’d say that after playing video games, this is their favorite thing to do. The boys marvel at the range of kid-friendly food choices. I marvel at the panoply of dietary trends the school caters to.

Once there was a woman there doing a study about becoming vegan. She had a meat-is-bad spiel and showed people a picture of playful pigs in a field of sunflowers. The boys know pigs don’t like to eat sunflowers and there’s no way a farmer had them grazing in a field with food they don’t like; the pigs would have destroyed the field digging for something better to eat.

The boys equated being vegan with being stupid. I argued a little, because open minds can see two sides of anything, but it’s hard to defend pigs in sunflowers. I told the kids that Israel has the highest percentage of vegans because then you don’t have to think about rules of eating kosher. That was more convincing and the boys tried eating vegan for a day but quit in favor of a post-dinner pizza.

Then I was watching a YouTube channel called Joel and Lia. I found it because I’m fascinated by British accents. They do accents, but not that well. They do a great job of picking topics Americans are interested in hearing British people talk about. I clicked on What British People Love about America (open floor plans, for one) and then Questions for Americans from British people.

The questions Joel and Lia asked are really good:

Why do you still use credit cards? We don’t here, and we’re using the technology you invented. The slowest lines in London are the ones where an American is trying to use a credit card.

Why don’t you outlaw guns? We understand you have rights, or whatever, but surely there’s a way to decrease the gun violence. We can’t believe you can carry a gun everywhere.

Why is there a big gap in public toilets? You can see a person in the gap between the door and the wall of the toilet. Why is that? There is no gap in the UK toilets.

Why do you eat so much meat? Vegetarianism and veganism are very big in the UK, especially in London. Everyone has seen movies from Netflix like What the Health and C0wspiracy. Haven’t you seen those movies in the US?

There were a few more things on the list, but Joel and Lia did a good job of listing things that were obviously absurd about the US. So the vegan thing caught my eye. I never thought of it as surprising that we are not vegan, but I’ve also not heard of those Netflix movies.

So I watched them. And seriously, my mind was blown.

What the Health refers to a famous document from the tobacco industry that people refer to now as Doubt is Our Product. Here the tobacco industry takes the position that they can’t directly counter the research that says tobacco is bad for people, because there is no research that says tobacco is good for people. But people want to smoke, so what the tobacco industry can do is make people doubt the data that says smoking is bad. If people do not have to face the truth about the research, if they can doubt it and look the other way, then they’ll keep smoking.

What the Health shows the same thing is going on now with meat and dairy. We have lots of research that says meat causes cancer. The meat industry deals with this problem by providing all the funding for the American Heart Association. So the Heart Association engages in promoting meat as a viable food and creating doubt in the minds of people who hear that eating meat causes heart attacks.

The American Diabetes Association has an official policy of not talking about preventing diabetes, but only talking about living with it. This is because the meat industry funds this organization.

The Susan G. Komen foundation raises money to cure breast cancer. The foundation never talks about preventing breast cancer because the dairy industry funds the organization.

Among all these organizations, the silence on food choices to prevent illness makes people doubt their ability to control their medical destiny—the same thing the tobacco industry was trying to do. Also, just like the tobacco industry, the meat and dairy industries fund tons of research that encourages us to doubt the research from unbiased third-parties. If you have any doubts about the research behind the movie, here is all their data on one page. And here is Time magazine fact-checking the movie.

The other movie, Cowspiracy, shows how our government takes a similar approach to protecting our environment. For example, we talk about saving water hundreds of different ways, but nothing compares to the amount of water it takes to get a hamburger. The government would never tell us that, though, because the meat industry is too influential in our government.

I remember when I read research about education. I was shocked that everyone has already concluded that taking kids out of school is better for their education. I was shocked that I didn’t already know that. And I was hesitant to even write about the data because it was so easily available, I thought maybe I was just the last to know.

That’s how I feel about eating meat.

Also, I didn’t want to homeschool. It looked like it would be a pain and expensive, and I didn’t want to have to tell everyone that I’m only doing it because it’s so delusional not to do it. Because then I’d be implying that they were delusional. And people would be annoyed with me.

I have the same feeling here. I don’t want to be vegan. It’s a pain and it’s no fun and ruins all the ideas I had about what is a nice way to feed a family. But the research is all there. It would be ridiculous for me to know the truth and not act on it.

I remember when I called the school to say we are not coming back. I didn’t really believe it. That’s what I feel like now, telling you we are going to be vegan. It seems too hard and I hate that I found the truth. I have to admit that on some level it’s enjoyable to be sold doubt as a product.

Now that I see these two moments in my life, I can see that every time I have put off making a big decision, it’s been because I have a hunch that something is true, but there is a little lingering doubt. If I can pinpoint what my doubt is, then I can probably look more closely at that doubt in order to make a decision much faster. I don’t think I realized how much doubt overpowers my ability to change until I saw it in this context.

111 replies
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  1. Ellen
    Ellen says:

    Intuition also plays a role – not listening to it. People believe what they want (despite evidence).

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  2. Erin
    Erin says:

    I haven’t seen those movies but I did lots of reading/learning about the horrors of the American meat industry awhile back. Fast Food Nation was one book that stuck in my mind and the movie dramatization was stomach churning. Supersize me came out around the same time (early 2000s) and of course this was part of a focus on the fast food industry in particular.

    I also learned a lot from Nina Planck and Michael Pollan about eating real food and traditional foods. My takeaway has been to eat meat/dairy that’s local and from small farms. We only drink raw milk, and we eat very unprocessed local yogurts, cheeses and butters. I also moderate the amount of meat and include more fish, but I don’t cut animal products out, because I’m still breastfeeding and because I used to struggle with insulin resistance. After 10 years of treating my insulin resistance with diet, my doctor now says I’ve healed my body.

    I also don’t eat much meat because it’s expensive. When I do eat it, however, I feel better. My mantra has been: balance and moderation.

    I’m curious if the (new-to-me) movies you mentioned address traditional foods and The Weston Price foundation at all. I’ll have to check them out.

    • Jhyl
      Jhyl says:

      Your story resonated with me, I started reading “How Not to Die” by Micheal Greger (the founder of NutritionFacts.org) and it has been the MOST helpful, least annoying guide on how and what to eat. Highly recommended!

    • Abbie
      Abbie says:

      Agreed–Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food really changed how our family eats. For us the enemy isn’t eggs or dairy, it’s sugar. I couldn’t believe how much sugar was in every.single.thing. I bought at the store–especially food marketed to kids. Like why does “baby yogurt” have so much added sugar? There’s a huge connection between sugar lobbying and our government’s subsidization of corn…but I digress. I recommend In Defense of Food for anyone looking to clean up their diet.

      Good for you Penelope–you feed your family the way that makes sense to you. I’m kind of surprised you all weren’t already vegan. It seems to go hand in hand with home schooling, but maybe that’s just around here.

  3. Carol of Kensington
    Carol of Kensington says:

    Hi from the UK. I will listen to your Brit channel but don’t let the accent make you think they are telling you any absolute truths.

    Everyone uses a card in the UK. The American cards take longer to process, that’s all. The Oyster card beeps you onto public transport, except when it doesn’t. I’ll watch to see what the heck they’re talking about.

    There are plenty of guns in the UK. Mostly used for crime. There are tons of gun crimes in the UK every single day. The media doesn’t report them, unlike the States. I totally have to watch now and see them laying this lie on ya.

    There’s every single type of loo in London. London’s got a shooting up problem so the loos that are more private get covered in blood. For example, the loos at the V& A are vile but the building is 150 years old, so maybe that’s the problem.

    The UK has wonderful grass fed beef and lamb and the farms that promise “no grain finish, at all, evah” are booming. My local butcher has a window, you look out it and see the lambs eating the grass, happy and so cute. Yum.

    Netflix. That made me laugh. People sign up for the free month, binge, then cancel. Churn for all of those companies is a big problem. Did they mention that everyone must pay over $200 a year for a “TV license tax” or they get a criminal record? Yeah, the UK taxes people for their biased news and reality shows.

