Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Vegan Philosophy (and Some Delicious Olive Cream Cheeze)

I was planning a simple post tonight. Just a photo of some yummy olive cream cheeze spread and a few words on how tasty it is. But a few anonymous comments on my last ramen post inspired me to explain why I'm vegan and what my priorities are.

One comment warned me that a wax coating on some ramen noodles can cause cancer. This claim originated from a hoax email and the claim has been dis-proven (see the Snopes article here). But just so you know, I've never been one to stress over negative health claims, whether research backs them up or not.

Another commenter claimed that Morningstar Farms chick'n strips were not vegan because they contained GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Just because a product contains GMOs doesn't make it un-vegan. It may make it bad for your health and the planet, but so long as the food is animal by-product-free, it's vegan. And those strips are definitely vegan.

You see, I am a vegan because I love animals. I don't eat animals or their by-products because I practice a life of compassion for all living beings. I believe eating meat is immoral. That is the ONLY reason I'm vegan. I do care about my health, but I also care about enjoying life and eating things that make me happy. Occasional fried foods, processed junk food, candy, sweets .... these are things that make me happy.

But don't get me wrong. Ninety percent of time, I eat uber-healthy — whole grains, no high-fructose corn syrup, no soda, as little refined sugar as possible. But when I want to splurge, I do. If I spent all my time stressing about this health claim or that health claim, I'm fairly certain it would suck all the fun out of life. And we're only here for a short time, so let's live it up. Laissez les bon temps roulez, right?

That being said, I do also try to avoid GMOs most of the time. Not for me, but for the planet. But I'm not going to deny myself a treat because it MIGHT contain GMOs.

Anyway, that's all I wanted to say. I totally respect health vegans. I get it. But that's just not me. It's a big topic, but I didn't want folks to worry when I post photos of processed food or healthy no-no's.

For example, my breakfast had a little processed food thing going on. I had some leftover Tofutti Cream Cheese, but I didn't want plain cream cheese on my bagels. So I looked for mix-in ideas in Vegan Brunch and found this idea for Olive Cream Cheese:

It's schmeared all over a Whole Foods brand sprouted wheat fiber bagel. Olives may seem weird for breakfast, but I love those salty little things so much, it doesn't matter what time of day they end up in my mouth. It was like cheeseball for breakfast!

What's your vegan philosophy?

31 comments:

Mihl said...

Geez, I am sorry you had to deal with those comments. You should't have to justify your eating habits on your blog. I like your style, keep doing what you do!

Btw, I think Olives are great for breakfast!

mybrandnewlife said...

I'm with you Bianca.

I avoid animal products to be kind to our furry friends too, and whilst generally I eat healthily, I'm not going to beat myself up if I have a little something 'less healthy' occasionally.

The choice is ours and ours alone. And let's remember, being vegan we're ahead of most of the world when it comes to healthy eating anyway. We can afford a little bit of cheekiness every now and then.

Cheers
Keith

JL goes Vegan said...

This is a really great post. I confess that I started out vegetarian for animals but vegan for health...but it sure didn't take me long to jump 100% into the "it's about the animals" camp. Knowledge = power.

I'm amazed by the people who think that because I'm vegan I only eat "healthy" sandwiches. Nope, I can scarf down a jar of vegan queso and have been known to throw together a vegan marshmallow sandwich. AND I try to eat healthy. I can be both.

Rick said...

fyi snopes is targeted disinformation. check out who funds it. it's used to make ppl who trust "authorities" look past otherwise harmful and often times truthful info.

knowledge is power, do your research.

once a person does as much research as i have, it's impossible to just turn on the blinders when eating unhealthy food. i just can't do it. i still splurge, but it doesn't mean refined sugar or gmo's or msg or aspartame...i just can't do it.

i don't agree with a couple comments from both yesterday and today, but hey, that's what makes life special. we're all different and we all get freedom of choice, which makes all the difference.

kudos for your honesty.

rick

Susan G said...

I love olive cream cheese on cinnamon raisin bagels. Love that sweet and salty combo.

