Posted by: susanjcaldwell28 | May 11, 2012

WHY I BECAME VEGAN

Im vegetarian 29 years, but last summer I started to gravitate towards veganism.  It was on my mind for a long time.  I knew I was happy not eating animals, but I also knew in order to lactate, a cow had to give birth every year.  I was never happy about this concept but said what a lot people say “Id find it hard to give up cheese”.  “How would I eat out again” etc etc.  Then I began to discover exactly what happened a cow so that humans could consume dairy and once I knew the truth, there was no going back.  It happened, as I said, last summer.  It was a strange summer for me.  John had lost his job the Christmas beforehand and was freelancing. I knew we were not going to have a summer holiday and the only thing I could do was bring the girls to the gym with me.  I couldn’t  send them to the gaelteacht or on courses they wanted to go on etc.  I cursed the timing of this new found interest and wished it had happened when my life was more stable, but in a strange kind of way, the wrong time was the right time.  It was a chance conversation with my children on the LUAS one day that had made up my mind. I ate mostly vegan anyway, with my mung bean dals  and curries and chickpea dishes and the girls used to say, “mum what health freak gunk are you having tonight?!” Sarah, in particularly loved pizza and pasta and Jessie ate hardly any dairy.  Anyway, the girls were having a hypothetical conversation about when we moved house and could have the space to have parties.  Jessie was asking would we have take away pizzas with meat for some of the guests  and I said “of course not, I would not allow the negative energy of death into our home, even as a takeaway”.  We went on to discuss how some vegetarians actually cooked meat for guests etc and we were not those kind of vegetarians.  The girls had been vegetarian from conception, obviously, as we bought our children up with our own values, as you do.  Anyway, I said you have to decide what kind of vegetarian you want to be, I would actually prefer to be vegan.  To my surprise, Sarah admitted that she would too.  I told her she would have to eat the type of food I ate and she said she would. Strangely enough, Jessie who hardly eats any dairy is still vegetarian but chooses to be vegan at home and its thinking about it in the longterm.

At that point, I started to panic.  I was also getting the first hormonal flush of menopause, which was actually fine in the main, and again I thought, everything is going nuts at the moment and now we are all going vegan as well, HELP! Anyway, I calmed myself down, took a few deep breaths and started to look at things rationally.  I started to investigate substitutes for products, which I will detail below and did more investigation on nutrition etc.  I swore for once in my life, I would do something slowly.  I became vegetarian overnight, I gave up cigarettes overnight and I pretty much ended up becoming vegan overnight.  I began to realise the full truth of the dairy industry and there was no going back.  Here is basically what I found out.

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE DAIRY AND EGG INDUSTRY

Ok, so Ive already said I knew cows had to get pregnant every year in order to lactate.  So how does this happen?  Well, not in a natural way, the cows are forcibly artificially inseminated every year.  Bear with me for a minute and imagine this is your daughter and before anyone starts shouting about how much more intelligent and sophisticated we are than the animal kingdom, let me just ask you something.  How sophisticated do you have to be to suffer?  How sophisticated to you have to be to love your young?  How sophisticated to you have to be to want to live?  How sophisticated do you have to be to know you are going to die?  I know plenty of stupid humans and humans who do not look after their young but we do not treat them this way. Right, so the cow is artificially inseminated and gets pregnant.  What happens after she has her baby?  The baby is taken away from her, causing grevious distress to mother and child.  Magdalene Laundries anybody?  The mother and child don’t have anytime to bond.  The milk that is meant for the baby calf is then fed to humans.  Right, cows milk is meant for calves and human milk is meant for human babies.  It is not rocket science.  It is also the reason why so many people are intolerant of dairy, it is not meant for us, and we are the only species that continues drinking milk long after we should be weaned off it as babies.  Milk also depletes calcium from your bones because of the strong presence of casein, the glue like substance in milk that does not bind adequately with the calcium, so another lie from the dairy industry.  Milk does not do a body good, in fact it is very bad for us.  So what happens the babies, well the girl calves are dragged away from their mummy and when they are old enough to get pregnant, they face the same fate as their mum, continuous pregnancies for the purpose of lactation so humans can drink a substance that is bad for them and that they are intolerant of and when they no longer can produce babies, they rare murdered for burgers (which are mainly soya anyway so could they not be fully soya then??)  to and the little boys, well bless their little cotton socks, they are either shot or put in veal cages where they cannot move and fattened up to be nice tasty meat for some cruel human.  Yes, taking part in murder and torture is cruel, just because you let a hitman do it for you does not make you exempt.

Ok, eggs, right on the subject of freerange, where people think all the hens are galloping through the meadows and hanging out with their mates at the weekend, well it simply does not happen,  the hens can be packaged very closely together and still be labelled under the status of freerange. Also, what happens to the boy hens, well, they are pretty useless cos they do not produce eggs, so they are either gassed or fed through a shredder live and shredded.  Yes, they are labelled boys or girls and separated.  What is an egg? A hen’s period, full of mucous and blood, pretty disgusting really, so there you go.  I realised as a vegetarian I was actually prolonging the agony of creatures and how cruel the dairy industry is.