    These people are bonkers so I’m thinking their Vegan beliefs are crazy too.

    Look into the Ketogenic diet if you want cutting edge dietary information. That will also explain the value of thousands of years of history that man has been eating meat. Better for the brain that a carrot, just saying.

    US Government corruption in the food and tobacco areas are a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

    • Kathy Shaidle
      Kathy Shaidle says:

      Thanks, Carol! I’m Canadian and alas, many Canadians have the same reflexive anti-American snobbery displayed by that UK pair. It is big city virtue signalling. I can’t believe Penelope changed her diet because of movies these two recommended :-)

      It’s pretty rich for a pair of UK kids to blather about gun violence in the US when they have tens of thousands of jihadis roaming free, and those are (obviously) the known ones. PS: At the same time, there are 900 cops assigned to policing mean tweets. Priorities? Violent crime is now higher in London than it is in many US cities.

      And speaking of that: 54% of US counties in 2014 had zero murders, 2% of counties have 51% of the murders.

      https://crimeresearch.org/2017/04/number-murders-county-54-us-counties-2014-zero-murders-69-1-murder/

      Meanwhile, here in Canada:
      “Gun control has not worked in Canada. Since the new gun registration program started in 1998, the U.S. homicide rate has fallen, but the Canadian rate has increased. The net cost of Canada’s gun registry has surged beyond $1-billion — more than 500 times the amount originally estimated. Despite this, the Canadian government recently admitted it could not identify a single violent crime that had been solved through registration.”
      http://johnrlott.tripod.com/op-eds/NationalPost61504.html

      There are over 300 million people in the US. Once suicide is factored out, there are approximately 10000 gun related deaths in the US each year. In a nation in which every religion, race, language and political viewpoint are represented, and which has high rates of gun ownership, this tiny number is not an “epidemic.” It is akin to a miracle, but in fact speaks to the incredible decency, intelligence and sanity of Americans in general. It is a number they should be somewhat, well, proud of.

      • Chloe
        Chloe says:

        That’s a really terrible answer. Right off the bat, the gun registry was dismantled in 2012 following the Conservative party (our mild republican-like party) being elected. They campaigned for the dissolutions and disposal of the registry data and were finally able to do so in 2012.

    • Rhonda
      Rhonda says:

      I certainly enjoyed your post, Carol! Lots of truth here!

      And btw, Carol never said the US and UK are on par for gun possession and usage. She simply said that they have plenty of guns mostly used for crime, which is not reported by the media.

      • Noel A Barnes
        Noel A Barnes says:

        ‘Plenty’ is the word I would question. Just look at the difference between uk and us per 100,000 pop for gun related deaths.

        • Mysticaltyger
          Mysticaltyger says:

          Yet, look at your own measure….per 100,000. America’s murder rate is something like 5 per 100,000. So the difference between that and say, 1 per 100,000 is actually quite small.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Carol this was fun to read. I love the fresh perspective.
      See? This is why I like hearing Joel and Lia talk. Carol, look at how many people enjoyed reading your comment? You should totally have a YouTube channel!

      Penelope

    • Sarah
      Sarah says:

      Hello from someone who really is in the UK, living in London and seriously doubts that Carol anything other than a troll I’m afraid.

      “There are plenty of guns in the UK. Mostly used for crime. There are tons of gun crimes in the UK every single day. The media doesn’t report them, unlike the States. I totally have to watch now and see them laying this lie on ya.”

      No Carol, there aren’t. There were 31 deaths from firearms in the UK during the period 1 April 2016-31 March 2017. UK population 65 million. That’s 0.047 deaths per 100,000 of population. There were 15,110 deaths (excl. suicides) from guns in the USA in 2016. USA population 325m. That’s 4.65 deaths per 100,000 population. So you are statistically 100 times more likely to be shot to death in the USA than the UK.

      “There’s every single type of loo in London. London’s got a shooting up problem so the loos that are more private get covered in blood. For example, the loos at the V& A are vile but the building is 150 years old, so maybe that’s the problem.”

      No Carol, London’s loos are not covered in blood. There is certainly a rich variety of loos to be found here. And Victorian plumbing. But the picture you paint is just not accurate and does the city a gross disservice. Yes, there are drug users in London as with any other large city. Nationally, recreational cocaine usage seems to be on the increase but heroin usage is actually declining. The V & A is an amazing museum, free to enter and I’d invite Penelope and her readers to come and enjoy a visit. Especially as the pound has fallen against the dollar so steeply!

      “The UK has wonderful grass fed beef and lamb and the farms that promise “no grain finish, at all, evah” are booming. My local butcher has a window, you look out it and see the lambs eating the grass, happy and so cute. Yum.”

      Oh dear Carol, so here you reveal yourself. You live in Kensington, London? And you have a butcher shop that looks out onto lambs grazing? No, you don’t Carol. Because anyone who is actually British and knows Kensington knows it is part of central, urban London. No lambs. No farms.

      “Did they mention that everyone must pay over $200 a year for a “TV license tax” or they get a criminal record? Yeah, the UK taxes people for their biased news and reality shows.”

      Well, this one is sort of right, Carol! If you watch any TV channel as it is broadcast (or use the BBC’s iPlayer on demand service), you need to have a TV licence in the UK. If you just watch non-BBC on demand services only, you don’t need one. It currently costs £150.50/year. The TV licence has existed since 1946 and the money is used to fund the BBC. The BBC is therefore State funded but it is completely independent of the State (so not State run, like Russia Today, for example).

      A good number of Brits resent paying for the TV licence in the modern age of multi-channel offerings. Brits also debate exactly what the BBC should have as its remit (reality shows, um). One day I think the BBC may well move to a voluntary subscription model.

      Politicians on both sides of the political divide regularly complain it is biased – a good sign I think. Strict broadcast codes and public accountability mean that most of the time it is a fantastic place to get facts and intelligent debate. Overall, it is a beacon of truth, fact and light in a world full of opinion and agenda-lead programming posing as news. Its World Service and foreign broadcasting are vital messages into the darker corners of our World, where State run media is the only source of news and information.

      I was moved to respond to this post because so many people read and commented on it, including Penelope. President Trump has also Tweeted a lot of nonsense about London recently. It is important to me to present a true picture of my fantastic country. Not perfect but not “overrun by jihadis”, Kathy.

      It is a very safe place to work and holiday in and full of history and culture. Please come visit and see for yourselves. London alone will blow your socks off and the rest of the country has gems that are easily reached. Penelope – bring the boys for a visit. You will all love it and I’d be happy to show you around the V & A any day.

    • Michelle
      Michelle says:

      Love your response, Carol! So glad to hear that you’re unafraid to speak about the UK jihadis as well. I am following Tommy Robinson’s story closely here in NY.

      Jonathan Haidt’s website yourmorals.org tests your political bias (ignorance) on various issues. Gun violence is one of them. After your test, he provides a meta-analysis of the science to reveal the objective truth (to re-train you from your bias). The gun violence metadata shows that in the US, states that pass strict gun control legislation initially see decreased gun violence, but then the rate of gun violence increases overall. Likewise, states that promote responsible gun ownership see less gun violence overall.

      Take the 70+ people shot in Chicago last weekend, a city with strict gun control legislation in place. It’s true that more Americans have died in Chicago than Americans fighting in Afghanistan over the same period of time. The only solution is increased police presence (or as Trump suggests, we should send in the National Guard). It’s how we save lives.

      And how do we know that this works? The BLM movement caused the police to stop patrolling many Democratic-run, inner-city neighborhoods. In places like Baltimore, *because of BLM,* black-on-black crime, and thus black deaths, have gone up.

      https://www.npr.org/2017/12/31/574824963/baltimore-residents-blame-record-high-murder-rate-on-lower-police-presence

      As far as veganism goes, it’s fun to experiment with vegetables. I was vegan for 3 years and don’t regret it.

      Deforestation (these days, primarily for herding) is the chief cause of climate change. Methane (cow farts) is a more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon. Cutting down on your consumption of meat is a wonderful way to limit your environmental footprint.

