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Veggie Morals and Common Questions

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[Seattle Vegetarian Examiner]

People choose to be vegetarians for various reasons, among the top being health and moral issues. In this economy today we begin to realize that every decision we make has a consequence and outcome that somewhere down the line probably doesn't correlate to our initial good intention.

In saying such, with the intention of being a vegetarian for moral reasons, i.e. refraining from the death of animals due to our consumption needs, where do our decisions stop being just about us and our dinner options, but about every aspect our lives touch and the catalysts thereafter.


People, especially vegetarians, stand all over the fence on making your pets vegetarian. In staying on terms with how nature wanted things, dogs and cats technically are omnivores. But in today's age of science and nutrition, we now know more about what our furry friends need as far as daily consumption values. Not only do we have more information about what makes our pets healthy, but we have also found ways to get what our pets need from vegetarian sources. Scientific America published a good article on why certain cats can in fact lead a very healthy vegetarian life, which you can read here. Before you begin your four legged family members on a completely vegetarian diet, you should always check with your veterinarian. Vegetarian Dogs also gives some useful information, although you have to buy their book to obtain it.


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[Seattle Vegetarian Examiner]

Speaking about our four legged family members and whether we should subject them to our decisions with vegetarianism in the previous article Vegetarian pets, what about the rest of our family?

When you are living with just one other person, whom we'll title here as your significant other, it's much easier to make your own decisions on what you'll eat without a huge impact on them, especially if they decide to be vegetarian with you. Although, in certain cases it can still take it's toll. Here's some issues you may want to familiarize yourself with.

Say for instance, they choose not take part in your vegetarianism. Just like in the previous article with buying dog food, would you still be okay with the notion that your household is in fact still supporting the meat industry, whether you specifically eat it or not?

You also have to keep in mind that you'll be sharing your fridge and cabinets with meat products. A vegetarian friend told me her story of when she came home to her boyfriends traditional Irish dinner preparations of a seasoned sheep's heart in her fridge. She was fine with it, and many people are, just don't be alarmed with surprises in your fridge.


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Do you have a fast way to tell people why you are vegan?

My colleague Sara Jelley, who is the Denver Vegan Examiner asked a group of vegans how they make a case for their vegan diet when they have just a minute or so to explain it. She has a great column this week in which she shares a variety of short, pithy answers; check out her Confessions article.

But once you’ve explained to someone why you are vegan, they are likely to have a few questions about the how of it all. And let’s face it—you’ve heard most of those questions so many times that it can be a trial to describe once again where you get your protein or how you know plants don’t feel pain.

A little preparation can make it easier. Memorize the quick answers below to the questions that non-vegans frequently ask so that you’ll always be on your activist toes. (You’ll want to tweak some of the answers, of course, to reflect your own vegan philosophy and lifestyle.)

Where do you get your protein?
Plant foods like grains, beans, nuts, seeds and vegetables all have more protein than people realize. Protein experts say that if people eat enough calories and eat a variety of plant foods, they can’t help but get enough protein.

But you need to eat those foods in special combinations, right?
No, that’s an outdated idea. Just eating different foods throughout the day is enough.

Do you worry about iron?
Actually vegans get more iron than vegetarians who eat eggs and dairy. I eat vitamin C-rich foods at every meal to make sure it’s well-absorbed. But vegans don’t get iron deficiency more often than anyone else.

Do you have to take calcium supplements?
Some vegans do. Some use fortified foods like soymilk and orange juice for calcium, and some get it from beans and leafy green vegetables. You have to pay a little bit of attention to calcium, but it’s not hard. After all, a lot of milk drinkers don’t get enough calcium.

Don’t you have to spend a lot of time cooking?
There are plenty of convenience foods for vegans who don’t want to cook. Most spaghetti sauce is vegan and so are vegetarian baked beans. There are all kinds of vegan spreads available and even frozen dinners and burritos. And items like veggie burgers, of course.

I couldn’t eat a vegan diet; I like fat too much.
Vegan diets are only slightly lower in fat than vegetarian and omnivore diets. The difference is that vegans eat healthy fats from vegetable oils, nuts, olives and avocados.

Don’t you miss eating cheese?
Some of the new cheese substitutes are fantastic! And I really never think about missing foods. I love good food, but there are plenty of wonderful vegan choices. I couldn’t eat a food that causes animal suffering just because it’s a food I like. Anyway, I feel like my diet became more interesting when I went vegan.

How do you know plants don’t feel pain?
Plants don’t have a central nervous system. But more importantly, we have to eat plants to stay alive and healthy. We have absolutely no need for any animal foods. And since farm animals eat huge amounts of plants, if everyone went vegan, it would actually cut way down on the number of plants raised for food.

I understand not wanting to kill animals for meat, but why aren’t milk and eggs okay?
Because dairy cows and laying hens live in horrible cruel confinement for their entire lives. The conditions are worse than anything you can imagine. And after a few years, they are shipped off to slaughter houses.

Isn’t it okay to eat cage-free eggs?
It’s better, but only by a little. It’s not just the cages; there are a lot of cruel practices on all kinds of farms, even organic ones. And all animals on all farms end up at the slaughter house after a pretty miserable life.

So you don’t even use eggs in baking?
Nope. There are so many great recipes for baking without eggs. And some good egg substitutes, too.

I can’t afford to shop at Whole Foods. Vegan diets seem expensive.
They can be if you buy lots of vegan cheese and meat analogs and other special products. But beans and rice are cheap. It’s like any other way of eating; you have to shop carefully and limit the high-priced items.

I wouldn’t know what to eat! What do you eat?
I eat a lot of the things I always ate—pasta, bean burritos, stir-fried veggies, hummus, vegetable soup, dark chocolate, peanut butter, guacamole with chips. But I’ve also tried so many new things that I love—ice cream made from coconut milk, seitan, veggie hotdogs, almond milk, curries, and lots of interesting ethnic dishes. There is a little bit of a learning curve when you go vegan. But once you find just a few things that you like, it’s much easier than you would ever imagine.

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