Food For Vegetarian Thought

As many of you already know, Jane and I became vegan because of her family medical history (cancer, heart disease, diabetes....). We don't consider ourselves animal rights activists, although we believe that cruelty to animals (and humans) should have no place on this earth. Our focus in this blog is about food, and why it makes sense to eat vegan. Occasionally, something comes to our attention, like Earthlings, which needs to be shared. But for the most part, our focus is the vegan diet.

When we set out on our vegan journey we struggled a bit. The new eating regimen required more effort than the old, eating out posed all sorts of challenges, and we weren't sure how we would define veganism for ourselves. But we were up for that challenge. Our health was more important. We also both thought that if, over time, our bloodwork didn't support the great health benefits touted by the book that inspired us: Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes (which promises more health benefits than improved diabetes, i.e. a reduction in LDL cholesterol and triglycerides), then we might look for a family farm where we could buy locally-made dairy products, because milk and cheese were the things we missed most.

Today, we stumbled across a blog post at All's Well That Ends Vegan:

Even "dairy cows" from organic and small farms end up at these slaughterhouses

No one seems to be talking about this much either. What an opportunity to tell the public that no matter what "treatment" the animals receive on the "farm", they all end up on the same trucks, for the same torturous journey on the road, to the same slaughterhouses, to the same horrific end. People who call themselves vegetarians, but eat dairy products, especially seem to be missing this point. Ugh.

And just in case you didn't already know, the trip to the slaughterhouse for those "happy cows" (and any other animal off to the slaughterhouse) is inhumane. Often, the animals are driven for hundreds of miles. They are exposed to the elements, crammed together, and not given any food or water on this trip [because who wants to deal with additional waste product?]. They're scared, uncomfortable, hungry and thirsty, and have no room to move around. To put that in perspective: we complain about flying!

So, for us, that was the end of the image of they idyllic family farm. I'm pretty sure that I can safely say Jane and I will be vegan for the rest of our lives. We might still step off the path and consume the occasional slice of real pizza (accompanied by a side order of guilt), because the rest of our lives will hopefully be a long time, and we LOVED pizza. But after having had our eyes opened to the atrocities we perpetuate as a species, we can never go back, we're vegans!


  1. This is quite a substantive post!

    I have a feeling that long before the end of your lives, you’ll be ordering great-tasting vegan pizza on a regular basis, and that will not only replace animal cheese pizza, but pretty much guarantee against “falling off the wagon.”

    Already, there are some great advances being made in vegan cheese – Cheezley and Teese come to mind. The vegan parmesans are very good, too. As more people reduce and eventually eliminate their dairy consumption, these products will get better and become more
    widely available (and probably less expensive) – which will make it easier for the next wave of people to give up dairy, and so forth. Specifically, I wouldn’t be surprised to see thousands of restaurants, one by one, adding vegan cheese pizzas to their menus over the next several years.

    There’s a very nice cooperative and communal feel to all this. Each person who goes vegan, or even half vegan, makes it easy for others to do the same – and chips away at the institutionalized exploitation of animals.

  2. Hi Gary,
    I hope/expect you’re right about the vegan cheese pizza.
    I’ve heard great things about Teese, but hadn’t yet heard about Cheesley. So we’ll have to try and get our hands on those.
    I love your point about the communal feel… It almost makes me feel less selfish about focusing so much energy on what I’m eating!

  3. Driving past the stockyards on the drive from LA to Sacramento did in the California happy cow hype for me. OK, that and reading Fast Food Nation.

    Funny that you mention pizza, we made barbequed pizzas last night. Mine was no cheese, of course, because I don’t care for the substitutes, but a really spicy sauce plus tons of red bell pepper and artichoke hearts made it so, so good. Really, greasy congealing cheese would have totally ruined it.

  4. Hi Sue,

    Your barbeque’d “pizza” sounds delicious, but as ex-NYers, that’s not pizza…

    Pizza is very difficult for us. Jane and I are both native NYer’s. Plain cheese pizza was a staple for us all our lives until we moved away (so, well into adulthood). When we go back to NY to visit, pizza is just something we subconsciously associate with being there. You go get a slice for lunch, order in a pie with your friend’s and watch TV. Friday nights are pizza nights. You’re walking up 2nd ave and get a slice of Ray’s from their take out window and continue walking along…

    And as native NYer’s we’re actually snobby about what qualifies as pizza. Domino’s is not pizza! Home-made bread/sauce/cheese concoctions may taste good, but they’re not what our brain thinks of when we think pizza.

    So, that is one of our hardest hurdles to overcome. As Gary mentioned above, vegan cheese is becoming more palatable. And he holds out hope that vegan pizza will be within our reach soon. We’re hopeful that he’s right and that someday (much sooner than later), there will be a vegan pizza even the NY contingent will embrace.

  5. Not all family farms and organic dairies send their cows to slaughter. We don’t, and we save some who would have been. We run a micro organic creamery, and our cows and bulls are as happy as a cows can be, and so are we, taking care for them and drinking and selling their raw milk. We also teach families how to do the same.

  6. Hi Swami,

    Of course there are always a few exceptions to the rule. But part of the reason we’ll remain vegans is that we don’t believe any animal needs to die for us to live. There are so many humans on the earth that in order to feed the efficiently many atrocities have to take place. My brother is quite happy with his choice to buy organic, grass-fed beef at a local farm, but even he conceded this is not a sustainable option for the entire planet.

    Glad to hear that you are treating your animals with respect. If we consumed dairy, you are exactly the type of place we would hope to be able to purchase our cheese and eggs from.

  7. I hear a lot of discussion re veganism about saving animals. I’m all for that. But what about saving human lives? World hunger is a real issue. It takes about 7-13 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of beef. If more people would “eat to live” vs live to eat, the agri used to feed the US alone would be much much smaller, less water, and less run-off, and fewer cattle would be bred. Blah, just realized this discussion is over 3 yrs old.

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