      Substituting local, grass-fed meat with overprocessed soy products? In order to be a “healthy vegan,” at some point you have to do this, and I don’t think those products are good for your health or for the environment.

  4. Fergus
    Fergus says:

    Not sure how popularly known it is over in the US but there are some crazy animal welfare practices in your meat industry. That alone made me not want to eat meat.

    How animals are treated, what they’re subjected to and the conditions they live in is literally insane. I’m no activist, I’m just a normal guy and I was utterly appalled.

    One fact that stuck in my mind was the brutality from some of the workers. While inspectors were on farms they witnessed violence towards animals in something like 30-50% of farms. If half the farms are brash enough to be violent to animals in front of inspectors, what is it like when they’re not there. Animals with untreated broken legs, having body parts cut off, being punched and kicked. And that’s just the violence, the conditions and treatment and procedures – the systematic processes which ensure animals live a horrendous life before ending up on your plate, it’s crazy. Literally crazy.

    My limited impression is also that there is a crazy amount of corporate money that ends up controlling government and advertising and therefore I’d be skeptical of ever taking the status quo as fact.

  5. Amanda
    Amanda says:

    Penelope, love this!

    We do still use cards for everything but the swipe your phone thing is taking off esp in the city.

    Veganism is just like homeschooling; expect alot of push back and people digging around your choice when you just want to go about your life. Its different from other diets at has a moral value at its core and is a kick-back against the industrial farming we have all come to rely on. Ease yourself into it. A couple of pointers:

    The Minimalist Baker: https://minimalistbaker.com/

    Carnism by Melanie Joy, TED talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0VrZPBskpg

    Your boys will also hopefully be interested in both

    xx

  6. Dawn L
    Dawn L says:

    Just got back from the UK – used my credit card everywhere. Even the buskers had credit card readers. Noticed lots of people just “beeped” their credit card as they got on the bus (Oyster card for the Tube). Most popular comfort foods seemed to be fish and chips, sausage rolls, many varieties of meat pies & pasties, meat curries, and fried chicken. They sell a lot of premade sandwiches and I thought the chicken ones were best. Favorite meals were delicious lamb chops, traditional roast beef with veggies, and perfectly broiled halibut. I’m sure if I were vegan I would have found all the places that cater to that. But from what I could tell, most Brits love meat/fish/eggs.

  7. Erica S.
    Erica S. says:

    You should read “food, what the heck should I eat”. Some great insights of meat and diary. It’s not an all or nothing situation. You can have meat and dairy (in moderation) when sources humanely and properly (grass-fed and organic which is also better for the environment).

  8. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    Good luck. You might like to follow Rich Roll, who is a former attorney, recovering addict, eating standard American diet turned vegan, ultra athlete, entrepreneur. He and his wife also unschool their kids.

    I think with veganism, some people thrive while others don’t. I did it for two years very carefully and ended up wrecking my body.

    Carnivore diets are all the rage now: https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/ne74nw/inside-the-world-of-the-bitcoin-carnivores

  9. jennie k. Snyder
    jennie k. Snyder says:

    Great article! I keep going back and forth about becoming a vegetarian, if not vegan, again, and hesitate for all of the reasons Penelope lists here. But she’s right, as always. Bye, non-local meat and dairy. ~sigh~

  10. Wenda McMahan
    Wenda McMahan says:

    As always, Penelope, you are at the head of the pack. I love that your kids knew pigs wouldn’t be kept in a sunflower field because they’d destroy the sunflowers. I’d say you are educating your boys very well.

    There is always the option to start eating less meat and to buy the most sustainable meats you can find … but whatever you do, keep writing your boot-stompin blog.

  11. Cassie Boorn
    Cassie Boorn says:

    Adrienne watched what the health last summer, and we have been vegetarian ever since! Except for when I sneak bacon in the house, because I love breaking rules.

  12. Pat Sommer
    Pat Sommer says:

    Another label is whole foods plant based (WFPB).
    Allows some wiggle room on animal ingredients here and there ie fish sauce.
    The goal is getting in plenty of good veg vs absolute purity. I know plenty of marlborough and espresso vegans.

    Being vegan these past 30yrs and raising a 16yr old has had it’s challenges; not for the faint of heart.

    NutritionFacts.org extolls the benefits. Outlines research in detail

  13. Lydia
    Lydia says:

    What a total shit piece. I have never dreamed you of all people would be so weak and brain washed. Sustainable farmed and humanely raised animals can bring back the rainforests that agriculture has tore down for wheat. So dumb penelope, fkng really>? shockingly DUMB wow follower

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I spent seven years on a “sustainable farm”. There are a lot of problems with sustainable farming. For one thing, the only way to get enough land to do it is to inherit it. So this whole idea of sustainable farming will put us back into the feudal system where the only people who can raise animals are the aristocracy who inherited their land.

      But more than that, the cost of meat, if it’s really on a sustainable farm, and the animals are really treated well, will skyrocket. Here is one, single, example of how expensive meat will get:

      Meat going to market has to be scheduled – the farmer needs a farm hand to be there, the butcher needs to know the time of day the animal coming, the schedule needs to work around traffic so the animal is not in transport too long, the timing needs to be right for pre-sold customers (most sustainably raised meat is pre-sold because it’s so expensive for the farmer to raised). So there is a specific time the animal has to go to the butcher.

      Once there is a specific time, the farmer’s livelihood depends on moving the animal, but there is no humane way to move an animal that weights five to ten times as much as a person. So even the best farmers, with the best skills, and the best schedule, have to treat the animals badly to get them into the transportation mechanism. The odds that the animal just walks into a new situation it has never seen before is very low.

      If the farmer does not deliver animals on schedule then there is an inconsistent food supply. And that is very difficult to sell, because consumers cannot count on the product being there, and then it becomes way more expensive to have shelf space, stores, buyer/seller relationships, etc.

      So everything could be great for the sustainable farmer, but unless the farmer is famous (like Joel Salatain) and can count on quirky customers waiting forever for their meat, the farmer has to treat the animals in a way that consumers would say is “very bad” in order to get the animals to market on schedule.

      This is all to say that the price of meat would more than quadruple in order to have a meat supply that is sustainable that comes from animals that are treated well. And it doesn’t seem worth it to even talk about doing this since it would end up being such an incredibly elitist endeavor both in terms of land use and consumption.

      Penelope

      • Olivier
        Olivier says:

        Penelope, Yes the price of meat would skyrocket but what would be wrong with treating meat a a delicacy, to be consumed infrequently? Especially if, as you now believe, it is bad for your health.

        • Carol of Kensington
          Carol of Kensington says:

          I’ve just shared a bottle of cava with my Camden Town bred husband so I should not be typing anything.

          However, we should all be eating a lot less meat, 70 grams a day would be ample for a huge amount of nutritional excellence.

          Ew, I’m getting all pretentious, so will say, cheers for now!

        • Penelope Trunk
          Penelope Trunk says:

          Yeah, that’s a good point. I think the problem is that we are so so so far from that. There is no one set up to do that right now — no farmer, no restaurant, no consumer. In order to force a reset, something drastic will have to happen. And in an effort to make that drastic thing not destruction of the planet, I am going vegan.

          I actually have no problem with eating meat in principle. It’s just that the lies we tell ourselves are so deep and pathetic. I feel the same way with school. I would so love to send my kids to some sort of school that is not based on the deep and pathetic lies we tell ourselves about school.

          It’s obvious to me that participating in both meat and school is being part of the problem. But beyond that, participating in meat and school hurts the participants in a direct, measurable way. Also, it’s so clear that both meat and school are a class-based problem. That is, school totally sucks for poor people and we are not fixing it. And the meat supply is totally disgusting for poor people and we are not fixing it.

          I think the privileged people who are in the socioeconomic position to stop participating in meat and school are doing their job to help protect poorer people who are not in a good position to protect themselves.

          Penelope

          • Zellie
            Zellie says:

            I’m glad you found this information and that you aren’t discouraged by meat lovers. There’s a lot of push toward eating meat and butter for health, but I’m swayed by the decades and sheer mass of evidence in favor of less meat, not more.

