The Better Half and I failed miserably at our plan to eat two vegan meals a day last week, World Go Vegan Week. We’ve been “talking about” going vegan for two years, now, and just keep backing away from taking the plunge. World Go Vegan Week seemed like a good time to transition. We decided on two meals/day because we had some open dairy products in the ‘fridge – eggs and yogurt, primarily. So we figured we’d make smoothies or scrambled eggs in the morning, and then have vegan lunches and dinners.
But I was frantically trying to finish a paper, and she was working some odd shifts, and we simply got lazy. It was so much easier to reach for dairy protein than to plan balanced vegan meals. So I’ve been trying to think about veganism differently – as a “practice” to adopt. Perhaps that will sharpen my resolve and intentionality: make me plan ahead, put some care and time into meal-planning and meal-preparation. We’ve gotten into some terrible habits in this hectic household: we eat primarily to keep from fainting, often standing up, and doing so many other things at the same time it’s a wonder we even taste the food. Maybe we don’t?
One evening I read the October issue of Harvard’s Women’s Health Watch as I ate. It includes a feature on “becoming vegetarian,” and summarizes some studies about the health effects of vegetarianism and veganism. Here’s what froze my fork in mid-air: “In the EPIC-Oxford study, 75% of vegans got less than the recommended daily amount of calcium, and vegans in general had a relatively high rate of fractures. But vegans who consumed at least 525 milligrams of calcium per day were not especially vulnerable to fractures.” I’ve read up on the importance of getting alternative sources of calcium in a vegan diet, but that study has pretty solid evidence that not enough vegans do. And the Women’s Health Watch article has another fun fact about dietary calcium: “Spinach and Swiss chard, which also contain calcium, are not such good choices, because along with the calcium they have oxalates, which make it harder for the body to absorb calcium.” Bone health being an issue for women “of a certain age” (an age I’m getting closer to) in any event, this points to an even greater need for care and intentionality in a vegan diet – for gratitude AND fortitude! I’ve been relying on Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina’s Becoming Vegan. Vegan Action is a great web resource. If any you have good tips/recipes/etc. for making a healthy vegan transition, I’d sure love to hear them. (And if you need some good health reasons to buttress the good environmental and compassion-reasons for going vegan, here’s a list.)
(Dang it. I saved the first draft of this at 12:00 a.m. and missed the Nov. 3 dateline, so I’ve already broken my NaBloPoMo “streak.”)