DAIRY SUBSTITUTES

Another scary thing you realise when you try to cut out dairy is that it is in practically EVERYTHING, a bit like wheat, yes all the things that are bad for us are put into our food with glorious abandon and then they add the aspartame, fluoride, msg etc.  Im surprise more of us are not keeling over, but a lot of people are getting sick and dying young and the western diet has a lot to answer for. We tend to think in terms of cigarettes and alcohol and yes cigarettes are terrible (particularly because of the toxins they put into them to help addict us) and too much alcohol is bad, though the red wine is good for you (yes, I know in small doses!!) Anyway, I did find out products that could be substituted and was pleasantly surprised that so many could.

Margarine – PURE produce a soya and sunflower margarine that are both vegan.  I would advise you to try and get as many products in the supermarket as possible because the health stores are very expensive.  Tesco sell this margarine for about 1.50, whilst it is 4 euro in the health store.

Mayonnaise – Kelkin produce a good dairy free mayo and again you can get it in Tesco and Superquinn.

Ice-Cream  – Yes, soya ice cream is available and apparently very nice.  I don’t eat it myself, but Sarah gets a very nice soya chocolate ice cream in our weekly shopping from Superquinn.

Cheese – This is the hardest thing to substitute.  I have bought some really disgusting vegan cheeses that taste like I imagine petrol would!!. I found a redwoods quick melting mozzarella that is available in the health stores.  Vegan cheese will never taste anything like dairy but this cheese has a bit of texture and does not have a strong overpowering flavour.  The thing Ive noticed is the girls eat more veg on their pizzas etc. instead of cheese so instead of drowning foods in fattening cheese, they are substituted healthily with veg.  Also the use of chilli oil and black pepper more than make up for the cheese.  I imagine I would gag if I tasted some now.

Milk – Soya, almond and rice milk are among substitutes that are available.  Too much soya is not good for you because it contains oestrogen but in small doses in can actually assist menopause by providing oestrogen.

Agave – Substitute for honey.

Chocolate – Real chocolate is vegan.  The type of chocolate that is good for you because it is full of anti-oxidants and can actually assist in weight loss.  Milk was added to chocolate like it was added to many things to dilute the taste.  A lot of dark chocolate is vegan but you do have to check the wrappers very carefully. Mortons in Ranelagh do a fabulous range of vegan chocolates from butterscotch to honeycomb, raspberry and lime, all delicious and about 2.50 for a large bar.  You can get small bars in the health store too.  The thing about dark chocolate is a few squares will fill you up and its a lovely treat but as it is not so available, you tend to eat it sparingly, which is good.

EATING OUT IN DUBLIN

Ok, this was the thing that caused me the greatest fear.  We don’t eat out very often but as anyone who follows my blogs will testify, Im great at finding cheap restaurants that do good food and have a great ambience.  Some pizzas and pastas contain dairy, some don’t so you do have to check around, but so many of the foods that I adore like tapas and Lebanese and Indian foods have a huge selection of vegan dishes.  I have listed a few down here.

Milano – All Milano pizza bases and dough balls are vegan. (Pizza Express in UK)

Little Caesars Italian  (Chatham Place, Harcourt and Terenure) – Again, their bases are vegan but their pastas all contain dairy. (Lunch menu Mon – Sat 0nly 6.95 for mains and 2.50 for starters  from 12 – 5).

Ciao Bella Roma  (Parliament Street) – Well, I was very relieved to find that my favourite cheap eats place has vegan pizza bases and their penne is also vegan.  Most restaurants penna is actually vegan.  It is only places that do only fresh pasta that will have egg.  (Mon – Friday 8.95 for 2 courses plus wine and Sat – Sun 12.50 from 12 – 6).

Porthouse Tapas Bar (St William St and Dundrum) – A huge array of vegan dishes very reasonably priced.

Cedar Tree – Andrew Street, Dada – South William Street – El Bahia Wicklow Street –  Lebanaese restaurants again with a huge array of lentil, chickpea and vine leave dishes that are vegan.

Terrazzo Italia – Powerscourt Townhouse – Fabulous family run eatery at the top of Powerscourt, all pizza bases are vegan as are many pastas and they also have vegan soup. Great spot, very reasonably priced.

COFFEE

Yes more and more places are doing soya lattes and they are delish.  I would not drink soya milk on its own but it is lovely in a lattte or cappucino, hard to tell the difference really. Here are some places that serve soya. – Bewleys, The Westbury, Starbucks and Insomnia.

ALCOHL

Guinness and most stouts are not vegan, in fact they are not even vegetarian because they are filtered with fishy bits (cannot remember the technical name at the moment) as are a lot of wines but you can check online and find out brands that are not, these include: Badger Mountain, Hardys, McGuigan Estate, Yellowtail, Kumala and Long Mountain.

VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTION:

Vegans need B12 as it is no longer found in the soil.  You can get  B12 from soya and other sources, but it can be difficult to absorb, a tiny B12 tablet once a day is sufficient.  Vitamin D – apparently up to 50% of people are deficient in Vitamin D, strangely enough with the gorgeous weather we get in Ireland.  Anyway, the vegan substitute for Vitamin D  is D2, however D3 is much stronger and it is available in vegan form in a seaweed tablet.  Just check that it is vegan.

HOMECOOKING

Well I find cooking vegan much easier than cooking vegetarian, cos there are so many one pot wonders I can make and leave on the stove for a couple of days.  The stew actually tastes better a day or two later.  I make up chillis, curries etc and you can put the chilli into wraps or tacos and serve with salsa and garlic potato or brown rice. I love my mung bean dal.  The thing about these dishes is they are full of protein and really fill you up, so we don’t just munch on a stick of  celery, I swear!!. I have copied a number of my favourite protein recipes below.

Lentil Stew

Ingredients:

2 mugs of red lentils

2 onions chopped

4 carrots sliced

4 sticks of celery chopped

2 potatoes or parsnips diced in large chunks

A few florets of cauliflower

handful of fresh parsley and thyme

2 cloves of garlic

Tablespoonful  of cayenne, paprika or chilli powder – optional for a spicier stew

Method

Wash lentils thoroughly in a few changes of water until water runs clear.  This removes the high starch content from them.

Put lentils in large pot and fill up three-quarters of the way with water.  Bring to the boil.

Add carrots, onions, parsley, celery  parsnip or potato and chilli. .  Simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Serve with brown bread.

This dish is very filling and warming and tastes even better if made the day before.   You can also make enough to last for two days and just add a little water the next day.

6 BEAN CHILLI

Ingredients:

1 mug of adzuki beans 1/3 of mug of chick peas 1/3 of mug of green lentils 1/3 of mug of yellow split peas 1/3 of mug of mung beans tin of kidney beans 3 sticks of celery finely chopped few florets of broccolli and cauliflower 5 cloves of garlic 1 red onion handful of frozen peas 2 carrotts finely chopped 2 chillis finely chopped 2 tins of chopped tomatoes few mushrooms chopped.

Method.

Soak the beans overnight in a large pot of water, bar the tin of kidney beans.  Bring them to boil and simmer for 3/4 hour.

Meanwhile fry all other ingredients and mix with beans and chopped tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes. A really handy simple one pot wonder, full of protein and vitamins.

CURRIED MUNG DAL

Ingredients:

I mug of mung beans

1 mug of mixed yellow split peas and green split peas (these are optional, you can make them with just the mung beans).

1 large onion, chopped

3 large cloves garlic

1 ½ teaspoons of ground cumin

1 ½ teaspoons of turmeric

1 teaspoon of chilli powder

Ground black pepper

Juice of half a lemon.

Half a cup of water

Method

The above beans don’t have to be soaked but I do if I think of it, unsoaked about 45 mins cooking and soaked about 30 mins.. Cook the beans and set them aside.

Fry all the other ingredients and add mung beans. Bring all the ingredients to the boil and simmer for about 20 mins with the water added.

SPICY BEAN BURGERS

Ingredients

1 carrot, grated.
2 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped small
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp chilli powder
4 oz cooked red kidney beans (half a 400g tin, rinsed and drained)
4 oz cooked chick peas (ditto)
1 tbsp cooked sweetcorn
1 level tbsp flour

Method

Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion and garlic for 5 mins until soft and starting to brown.

Add the herbs, spices and flour and grated carrott and cook for 1 min, stirring well (don’t let the flour burn).

Mash the beans and chick peas with a fork. Mix in the onion mixture, the carrots and sweetcorn and mash some more. Season to taste.

Heat the remaining oil, shape the mixture into 4 burgers and fry for 5 to 6 mins on each side till done.

VEGETABLE AND LENTIL CURRY

2 tablespoons of water or veg stock

1 large onion

1 teaspoon of cumin, coriander, turmeric and chilli power or 1 tabletspoon of curry powder

2 cloves garlic

8 oz red lentils

1.25 pints of water

Mixed veg (cauli, peas, broccoli, carrots etc).

½ tin of low fat coconut milk

Saute the onion in water or stock for 5 mins

Ad the spices and garlic and cook for 2

Add lentils.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add veg and cook fo r2.

At the very end, gradually add the coconut milk.

Garnish with some toasted almonds and a sprig of coriander.

ENVIRONMENT

Producing meat is environmentally a terrible idea. The amount of grain that it takes to feed an animal and fatten it up so you can kill it and eat is ridiculous when you could just eat the grain.  It is environmentally extremely unfriendly plus we could alleviate world hunger if more people went vegan.

In conclusion, veganism is good for the animals and prevention of animal cruelty and murder.  It is good for the environment and it is good for your health.  Thank you for reading this, please try to take some of it on board and even try a few recipes and some meatless and dairy free days.  Be Kind, Be Loving, Be Happy, Be Healthy, BE VEGAN. Xxxx

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