            I hope you’ll let us know if you notice any changes in how you feel. I hope you start to feel great! One mistake lots of people make is not eating enough calories. If you really eat as suggested, with no added oil, you will need a large quantity of food. If you feel crappy, make sure you do something about it.

          • Carol of Kensington
            Carol of Kensington says:

            There is a butcher here in central England that sells grass fed beef to restaurants and high end grocery stores. Every morning 17 vans head off for all parts of the country. Or that’s the number last I heard. Could be much higher. Eye watering prices too.

            By supporting that butcher, abattoir in the alley behind, and they do butchery classes…sorry…one encourages others and the grass fed and grass finished market is growing, even in our squeezed economy.

            Unfortunately, women need protein, especially to keep hormones organised so I do hope you’re not cutting out eggs. OMG the podcasts I’ve listened to on THAT subject.

            I should do a podcast or youtube video on all this! Thanks for the encouragement. I am doing a massive amount of research on the subject and it is overwhelming.

            My husband has a friend who is studying the feelings and musical ability of plants. And that information is also out there. I saw a documentary on trees and how they communicate with each other.

            500 years ago, people planted trees in fours, so they’d have company.

            Sorry to go on. The whole subject is super interesting and modern science is learning so much.

            I now try and buy organic vegetables even though Glysophate blows on the wind. Yep, legal here too.

            I figure if it takes a good five minutes to wash all the teeny bugs and worms off, it must be natural. I’m not so worried about cutting plants off mid-song as I hope their song gets inside of me.

          • Jay
            Jay says:

            Dangerously close to politics in this column.

            “I think the privileged people who are in the socioeconomic position to stop participating in meat and school are doing their job to help protect poorer people who are not in a good position to protect themselves.”

            This country was not founded so that a ruling or elite class could decide things for everyday folks. It is quite pretentious to say that you know better and that poorer people can’t protect themselves. That is a nice sentiment, but it isn’t just he “poor” you are trying to protect – you are wanting all of us to eat by your rules. If you were being honest you would use the word “unenlightened” or more bluntly “stupid”. Because poor people shop at the same place as the majority (not everyone has a Whole Foods or grain fed beef available within 10 miles) of Americans – Kroger, HEB, Albertsons, Safeway, etc.

            I am by anyone’s measure one of the “privileged” in terms of income and education. I like hamburgers. I like steak. I like ribs. I am going to continue to eat those delicious items and don’t want anyone telling me I can’t.

            I think there is a better approach to this issue. By all means educate people about healthy food choices. Regarding possible climate impact – I believe that technology will address these issues whether they are man-influenced or not (the world has always had changing climate).

            I happen to agree with you on schools – they suck. But we should not dictate the answers, we should not legislate morality (because that is where this is headed). We should give people education and choice.

            There are others that could make this case far more eloquently, but my comments give you the general idea. Mostly, I think you are capable on reflecting on whether or not you chose the word (poor vs. stupid) correctly.

      • Bostonian
        Bostonian says:

        PT is right about the biggest choke point for meat raising being slaughter. It caused a lot of problems in my state when one long-term slaughterhouse shut down temporarily and Massachusetts was down to only one USDA slaughterhouse. A local halal butcher I know who used to sell mostly Massachusetts beef had to buy imported meat, and farms were having terrible trouble with queues.

        Some farmers responded to the problem by building abattoirs at their farms, and others in the southeast banded together to open a third slaughterhouse this summer. Meat production in New England is on the rise because our climate is ideal for pasture and more consumers want local, pastured meat.

        One of the things that’s helped my dad raise grass-fed beef profitably in Oregon is mobile slaughter units. They mount the whole slaughter and processing operation into a semi or trailer and drive it to the ranch. It’s also much less stressful for his steers than a long ride in a truck, thus the meat is better quality.

      • Kim
        Kim says:

        It is time to set up a carbon tax and use the income from that to support farmers who sequester carbon through regenerative agriculture. This doesn’t help you put food on your table today, but in the long run a carbon tax is vital to cooling the planet. Our vegetarian phase was inspired by a need to save money. Soybeans, even organic ones, are cheap.
        Kim Allsup

  14. Roxee
    Roxee says:

    For me the real takeaway in your article was the following:
    “lI can see that every time I have put off making a big decision, it’s been because I have a hunch that something is true, but there is a little lingering doubt. If I can pinpoint what my doubt is, then I can probably look more closely at that doubt in order to make a decision much faster. I don’t think I realized how much doubt overpowers my ability to change until I saw it in this context.”

    When faced with a decision, I need to deal with my doubts – I’ll refer to it as recognizing the ‘doubt-factor’ which then allows me to see all my options more clearly. Great words to live by!

    We’re each faced with crossroads in our life – when decisions need to be made – yet we often procrastinate or backslide. That’s actually a form of a decision but proactively making a decision is far healthier. Deal with Doubt “DWD” will be my new mantra!

    Choosing a vegan lifestyle is a very personal decision, and I hope it works for you and your family. If not, you can tweak it, modify it or totally change your mind once again. As long as there’s life, there’s opportunity for change.

    Good luck with today’s choice.

    And if it’s not working, or you need to change it, make a new choice tomorrow. Live with your decision; love your life!

    • Jen
      Jen says:

      Loved 2x quotes in your comment:

      “lI can see that every time I have put off making a big decision, it’s been because I have a hunch that something is true, but there is a little lingering doubt. If I can pinpoint what my doubt is, then I can probably look more closely at that doubt in order to make a decision much faster. I don’t think I realized how much doubt overpowers my ability to change until I saw it in this context.”

      “As long as there’s life, there’s opportunity for change…

      Good luck with today’s choice.”

  15. Amy D. Kovach
    Amy D. Kovach says:

    Some thoughts re this very interesting post:
    If you want to try a gourmet vegan dinner, this place has a community table meal weekly, I think maybe Saturday eves. Her food is delicious. http://www.missrachelspantry.com/home/ Might be an easy way to experiment with what is possible with a vegan diet. (I’m not vegan btw. Just familiar with Miss Rachel.)

    Wouldn’t cutting down meat/dairy be more workable (and sustainable and widely applicable to society) than going all the way? Both my kids were vegan for several years and I learned to cook that way and read all the labels. It was a ton of work and very difficult at larger family events. One is a carnivore now and the other is a vegetarian that eats some fish. The vegan thing is just too hard for the long haul.
    If you do meatless meals most nights of the week and maybe cheese pizza sometimes and burgers or bacon sometimes, that is more doable esp for teens (and even moreso for boy teens).

    The bread that has a tiny bit of egg way down in the ingredients would drive me crazy when they would reject it. I was the one reading all those labels in the grocery store. Ugh.

    They ate a lot of Goldbergs Peanut Chews, which are vegan but not deliberately. I think they were made too cheaply to use dairy products. And they are coincidentally from Philadelphia.

    This was all in the 90’s and early 2000’s. So there are a lot more products available now. But I still think it’s extreme and a bit snowflake-y with the ‘cater to me, I don’t eat animal products’ superiority vibe.
    But that’s just me.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      This reads like an excerpt from a cookbook for vegans that I would want to buy. Both practical and funny. You also confirm my greatest fears that any cookbook for both cooking for kids and cooking vegan would need to address the cook losing their mind with labels and picky eaters. So thank you for that.

      Penelope

      • Jackie
        Jackie says:

        Among my family members we have 8 allergies, 1 picky eater, and 1 mom (me) who constantly experiments with her diet to heal a long-standing health issue. We have found being vegan to be the most inclusive way for us to eat. Prior to us becoming vegan, I lived the “nightmare” of cooking 2-3 different dinners every night. Another added benefit, my son’s environmental allergies have virtually gone away. My theory, because his body is no longer expending the energy to fight allergens like dairy and soy or the energy needed to digest meat, his body is able fight environmental allergies. We can control what we put into our bodies, but not always our environments.

        So, this year, my kids and I as a homeschool project will be creating a personal cookbook documenting all the recipes we’ve come up with. Also, it’s important to me that my boys are self-sufficient so, my goal is for them to be able to cook every single recipe we develop themselves.

