I left behind my vegetarian/vegan lifestyle slowly but surely over the past several years. I did so by listening an learning to both new information and my instincts. And I did so only after I found and researched local sources for dairy and meat. If only factory-farmed animal products were available, i would not be adding it to my diet. But, happily, local farms are making a comeback in many areas and I was immediately willing to learn about the benefits for my health, for my community and for the planet. (Remember this post?)
In this ongoing process, I found out that my Pitta constitution thrives on raw dairy (cools my firey nature) and that occasional meat (often also raw) satiates me in a way that vegan food never did. I’m happy to support local farmers. But, most of all, I’m happy to leave behind the processed food that served as vegan alternatives. Although I still love to cook with fermented soy products like tempeh and miso – it became harder and harder to look at things like fake cheeses, lunchmeats, “burgers” or egg substitutes as real food. Because in many ways, they are not. I don’t miss the odd taste or the way they left me craving more. Read more here from Grist Food Editor, Tom Philpott.
If you carry through the logic, it becomes obvious that processed food is far from sustainable, including, and maybe especially, vegan processed food (consider the fact that many vegan alternative products contain GMOs). Processing means loads of energy and resource use. It may also mean miles of travel.
The farther you take this logic, the healthier you will be. Raw nuts rather than nut butter? Whole grain cereals like oatmeal or amaranth rather than dry cereal in a package…..it’s all worth it, your taste buds re-learn to crave what nature serves up best, your wallet will be happier, too.
Remember, when it comes to food choices (and many other things) it’s what you do MOST of the time that matters. Stay informed. Stay open. Stay healthy.