VeggieLow said...

olive cream cheese sounds dreamy. must try.

my vegan philosophy is similar to yours. i am mostly about animals, somewhat about the planet and a little about health. we are bombarded every day with chemicals in the air, in food and in buildings, so enjoying food (in a compassionate way) is key - a few vegan cupcakes or some ramen noodles are essentials to that brain balance that is key to happiness :)

recently i've met a few vegans really bother me. they are constantly telling people what foods have carcinogens or what foods aren't vegan because of some dough conditioner that has a remnant of bone char in it... etc. it really frustrates me because when people choose to eat less/no meat or animal products, they are doing really really good things, and they shoudl be praised and encouraged, not denigrated. so i've tried to tone down some of my comments about what is and isnt vegan lately. i've stopped beign that person who asks to see bread ingredients at restaurants... i'm choosing to go to a place that doesnt cater specifically to my vegan-ness, so i'm not going to cause a scene by being preachy.

i get some sideways glances from my over-the-top vegan friends, but i feel more content and i feel like i make more of an impact on the omnivores in teh room by not making them feel bad or angry. anyway, that's me. if it means i'm only 99.7%vegan, i can deal w/ that :)

great post - keep it up!

Brian Woz said...

Thanks for this post! It's cool to hear other vegans share why they choose to eat animal-free. As you know, I recently got personal about my reasons for practicing veganism on my blog a few posts ago (thanks again for your comment BTW).

I do it mainly for my health, but have come to grow intolerant of animal cruelty and the effects factory farming has on the environment.

panda with cookie said...

heh heh. My vegan philosophy is cookies. Cookies, my friend.

*Autumn Tao* said...

Your philosophy is extremely close to mine, more than any othher blog I read. I enjoy vegan junk food on occasion. And I do it for the animals too. I think you rock. You are articulate, fun, and honest. Keep it up mama.

Alan Roettinger said...

I agree with Mihl: You shouldn't have to justify your eating habits ANYWHERE! However, I think it shows both openness and class that you do, because this helps people to understand a little more, and keeps a conversation going that eventually will bring people together. Well done.

On the other hand, I do want to throw my two cents in for the health aspect of a vegan diet. If we're about compassion for all sentient beings, we mustn't forget human beings (ourselves). Just as we would object to feeding unnatural and harmful stuff to animals, I think we should stand up for our own rights too, and insist on the very best when we eat. As with all things, compassion and kindness begin and end with the self.

I agree with you 100% about eating whatever brings you joy (which is the whole point, let's face it). But speaking as a 58-year-old, I highly recommend taking the best care possible of your health now, so you can continue to enjoy it all the way to the end ;-)

Babette said...

Great post, Bianca. I think I agree with everything you said.

Being vegan doesn't necessarily mean being healthy.

I wish I always ate healthy vegan food, but I'm not there yet! I enjoy junk good.

When I was a vegetarian AND a smoker, people were often surprised to learn I smoked cigarettes... hehe

That breakfast looks great, but I'm not a big fan of olives though. I bought a tub of french onion tofutti cream cheese last weekend and I finished the whole thing so quickly!

racheyalex said...

everything in moderation, even moderation ;)

almost all the time I eat high raw, ultra-healthy vegan food, but like you, I think some occasional junk food is not only ok but damn fun. if I overdo it I can immediately tell, my tummy protests! but everyone needs to eat what makes them feel best (mentally, spiritually, and physically)- we all have our own journey on this planet!

that said, I could never eat flesh again, for moral reasons.

excellent dialogue here btw!

ward said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dreaminitvegan said...

No one can attain perfection and I don't think being vegan is about being perfect. There are always going to be those people who are finger pointing. Oh well.

Personally I've been trying to live a healthy life for years due to my families health(dad's, aunt's, grandparents). Going vegan was the next step to obtaining even better health but it was at that time I found out about how animals were treated and how our choices also affect the planet.
Do I eat a sugary treat now and again? Sure. Do I have an alcholic drink now and again? You bet I do!

missmuffcake said...

I buy organic, I support local farmers, eat fruits and veggies every day and I am vegan for the animals.

I eat whole grains, good fruits and veggies but I buy snacks and vegan candy. I spent years starving myself to death to be the American size 2 dream...After years having anorexia I just ate all the vegan crap I could.

Now I am conscious of what I eat without stressing over what is right or what is wrong.

Holy Moly said...

I have the same philosophy as you! I find it hard to debate with people about veganism, because, for me, it's a simple "I like animals and I don't want to contribute to their misery."

Those comments (whether from vegans, veggies, or omnis) tend to be rooted in the idea of "being perfect." Omnivores grab onto 'inconsistencies' as a way of devaluing your judgment and, at least in my experience, vegans who are about perfection need to get some perspective.

sunshinevegan said...

I can not stand people who see themselves as "vegan police" or "better" vegans,there is no perfect vegan. No matter what the way you eat and sustain yourself is going to have some impact on animals. Weather they are loosig their habitats for farmland or getting run over by tractors that farm the land it would be impossible to be a "perfect" vegan. Just doing the best you can and listening to your body is all that really counts! You don't have to put a lable on your eating habits or justify them to anyone else. Good for you for sticking up for yourself!