      • Sam
        Sam says:

        I highly recommend the vegan cookbook Thug Kitchen. Kids might like it because of the inclusion of the word fuck 100+ times. And the food is good and not especially complicated.

          • Francis
            Francis says:

            We are not vegan but that does sound like a good book.
            Learn how to press extra firm sprouted tofu (most nutritional) it’s actually very easy. Get a container with a snap on lid that is smaller than the block of tofu and just squeze it in there for an hour (in the fridge even) then pan fry with a little salt for a crispy crunchy tofu.
            Also, buy NutProtein milk by Silk and drink your coffe with this milk.

            All that said, I dont have an ethical problem with eating chicken and eggs. I do love a truck load of veggies though. My kids not as much.

            Good luck on your vegan journey. Mayin Bialik is a vegan mum without an attitude, she might have some helpful hints about food and other things.
            https://groknation.com/style/best-vegan-lipsticks/

  16. Mara
    Mara says:

    Ahhhhhhhh!!!!!!! I feel like you wrote the blog post that is the conversation I’m postponing having with my rabbi!!

    When you get a chance, read The Jewish Vegan by Rabbi Yanklowitz.

    And yasher koach!!!!

  17. Rick
    Rick says:

    You really nailed at the end here and this is one of the most clear and powerful messages since I’ve been following you.

    Doubt and fear can really prevent us from listening to our instincts from doing what we know to be “right” and it’s a huge concern.

    If we all found a way to make more rational decisions about what’s best for ourselves then we could reason through these much faster we would likely all find ourselves in a much happier, healthier and better place and surprisingly soon.

  18. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    This sentence – “Among all these organizations, the silence on food choices to prevent illness makes people doubt their ability to control their medical destiny; the same thing the tobacco industry was trying to do.” – reminded me of your post on personal responsibility ( http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2012/05/18/we-are-in-the-age-of-personal-responsibility/ ). Specifically, you are responsible for your own health. So this decision to become a vegan, vegetarian, or some variation is not surprising. I still eat meat and dairy products but it’s with less frequency and smaller portion sizes than ten or more years ago. So when I do eat meat, I appreciate it more. As for food overall, I like variety and having the ability to choose. As a quick aside, I find it necessary to include variety as criteria as I once went backpacking for a few days with GORP as my main supply of food. I reasoned that GORP had all the nutrients and energy I needed. What I learned is how quickly I got sick of eating a mixture of peanuts, raisins, dried fruit, other nuts, chocolate, etc. all the time. Also, in your sentence above, I think the mention of prevention of illness by making good food choices is important.
    The highest percentage of vegetarians and vegans by country goes to India by a wide margin according to Wikipedia and other sources. India leads at 31-42% while Israel and some other countries come in second at around 13-14%.
    I think the Time magazine article link critiquing the ‘What the Health’ movie should be – http://time.com/4897133/vegan-netflix-what-the-health/ .

    • Mary
      Mary says:

      Barbara Ehrenreich’s latest book shines some light on the extent of personal responsibility for your health though. You can still be unfortunate and have bad genes, get MND or cancer (60% of the cancers have no clear cause at the moment). Yes we should take care of ourselves, but there is only so much you can do. (For me, my vegan diet is only an animal welfare issue, nothing else. I am sure people can be healthy and unhaelthy on all kinds of diets).

    • Jen
      Jen says:

      Agreed with quote about us all being responsible for our own health. Also agreed with quote about variety. I think one of the reasons I’ve struggled with being vegan or vegetarian is because I would get bored of having the same meals each week e.g pasta on a Monday, soup on a Tuesday etc. But from my experience the people who do healthy eating well do usually have a set menu for the week.

  19. Kate Poole
    Kate Poole says:

    Hi P.

    I always enjoy your blog posts. You have a great way of seeing the big picture, and I appreciate your broad view.

    I wanted to share a few things to consider before you go all vegan. I studied nutrition, because I wanted to make the best informed choices for my health. I learned about the Weston Price foundation, https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/nutrition-greats/weston-a-price-dds/ who shares information on studies conducted by Dr. Price. He was a dentist in the 1930’s-1940’s who traveled the globe studying indigenous cultures who had very remarkable health until they were exposed to western foods. I think you will find the research very interesting.

    Not all meat is the same. Factory farms are NOT the place where you would want to procure your meat. http://www.polyfacefarms.com
    You can read here about Joel Salatin who is raising happy animals that provide healthy protein, in a sustainable way.

    All the best good health to you,
    Kate

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I lived on a farm for seven years that runs on the same principles as Joel Salatain. The only reason Joel’s farm is profitable is because he’s a celebrity. No one could make a profit running a farm that way because his customers make extra accommodations for him that normal consumers would not make.

      It’s like a movie star making tons of money from their Instagram feed but normal people cannot do it. It’s the celebrity that makes Instagram profitable. It’s not like Instagram is profitable on its own.

      Penelope

        • Penelope Trunk
          Penelope Trunk says:

          Ooh. So interesting! I always wonder how that farm could possibly support so many families. I once actually did the math for Joel’s books and speaking engagements to figure out if he was actually supporting everyone with that stuff. But aindon’t Think it’s enough. I love your sleuthing. I think logging is my missing piece to Joel Salatain’s income.

          Penelope

          • Jack
            Jack says:

            Years ago in my youth, I had worked in the Ag Lending department of a bank in a rural state. I remember that all of these specialty farms had side gigs to stay afloat, and usually a spouse that held a regular full-time job. Even if they were profitable, they weren’t making enough money to support a family. The side gigs such as custom work would often deliver 90% to over 100% of the operation’s profit.

            I was curious if his actual farming operation was breaking that trend. So I ran a quick search to see if there were any discussions about the farm’s financials.

  20. Linda Schaack
    Linda Schaack says:

    I have been eating a plant based diet for 16 months. I would say that I do this 95% of the time. If I am somewhere and want to eat fish or bacon, I will – but most all of the time, I eat plant based meals. It isn’t as hard as it might seem. If you keep things simple and basic. I am doing this for health reasons – I have no moral problem eating a piece of meat every once and a while. Forks over Knives is a good documentary and their website offers some good menu ideas.
    I am a runner and biker and the thing most people ask is how am I getting enough protein. This was addressed in one of the documentaries I watched – how many people have you ever heard of that have a protein deficiency? It isn’t very common! There are enough proteins in veggies and nuts and there is always peanut butter! I think that the “advertised” amount of needed protein is likely the result of the meat industry.

    • Angie
      Angie says:

      Protein deficiency is probably not common in the United States precisely because people have so much access to dairy, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. But it does occur among poorer U.S. populations who cannot afford regular intake of high-protein foods. And it’s much more common in developing countries, where protein-energy malnutrition is a major problem.

      I tried veganism several years ago, but I failed after struggling with ZERO energy for months. I ended up adding dairy, chicken, eggs, and fish back into my diet. I’m pregnant right now, and I am constantly hungry unless I eat some of these proteins every day. I was trying to get the majority of protein from beans and legumes, but I found I’d have to eat literally every hour, which is not sustainable for me. When I talked to the doctor about it, she said that beans and legumes have protein but are still mostly carbs, and so they just aren’t going to stave off hunger as much as animal proteins. So for now, I’m eating even more of these proteins than before. But for health reasons, I hope to reduce animal products in my diet after the baby is born.

  21. Maria Miccoli
    Maria Miccoli says:

    I think of the Lions, the Tigers and even dogs. All eat meat. Sometimes I feel guilty, I go through a semi-veg. diet, then I feel weak and can barely raise my arm.

    I even gained a lot of weight.

    So, I am choosing to eat meat and vegetables and give up grains, starches and fruit for a while.

    As for homeschooling, it was out of necessity. We were too poor to live in expensive neighborhoods where the zoning for the best schools were. Sometimes they put circles around apartment complexes to bus kids to the worst schools. I’m a rebel. So I home-schooled. It worked for me and my daughter.

