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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The 30-Day Vegan Challenge

I recently finished reading The 30-Day Vegan Challenge. The book outlines in steps how to transition from a meat and dairy based diet to one revolving around fruits, veggies and grains. The book is full of beautiful food porn, a multitude of vegan recipes and easy to digest information and advice. Every time my son saw the book he'd say about the author's cover photo, "That's mommy's friend." The author, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, is a sparkling example of a vibrant, healthy and passionate woman.

As I read the book there was one phrase that made me cringe. The author referred to eating dairy, butter and cheese as animal secretions. While it's true that these foods are secretions, I think this word is gross and off-putting. I like to think, as Anthony Bourdain often says, that the dinner table is the great equalizer. As long as a restaurant offers a menu that caters to veggie and meat eaters alike, that everyone can dine together and get along. If I were to use the term secretions, I think my cheese-eating friends would feel pretty uncomfortable.

I understand that the author is trying to make the point that we tend to disassociate chicken tenders from the living, breathing animal that the crumb-covered nuggets come from. She also points out that for a cow, goat or sheep to supply milk, it has to be pregnant. These animals are impregnated yearly and their calves are taken from them immediately. Truly upsetting. The book paints a vivid picture and then offers an alternative diet along with recipes.

I didn't originally adopt a vegan diet for ethical reasons. I did it because dairy makes me incredibly sick. As I educate myself about the differences between the Standard American Diet and a plant-based one, it becomes easier for me to associate a block of cheese with an animal doped up on hormones and antibiotics, who has basically no freedom to enjoy life or even to nurse and love her own baby.

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