By November I was pregnant. Before I really had my head wrapped around eating vegan and feeding my family vegan I was pregnant and trying to figure out what I wanted to eat AT ALL… let alone had the energy to make in that first trimester. It was a rough few months.
I don’t consider myself to BE vegan, because I still am 100% comfortable eating local unpasteurized honey and we purchase both wool and leather goods from ethical sources rather than polyester and synthetics. Why am I okay with those things? Well, if you’re eating fruits & veggies from the grocery store, you’re participating in the ‘abuse’ of bees anyhow as hives are trucked around the country to pollinate all those commercial fields. So to then say I won’t eat honey because it abuses bees is just inconsistent to me. I buy my honey from a farmer who lives around the corner and consider it a far healthier and more ethical source of sweetener than say cane sugar or beet sugar shipped halfway around the world.
What about wool and leather? Polyester and other synthetics are petroleum based. Oil has a HUGELY negative impact on the environment. If we keep destroying the planet in the search for more oil, there will BE no habitable planet for the animals to live on. So I choose at times to buy wool goods from local farms and leather goods via the Canadian Native peoples (ie through the Reserve closest to us, or from Canadian Aboriginal owned companies), so that I can use them for a LONG time, and they can biodegrade fully when the useful lifespan is eventually reached.
Now I’m well into my second trimester and starting to get my head around vegan foods a little more. I’ve also found myself having moments where I’m craving say Reese Peanut Butter Puffs Cereal, AND also craving the local aged cheddar in the fridge for my husband. I eat essentially vegan, but my husband and 4 yo still love meat eggs and dairy. We only have wild game in the house for meat but I do keep dairy & eggs for them because they both REALLY missed them. When Levi is older he can make his own choice about what foods to eat. Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows has some great thoughts that I really appreciated hearing from someone who is both a vegan mother and whose entire business is based on a vegan diet, about raising kids vegan. Anyhow... the Reeses' cereal might be vegan, but it certainly isn’t real food, plant-based, or remotely beneficial to my health. The cheese on the other hand IS a real food, so in terms of MY health and growing a healthy baby, I consider the cheese to be the healthier alternative even if it isn’t the most ethical alternative. I’ve been pondering this for a while now as I feel a little bit guilty every time I ask my husband for a bite of his real ice cream or pizza. I don’t want to just say I’m vegetarian though, because the assumption is then made that I will gladly eat large quantities of dairy and eggs. If I’m going to splurge on eggs or dairy I want that to be my choice, based on what feels right for my body at the time.
I finally hit on my solution last night…. I’m describing myself as 80% vegan, 20% vegetarian. Most of the time, I choose to eat vegan. When eating with extended family, I bring vegan dishes so that I have alternatives. When there are great vegan options on a restaurant menu I choose them. And 20% of the time I splurge on eggs or dairy - when the substitutes just won’t do, or when it is the overall healthier choice given my cravings in the moment.
Sometimes, even though I eat vegan most of the time, I really want a taste of my sister-in-law’s absolutely divine homemade mac & cheese. Does that make me a bad person? Well some might say so ;) But I don’t. So I’ve settled for now on 80% vegan. I know that this 80/20 sort of deal doesn't make any sense to true vegans. Or to true vegetarians. Or to meat eaters. Or to organic real foodies. Or probably even to my family. lol. Even though I'm not "100% vegan", every vegan meal I eat still makes a difference to the planet and that counts for something.
Thanks to my friend Rachel for reminding me of that fact as we discussed the deliciousness that is real ice cream, and also to Beth Ricci of Red & Honey who wrote the fabulous post "Dear World: Food Is Not A Moral Issue".