    But home-schooling isn’t for everyone. Staying at home with a violent alcoholic is hell. Summers were bad enough for me growing up. Home-schooling has been used to cover up abuse. Sadly, this is the reason, that although my daughter excelled, she stated she couldn’t support home-schooling publicly. I agree with her.

    It’s not for everyone.

  22. A
    A says:

    Interesting re the bodies that the meat and dairy industry funds. I used to wonder if they funded the Disney Channel. When my daughter watched it there always seem to be something negative said about vegetarians or vegans or their characters were weird. There were fairs with huge cheese wheel rolling, chicken wing eating contests and food fights. Everyone seemed to get jobs in frozen yogurt shops or ice cream parlours where the machine overflows and spend a lot of time talking about brisket, turkey legs, hot dogs and salmon while eschewing vegetables/ salad. I grew up on a small suckler farm and you’re right about when animals are being shipped or moved into an unfamiliar place. There is a certain amount of training to come to feed and getting used to electric fences to guide them but in the finish they will usually use sticks to get them to go where they want.

  23. Sara
    Sara says:

    Just a side note: Israeli does have the highest ratio of vegans, but it has nothing to do with keeping kosher.

    Most Israeli vegans are pretty secular and did not stress over keeping kosher before they became vegan.

    The vegan movement in Israel is mainly based on the animal rights movement.

  24. Leonie
    Leonie says:

    I was vegan for about a year. Then I gave up. It was too hard. Now I eat meat/dairy a few times a month and I’m vegan the rest of the time. I treat it like my “dessert” food. Much more sustainable.

    When I started looking into diet and nutrition, the most shocking thing to me was the high percentage of people who have some type of lactose sensitivity. Yet, milk is always recommended as a healthy source of calcium. Never mind that the countries with the highest milk consumption are also the ones with the highest rates of bone disease. I couldn’t believe how fast my skin cleared up when I quit milk.

    Anyways, Good luck!

  25. Mary Jane
    Mary Jane says:

    Wow! Unexpected post, but one that carries a particular weight as you’ve lived the farm life :)

    I’m about 90% vegan* since last November, just after reading more about the emotional life of mammals (in a book that was not about veganism actually. I found myself putting it away again and again as I found it hard to read). Then, on a cycle trip through the UK countryside I saw some calves dinking with their cow mums (it was a meat breed) and I just felt so incredibly sad for the dairy cows. I decided to give it a go and stop eating dairy and eggs (I alredy hardly ate meat) as part of a vegan challenge supported by animal aid. I was a vegetarian for many years out of environmental reasons, but my motivations now are more emotional. I now love trying new vegan recipes and don’t miss the cheese at all! I have eatne fish (non farmed) on occasion, and will eat venison (twice sonce November) as the UK had too many deer anyway. Not sure if it is affecting my health as my resons are mostly emotional. If I had nknown how much fun vegan cooking would be, I would have tried yeas ago :).

    I have to say though, many things about the ‘new’ vegan community put me off. It can be quite elitist and snobbish, which I have no interest in at all. But overall, nothign bu possitive experiences. Have fun!

    * When I travel I often switch to vegetarian food depending on the destination, or when visiting folks that do not know about my new diet yet. Next to animal exploitation I also resent food waste, so i will use someone’s butter or milk rather than making them buy things they might throw out later.

  26. Chloe
    Chloe says:

    I never comment but stopped by with this bit of advice: don’t bother with the cheese alternatives for a while, they will all fall short initially. After several months, you’ll be more open to a reinterpretation of cheese. Ice creams are good to go tho, so many good subs nowadays!

  27. Sarah Perkins
    Sarah Perkins says:

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  28. Sarah M
    Sarah M says:

    So, I didn’t read any of the comments (yet) but what if you have the knowledge but still just don’t want to do it? I read The China Study nearly 10 years ago. I get it. I just really, really enjoy the flavor of meat and eggs. We don’t eat a ton of meat (but we do eat a lot of local eggs), but having the knowledge won’t change my mind. I already have celiac (so, actually have to eat gluten-free) and went vegetarian for a year to save money and see if I could do it. I was never satiated even though I ate a lot of protein through beans and legumes. It wasn’t enjoyable. I needed meat sometimes. Does that make me delusional? Maybe. But where’s the info on the cancer-giving radiation from wireless internet and the cell phones we keep next to our bodies? It probably wouldn’t change many people’s habits to have that outed as well…

  29. Bostonian
    Bostonian says:

    PT, I wonder if you actually read the Time article fact-checking the movie “What the Health.” Because Time found that the movie came up very short in terms of facts. E.G. eggs aren’t actually bad for you, because eating cholesterol doesn’t actually give you cholesterol any more than eating rice makes you white; the link between processed meats and cancer is in the processing, not in the meat; and the link between dairy consumption and cancer is tenuous at best.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I don’t trust the livestock producers to self-police. And I don’t trust my own ability to know what labels actually mean. Not because farmers are bad, but because it’s too hard to make a living as a farmer.

      I don’t think consumers have the ability to force change. The meat and dairy lobby is too strong in the US.

      As a point of reference I lived on one of the best farms for livestock in the country and non-farmers would be horrified by how animals are treated there; a lot of it is simply cultural. Farmers live in a different world from non-farmers.

      And I was surrounded by Amish farmers raising cage free, grazing chickens, and while that label is technically true, it’s absolutely not what consumers imagine that means.

      In the end, if you are not raising your own food you probably shouldn’t assume you have any ability to tell how your food was raised. Even the sweetest, nicest farmer has to make a profit. And any farmer raising livestock independently is going to have to cut corners to turn a profit.

      And I don’t believe people have any idea how high prices would be to get food from livestock that is treated how you think it should be treated. We charged $12/dozen for our eggs and it still wasn’t a profitable business because we had to get the eggs to the consumers. So when I’m buying eggs in the grocery store for $6/dozen I know the hens are not being treated the way I’d want them to be.

      Penelope

      • Bostonian
        Bostonian says:

        If you say The Farmer was mean to his piggies, that’s something you’d know, not me. My dad’s little steers (which he buys from a dairy farm with no use for them – they’d be killed as calves otherwise) have a pretty idyllic life and one bad day.

        I find it interesting that your response doesn’t at all address the factual errors regarding dietary health in the video, as pointed out by Time. Perhaps that means your motivation for a veggie diet comes from feeling bad for animals, not from a desire for better health.

        My wife and son have recently gone the opposite way, for better health – they’ve changed to a low carb, ketogenic diet. You might be interested to read about the effects of a ketogenic diet on children with autism spectrum disorder.

  30. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    Nooo… vegans are the most sanctimonious, so unschooling-vegans must be off the charts!!

    Anyway, all my tech hipster conferences are cutting back on meat now. Did you see the story where the sort-of tech start up WeWork (with 6000 employees & recently bought up MeetUp) put in a new policy excluding meat from all work locations and events plus they have banned expensing of meat citing environmental harms.

    • MJ
      MJ says:

      My understanding is that you can still bring your own meatball sandwich, just that the company will not refund meals with meat. There are actually a few UK organisations I know who do this (i.e vegetarian catering only for meetings), most of them environmental sector.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Wow. That’s so cool. I love that. I’m sure meat eaters expense stuff anyway, but I like the sentiment.

      Penelope

  31. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    The best way to go Vegan is to hire a vegan chef to come to your house to show you how to prepare several delicious meals, and to give you ideas for quick meal ideas, snack options etc.

    I’ve been an off/on Vegetarian for 3 years. I won’t give up my honey or cream for my coffee. ;)

  32. jana
    jana says:

    Have you read the eating for your blood type book ? I’m type O and don’t do well on a vegan diet. It’s not one size fits all.

    • Bostonian
      Bostonian says:

      Funny story: my wife got a hold of that book some decades back and insisted on eating right for her blood type for years on end, giving an odd assortment of foods the stink-eye and eating vegetarian.

      When we got married, we both had blood tests and she discovered she had been eating right for the wrong blood type.

