The pros and cons of being vegan.
Veganism – it’s increasingly vocal, increasingly celebrity-endorsed and a hefty lifestyle commitment. So why do people do it? Are they sacrificing gastronomic excellence for their ethical beliefs? (We say no). Are they showing the way everyone else should eat? That’s everyone else’s decision. But in the interests of opening that dialogue, why not tuck into this vegan-friendly portion of the EcoSalon archives and see if it agrees with you?
Backyard, Egg-Laying Chickens: Flax seeds and fresh bugs, a nice plot of green grass for scratching and pecking, room to roost, and cruelty-free living in a halcyon idyll. Wouldn’t it be tragic to deny a chicken such luxury? That she happens to lay eggs only solidifies the relationship as mutual, reciprocal, and equal. Plus, a fried egg on whole-wheat toast with a side of steamed collard greens is a heaven unto itself – just don’t forget the hot sauce!
Backyard egg production: the trump card for every Slow Foodie worth their weight in bathtub-fermented kombucha.
Chicken hatcheries, where most people can access chicks, are the avian equivalent of puppy mills. Males who don’t produce eggs are often buried alive in dumpsters. Lucky ladies who survive are thrown in boxes and shipped via USPS to their new homes, often packed with extra chicks as “packing peanuts,” since it’s assumed a few will die in transit.
And if you do have all the resources to give hens a safe haven (which is no easy task), they only lay eggs for a few of the ten or so years they live. Would most people continue to expend the effort and resources to keep them as revered pets? Considering the cost-benefit analysis of owning chickens who don’t lay, we’re guessing they’d end up in a coq au vin with a side of quinoa and local kale.
Compound this with the fact that unwanted male chickens are often abandoned at animal shelters, and raising one’s own chickens suddenly seems a lot less ethical.
Originating in South America, this plump red herbaceous perennial is rich in nutrients like niacin, potassium and phosphorous, antioxidants like lycopene, anthocyanin and carotene, and vitamins A, C and E. Tomatoes can add a juicy shot of flavor to a variety of dishes, such as salads, sandwiches and pasta.
After the last frost of winter has thawed, pick a spot in your yard that receives ample sunlight and test the soil’s pH level – you want between 6 and 7. (To increase the Ph level, add lime. To decrease it, add sulfur.) Spread compost over this area and mix it with the soil. Dig a hole for each seed, leaving at least a foot in between for growth, cover them and firmly pat down the soil. Water them with a spray bottle a couple times per week.
Watercress: This pungent perennial potherb typically grows near bodies of water, so make sure the water source is clean before consuming it. Since watercress can be eaten raw, all you have to do is cut the stem off and rinse it with cold water.
Just as there are political and religious divisions, there are opposing groups in the world of sustainability. Each believes they are more logical and justified than the other. I experienced an unexpectedly unpleasant exchange recently that made this reality plain as day. On the phone with a friend and animal rights activist, I hazarded a casual question: “Vegan isn’t really sustainable, is it?”
Her response was chilly to say the least.
And here I thought I was simply stating what we all know. Perhaps foolishly, I went on to share that I’d had a revelation just that morning that vegan fashion, comprised of mostly man-made materials, couldn’t possibly be eco – at least not exclusively so. How many of these vegan companies truly pay attention to good earth stewardship and use non-petroleum based materials, organic cottons and non-toxic dyes?
Today, there is a cornucopia of websites, such as Vegan Nutrionista, which can walk you through the food pyramid for maintaining good a good intake of grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and oils – and staying fit as a result. When we talk to teens about their bodies, we focus on health and not weight to prevent eating disorders. We do this for a reason.
As a no-turning-back vegetarian since my teenage years, I’ve never taken a long-term lover whose moral and philosophical compass regarding animal rights and welfare didn’t approximate my own. Were any of these shy and smiling boys so inclined from the outset of our relationship? No, absolutely not. But they were uniformly intelligent, curious creatures with the good sense to reexamine their ethical presuppositions and accordingly recalibrate their practical, day-to-day affairs to reflect an evolving value system.
My mission to change the hearts and minds of carnivores one-guy-at-a-time? Accomplished. Well, perhaps not quite. After breaking up, all but one, lone ex-boyfriend shortly, summarily abandoned his conscientious ways in favor of fried chicken. Gross. Hey, what better way to work out some breakup angst than to stick a fork in it? Revenge, for some, may be a dish best served medium-rare.