Tapioca said...

This looks so delicious! I love your blog, and you're adorable! :D




Please visit www.tapiocasoul.com for more great vegan recipes!

kate in nyc said...

i recently became vegan, mainly for health reasons. i am loving it because i still enjoy variations of my favorite processed foods and "meat" but without the problems i was having before when my body was literally suffocating in animal waste. i have been reading your blog for sometime (even in my pre-vegan days) and always enjoy your fun, relaxed take on being vegan. i identify with your healthy/unhealthy days and applaud your positive attitude and energy toward living (and eating your way through) life with no regrets. keep goin' girl!

Pat said...

Awesome post! You'll all want to read this article:

http://www.peta.org/living/vegetarian-living/accidentally-vegan.aspx

The Edgy Vedgy said...

Bianca,

i'm in total agreeance with with your vegan philosophy...maybe because I hold the exact same one. I just wanted to let you know that your blog is definitely an inspriation to me and helps me out with great vegan ideas. I'm heading to Memphis in two weeks from here in Nashville and I'm SUPER excited to try some of the restaurants you've blogged about.

Jessica said...

Nitpicky comments are the worse. Olives are awesome.

Sharan said...

Bianca,

I think this is a wonderful post. To begin with, it is quite uncomfortable when people throw the "so why are you vegetarian/vegan..." question. To be honest, we are all perfectly capable of deciding what to put in our bodies. Sometimes it appeals our palate and sometimes its just good for you. Thank you so much for doing this post. You go girl!

KTBuns said...

It's like you crawled into my mind! Thanks for this post, Bianca... people chose veg*n lifestyles for many different reasons.

It's difficult for me to understand those who value health over animal rights (I'm currently struggling with this while speaking with a friend who's going to try vegetarianism), but all perspectives are valid as long as they don't become spiteful of others, I suppose.

Thanks for the post!

John McDevitt said...

You took the words right out of my mouth. Amen.

morganbb said...

I totally agree with your philosophy! When I first decided to go vegan I tried to be all uber healthy (like eating super foods from the kind diet) and quickly my life revolved around being so picky about my food- it was time consuming & I wasn't enjoying my food. And I LOVE food! Yeah I lost a ton of weight being "uber vegan" but I wasn't happy. I now know the love of vegan cookies and all the fantastic faux meats out there, I'm still vegan & I'm enjoying life. My primary reason for being vegan is my love of animals as well- yes I care about my health & environment too but those were secondary reasons for becoming vegan. Keep rocking out Bianca!

thedalyn said...

Interestingly, I got interviewed for a show on food trucks yesterday and veganism came up. After the interview, I cringed knowing that if I make it on the show, the vegans are going to take issue with some of my responses. Fact is, you can't please them all and I'm a bit tired of having to justify my eating habits--even to those who are vegan.

Erin said...

Great post, Bianca! You certainly shouldn't have to explain your choices to anyone, but those anon comments can be grating. I first went vegan for preference/health reasons, but have definitely come around to the ethical side. I'll probably never be an animal activist or anything, but I can get down with being kind to animals and the earth!

nadiwoo said...

For me it's a simple economic equation-I don't want my money to go to people who use animals as tools, because animals are not tools that are inferior to humans and exist for us to use. Even if an animal was treated well its entire life and died of natural causes I still don't want to eat it, same as how I would not want to eat a human.

It's the same as not buying many clothing brands, because I don't want my money going to companies that exploit child/third world workers.

I guess for me it is just not using other living creatures for my own base pleasures (like palate and ego), and that includes humans.

That having been said, I also really really appreciate the health and cost benefits I've experienced since going vegan! :D

nadiwoo said...

Oh, and if you slapped some capers on that olive concoction it would be my idea of heaven! Olives + capers = HEAVEN!

Get Skinny, Go Vegan. said...

I think I am getting hubby to go to Whole Foods today to buy some GF bagels, olives, and Tofutti. Which I almost never eat, but CRAVING this stuff now!!

I also am TOTALLY vegan for the ANIMALS!!!! But, over the last decade I have slowly eaten healthier & less processed food. So now I do not buy Morningstar & try to buy organic, in general. I will eat that stuff when I'm out or if hubby brings it home, but I do try to buy less packaging. But for sure, I'm vegan for the animals.

But it is a time when the planet & our health is in crisis so think these are also good reasons to advertise veganism also.

But I think that even packaged vegan food is still better for our health & planet than cow.