      I took her to a barbecue joint to celebrate her newfound type O-ness. Vegetarianism fell to the irresistible deliciousness of pulled pork. These days she eats low-carb and is much healthier.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Hm. So interesting. I am worrying my kids aren’t getting enough protein. Now I have this to worry about.

      Penelope

      • Ellen
        Ellen says:

        This worry about not getting enough protein as a vegetarian or a vegan drives me NUTS. Everyone always asks how I get enough protein when I mostly avoid meat. There are plenty of plant-based proteins: nuts, seeds, legumes, vegan protein powders, tofu, tempeh, soy yogurt, even spinach, et al. (And if you’re veg, you can get protein from dairy products as well.) Plus, once you start getting more conscientious about your food choices, you usually start being more conscious about your nutrition. The question they should REALLY be asking is, how do you make sure you get enough B12? This is the hardest thing to get as a vegan (NOT PROTEIN!!) and you have to make a conscious effort…usually by taking supplements. Of course, you could also eat nutritional yeast and/or vegemite/marmite to get this but I believe you have to eat quite a bit to get enough.

        It also drives me NUTS, because I’m pretty sure all of the people who are so concerned about my protein intake don’t have perfect nutrition. I always want to ask them: “How do you make sure you’re getting enough vegetables, when you eat so much meat?”

      • Sam
        Sam says:

        Protein deficiency is pretty rare in the US for people of any diet. Good science shows that the amount of protein we’ve been told we need is actually much more than the average or even a very active person needs. But vegans absolutely need to supplement with vitamin B (and iron, though this is less critical). There are excellent vegan multivitamins that can help with this.

  33. J.E.
    J.E. says:

    I could be vegetarian easy, mainly because I’m too lazy to prepare meat dishes. Being vegan would be way harder for me because I love Greek yogurt and cheeses. I still haven’t found a vegan substitute for cheese that tastes good to me.

  34. Lightbulb
    Lightbulb says:

    I didn’t know they meat industry funds research.

    Avon products, or conventions cosmetics contain carcigenic ingredients. Why does Avon support breast cancer walk, brewer cancer research, yet keep producing products with harmful ingredients?

    • veganarian
      veganarian says:

      Right. And why do PetSmart and other chains that actually traffic in and sell animals in their stores pat themselves on the back for dog/cat adoption events? Cray cray

  35. Jen
    Jen says:

    Would like to add (as a brit) that I’m not surprised veganisim is more popular in the UK.

    A few months back I went to a meetup in London hosted by 3 YouTubers who are all in the vegan/zero waste/ minimalism space and I have to say I really enjoyed myself (Although I’m more of a pescitarian than vegetarian. I have tried to eat less dairy and meat since reading “The monk who sold his ferrari” in March. Which is now my favourite book btw) We went to this really cool restaurant in Shoreditch, London where 2x very famous British singers go and the vegetarian chicken tasted better than normal chicken. I’d say there was about 30 of us in total. But the 3x YouTubers have tens of thousands of subscribers between them.

    2x of my favourite vegan resources:
    * Madeleine Olivia (British YouTuber)
    * A considered Life (Vegan british blogger)

  36. Isabelle
    Isabelle says:

    What about biodynamic farming? It seems to farm with minimal inputs (fertilizers, minerals, pesticides, etc) one needs to utilize animals in multiple ways, and also farm a diverse range of crops. Basically, the most sustainable and healthy farm is the old-school family farm (which is practically exctinct, but a few people are trying to make it work again), and eating the food from that type of farm (pastures eggs, that day’s raw milk, tons of veggies) is the ideal diet for us.
    This isn’t to say that it’s practical, but it’s ideal, so it’s worth fighting for in the same way that getting all parents to homeschool isn’t practical, but it’s ideal.

    I just read “Farmacology” by Daphne Miller, MD, which talks about the parallels between healthy farms and healthy people in a really interesting way. Have you read this? I’m planning to buy copies for my cousin-in-law (who works for a farm chemical company but wants to take over my husband’s family homestead farm), my family doctor who practices in our rural community, and like 5 other people— which is to say I highly recommend it.

    Food is like education— we need to wake up to the fact that following along with what most Americans are doing is extremely stupid, and we need to take more responsibility for ourselves— growing, sourcing, eliminating/minimizing, getting back to the roots of what actually works for humans. Also, doing all that is hard fucking work and it takes time and commitment and people want to make excuses for why they can’t do it, but really they are all just excuses.

  37. Elisa F
    Elisa F says:

    We’re vegan but kinda closet about it. Everyone is annoyed by vegans and homeschoolers so double whammy here. We aren’t noble or heroic, just eating plant-based because my husband who ran 7 miles a day had a quadruple bypass at 49. I thought it would be HORRIBLE – because cheese(!) – but there are so many freaking decent substitutes and amazing cookbooks (Engine 2 is good for american fare/comfort food) and try Purple Carrot! It’s one of those meal in a kit subscription services, but vegan. We do the Tom Brady ones, and the meals are – without exception, seriously – fantastic.

  38. Dave
    Dave says:

    Penelope, don’t you think it is just your NTJ in action? Major change can be intimidating but there are points where you hold the last piece of the puzzle in your hand and know that the moment you place it, the rest of the puzzle will complete. It is not a question of finding the rest of the pieces or of making a series of additional choices, etc…everything follows from exposing your “drive” to the truth of what is. Once that is done, the next steps are inevitable. We fear to place that puzzle piece because it will unleash a whole series of changes, many of which are uncomfortable. Do we truly want that? Is the end result something we truly want? What have we not considered? The doubt is about whether or not to press the button…to “go there.” Because once the “right” path has been illuminated, it is impossible not to follow…at least I think that’s how it feels for xNTJs–speaking as an I.

  39. veganarian
    veganarian says:

    Going vegan is hands down the best decision my partner and I ever made (12 years ago). Here are some completely random facts about me:
    * I LOVED meat and cheese – fins, feathers, organ meats, tentacles…I was into all of it and I LOVED cooking and fetishized fine-dining, etc.

    * I also knew that I could not “un-know” what I knew about the meat/dairy/fish industries and found it harder to rationalize petting my beloved dogs while supporting torture and cruelty against other species (not to mention the environment – and if you are religious in any way, how about that gluttony problem? Over-production of creatures that were not meant to be artificially produced, not to mention tortured).

    *One day it clicked and we jumped in – never looked back

    *I live in Arkansas – if I can do it, anyone can. It is not a struggle or sacrifice, it is a choice – we make choices all the time. It is an empowering choice and has so many ripples I didn’t expect – health (oddly, not one of the reasons I did it), peace of mind, enjoying conversations instead of obsessing on what to order and share and taste (a limited palette breeds creativity), going from “tastes just like” to “who cares – it tastes awesome” appreciation for all kinds of vegetarian offerings

    *The food science is so off the hook these days and product selection incredible. If you live in a mid-to-big city (or anywhere – did I mention Arkansas?), or have access to Amazon or the internet, there literally is no excuse. All the great stuff is already there (meat substitutes, dairy substitutes) that are as good or better than the original.

    Watch the vids, read the books then decide. But don’t bury your head in the sand.

    • Bostonian
      Bostonian says:

      Here’s a question that I wonder about: how does a vegetarian justify owning dogs? Doesn’t owning carnivorous pets support torture and cruelty against other species?

      Dogs and cats eat about a quarter of the meat consumed in America. American pets would be the fifth biggest country in the world in terms of consumption and waste produced.

      • veganarian
        veganarian says:

        Thanks for asking. I don’t love the term “owning” but think of it as a responsibility for caretaking. We (humans) unfortunately “created” domesticated, dependent canines through selective breeding and, just as with farmed animals used for food, things have gotten out of hand both in terms of the animal’s health and over-population. Although some vegans (a minority) eschew pet ownership I see adopting dogs (“adopt-don’t-shop”) and no-kill shelter and spay/neuter support as a responsibility. Do what you can to fix the root but also the result.

        Both of my super-healthy, 11-year-old rescue dogs have been on a vegetarian diet for years. Just as the “where do you get your protein?” question often posed to vegetarians/vegans plays on myths and misinformation propagated by the industries that benefit from meat consumption, dogs – like humans – are omnivorous and can thrive on vegetarian diets. Cats are actually considered to be carnivorous so vegetarian diets for cats are quite controversial – as a non-cat-owner, I haven’t deeply investigated that but would were I to adopt a feline. Were meat-based diet the best option, I would “go there” for the sake of the cat. Dogs do fine without it.

        • Bostonian
          Bostonian says:

          Cool. I didn’t know dogs could be healthy without meat. I know American dogs eat about a pound of meat a day on average – more than the average omnivorous human.

          It’s responsible not to buy dogs from breeders, because that incentivizes people to make more dogs, when we should be reducing the dog population instead.

          I guess vegetarianism probably reduces their carbon er, pawprint too. I’ve heard that in terms of carbon output owning a dog is like driving two SUVs. It’s probably helpful to stay to the side of the ‘canine-industrial complex.’

        • Morgan
          Morgan says:

          I would love to know how you feed your dogs a vegetarian diet. I’ve been trying to figure it out for my rescue but can’t find a reliable recipe that won’t, you know, kill him.

          • Joy
            Joy says:

            If you want to know what to feed your dogs and cats, check out dogtorJ.com … he’s a fantastic veterinarian with so much research on the ideal diet. You can easily spend hours going down the research rabbit trails (for both animals and humans).

      • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
        YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

        Not all vegetarians eat the way they do for ethical reasons. Like myself. I just enjoy it.

        Ethical Vegans are what I think you are referring to in your question. And as a friend to one of those obnoxious people, they feed their pets vegan diets.

        • veganarian
          veganarian says:

          So “ethical” vegans are obnoxious and I-just-enjoy-it vegetarians are awesome. Got it!

          • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
            YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

            No…my friend who is an ethical vegan is obnoxious. Not all. I did not paint a wide brush.

  40. Morgan
    Morgan says:

    “It’s a pain and it’s no fun and ruins all the ideas I had about what is a nice way to feed a family.”

    I disagree completely. Millions of families feed their children quite nicely without serving them animal products. Learning how to responsibly and ethically feed one’s body is a matter of civic responsibility.

    There is no advantage to eating animal products. There are only disadvantages for the human body, society, and the environment.

    I’ve been a staunch vegan for over a year and ate a plant-based diet for years prior to that. Get blood tests done for your family now and in 3 months to see if there is any difference in protein levels after taking on a vegan diet. Both my boyfriend and I did this and noticed no difference in any of our levels. We eat mostly fruits and vegetables, some nuts and seeds, a few grains, very rarely soy protein, pea protein shakes for post-workout fuel when I don’t have the time for a fruit bowl with hemp and chia seeds). Most of our meals take 10-30 minutes to prepare for 2 people. You will need B complex supplements, but who doesn’t?

    Ohsheglows.com has a great resource of easy, reliable vegan recipes (she writes a lot about feeding toddlers), and both of her cookbooks are aces.

    When traveling, Google maps “vegan restaurant” in whatever neighborhood you’re in and something will come up. I’ve traveled the world using this method and had absolutely no problem finding delicious vegan food within minutes (even if it’s a salad bar somewhere). Every non-vegan restaurant I’ve gone to has a secret vegan menu. You may have to explain that you don’t eat animal products – no meat, no dairy, no eggs. Still, you will get the raised eyebrow’d, “But butter is okay right?”

    I always keep trail mix and Clif bars around for the rare times I’m not within 10 minutes of a vegan source of food.

    Do the best you can.

  41. Joy
    Joy says:

    Penelope, vegan works for some people, but not for others. I don’t have a dog in this fight, what you do or don’t do is totally up to you. In the course of becoming healthier, I’ve found two great resources that I’d like to share with you. For excellent information, take a look at the amazing website here: deniseminger.com, her review of The China Study is required reading for everyone in my opinion, and she has suggestions on how to make vegan work if you’re determined to do it. I also like thepaleomom.com, she is a medical biophysicist who has thoroughly researched every single thing she posts. The great thing about both websites is that they are looking for the truth and aren’t afraid to change course when they find it, which is rare (and why I like them). Happy reading!

  42. Christopher Chantrill
    Christopher Chantrill says:

    My approach to meat is Shakespearean:

    My Meat’s to me religious, all else doth err.

  43. Anna-Marie O'Brien
    Anna-Marie O'Brien says:

    After eating 90% plant based and organic, and at a healthy weight and in good shape – I was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago at the age of 44. I’m OK now, but I’m finding I am actually allergic to many, many plant based foods and probably was for years. I started keto-paleo-low carb and I have found relief eating pretty much ALL animal products. My vegan and vegetarian friends have suffered many bad health problems over the years – depression, infertility, etc. I don’t care what all the research says about meat – when you cut the sugar and the inflammation (and allergies to plant products are rampant, causing inflammation) you can be healthy and/or regain health. I love vegetables and I love animals. I hope I can enjoy a salad again someday. But a juicy grass-fed steak is pretty damn satisfying until then, and I refuse to feel bad about it.

    • veganarian
      veganarian says:

      Congratulations on your recovery!

      I had the opposite experience – my allergies and asthma disappeared, I have more energy and am more fit than ever and, at 56, people who knew me years ago say that I look like I’m “reverse aging” (that exact phrase several times from different people). I am not depressed (well, not any more so than others given the current political climate).

      Juicy, grass-fed steaks taste awesome. So does a gallon of ice cream. A line of cocaine probably feels great…liking and enjoying are funny guidelines for life.

      I tell people that unless at least two reasons converge, most people will not stick to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Most people assume that I “went vegan” for health reasons – I didn’t, but realized crazy benefits in that realm that I didn’t anticipate. My triggers were 1. Animal welfare 2. The environment 3. Spiritual contradictions/conflicts. Enough to keep me happily and healthily on the veg-train for over a decade.

  44. Amy
    Amy says:

    My new favorite vegan cookbook is “Chloe Flavor – Saucy, Crispy, Spicy, Vegan” – by Chloe Coscarelli. She’s so adorable and positive on the cover and in her writing, that it just makes the whole thing that much easier. Whenever I feel like it’s just going to be too hard to find something to make for a non-vegan, I find a recipe in her book that inspires me all over again. And none of the recipes are too fussy – which is important to me – they are just delicious!

  45. Heather McBride
    Heather McBride says:

    Thank you for this blog. I have been thinking about decisions I need to make – one of which is moving away from meat for health and ethical reasons.

    But, the one I am thinking about right now is the one I just found the courage to make. I have been self employed for 4 years and finally making enough to pay the bills. AND, I still look at the job postings and, sometimes, I even apply.

    Why do I do this? I am afraid of the future and what it holds. I am afraid of my ability to keep the momentum going.

    But, this last month, I stopped that behavior. I found the courage to believe in myself and my abilities. If I can do great work for an employer, I can do great work for myself. The skills I don’t have, i can learn. It is the information age after all.

    Thank you for this thoughtful blog and sharing your decisions. I have a feeling the meat eating is moving into my past too.

  46. Lo
    Lo says:

    You should visit the Woodstock Fruit Festival & go raw vegan for a week:
    http://www.thewoodstockfruitfestival.com/

    Here’s my 2 cents:
    I’m all for eating more fruits and vegetables. I personally eat meat because I lift weights and I cannot lift heavy unless I eat some meat/eggs in my diet. Now dairy/ gluten/ and sugar–I try to avoid these…to each their own :-) everyone’s body is different.

    I think an important question to ask here is:
    Should I eat ORGANIC food?

    These so-called ‘documentaries’ that are so anti-meat don’t talk about GMO (genetically modified organisms) and antibiotics in non-organic food that cause cancer in humans. That INCLUDES the non-organic food that animals consume before we consume them. Consider eating ORGANIC and drinking clean/ filtered water.
    Also, you should look into gut health. A lot of people have killed off their good gut flora with all the processed foods in the standard American diet especially from sugar and dairy. You can replace good gut flora by eating sauerkraut, kimchi, and organic apple cider vinegar–these foods are even more powerful than a pro-biotic pill.

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