Friday, February 11, 2011

Being Vegetarian

VeggieBite ... 
Recent research has found that vegetarians live up to 6 years longer than their meat-eating counterparts.

If this is your first venture towards being vegetarian then the "New Veggies Information Path" here on your left should make things easier for you. Just follow the eight step menu to help you on your way to a healthy, animal friendly lifestyle!
IMPORTANT: Before making any extreme changes to your diet, VeggieGlobal suggests that you seek medical advice first.
This is so you can be individually assessed for any possible nutritional deficiency you may already have - or in case you have any other health problems that require a specific diet.
Becoming Vegetarian
The Moral Maze ... what exactly defines being Vegetarian, Vegan, Fruitarian? .... And what about the new "imposter-arians"?!

Being Vegetarian - For whatever reason you are becoming veggie, you can't call yourself vegetarian if you eat any kind of fish or if you eat cheese with animal rennet.
In fact, ethically minded vegetarians don't buy leather. (Remember, leather came from an animal that once had a pulse and a pair of eyes!) However, as a vegetarian it may be argued that you could buy 2nd hand goods that contain leather. This is because you are not directly responsible for the animal's death ... it was slaughtered as a choice of the product's original owner from new, not yours. I.e. second-hand cars with leather seats / upholstery is a buying choice that hangs somewhat precariously on the edge of animal ethics for veggies. Vegetarians might also feel justified in buying leather goods made from animals, which have died from natural causes.
Also note that silk is made from creatures that were killed to make it - silkworms in fact.

So remember, to be a "un-hypocritical" vegetarian, it's:
No meat
No fish
No fish eggs (fish are killed to collect them)
No cheese with animal rennet
No wines, beers or spirits with animal-derived fining agents or colouring
No food products with gelatine (parts of hooves and legs of horses and cows)
No food with animal-derived ingredients and colours (see nutrition site)No new leather (but best none at all)
No fur
No silk
And ... if you really want to be a well-tuned-in 21st century veggie, make a conscious effort not buy foods that destroy precious animal habitats. This includes foods with palm oil - produced by flattening rain forests and in turn killing thousands of primates and other animals (see more here). Also, always check the source of organic soy based products, because again, rain forests are being wiped of the face of the earth to grow organic soy beans. (see more here)
So, with palm oil and soy, ask questions in your supermarket to find out exactly from where the ingredients were sourced ... If from the Brazilian or Indonesian rain forest areas, then don't buy it.

Being Vegan - Vegans won't eat any dairy products, eggs or honey, even though animals have not been killed to supply the product. This is because vegan ethics reach deeper into the moral maze about what kinds of animal treatment causes suffering.
In fact, dairy cows do suffer quite considerably as a result of being constantly "primed" for milking throughout their lives, so even plain vegetarians should seriously consider abstaining from dairy products. (More on this at Veggie FAQs)
Again, eggs are an area of justifiable concern. Questionable farming techniques generate far too many grey areas regarding the treatment of hens. Battery hens live in appalling, cramped conditions and have a very short life because of this. Through lack of proper nutrition and exercise, they suffer broken bones and to increase their laying cycle they never see real daylight. If you can get to being a vegan after being veggie for a while then great, but make sure you know how to replace the nutrients that you would have got from eggs and dairy. (The Nutrition Guide and The Turning Year should help on the "New Veggie Information Path" menu)

Other diet-based terms - Fruitarians don't eat cooked foods. This is also known as being on a "raw food diet" The idea is that as soon as you cook food, nearly all the nutrients such as proteins, vitamins, minerals and enzymes are destroyed - and nasty free-radicals are often produced. So, an uncooked raw diet is probably the most healthiest of all and worth a try if you can find enough time and variety of raw organic fruit and veg to sustain yourself.
There have been other trendy diet-based names hitching a ride on the veggie bandwagon in recent years ... but they are impostors! Hiss hiss! The most ludicrous of these terms is "Flexitarian" which means that one eats meat and fish sometimes and vegetables sometimes ... yes, exactly ... that's flexible, just like around 95% of the world's population. Whether one puts just vegetables on their plate sometimes or meat and fish on a plate with vegetables sometimes in no way deserves a tag which clearly aims to monopolize on the term vegetarian, but without the animal ethics. However, by being tagged as "flexitarian" - thanks to irritating, Americanized marketing gobbledegook - its an irreverent excuse for the easily swayed to ingratiate themselves with a "green-lifestyle" label. Bizarre and pointless? Yes, we know, but there you go. In fact, you could argue that such a superficial and meaningless sounding term debases the vegetarian ethic and even mocks it. Still, it's making the "flexitarian" diet book industry millions, so do they care?!
"Pescitarian" means one eats fish and vegetables but no meat. Although jargon, it's not such an irreverent word as "Flexi" - which means any-which-way - because at least there's a hint in the word "Pescitarian" for us to understand or follow its directive ... as in "pesci", which umm ... means fish (as long as we all understand Italian!).It may mean that these two newish marketing ploys inadvertently save a few animals by suggesting that they are eaten in moderation, but remember that neither of these "-arian" tags have any ethical connection whatsoever with the non-animal and non-fish diets of veg*nism: vegan, vegetarian and fruitarian. You are not indirectly killing animals if you stick to any of those three.
By the way, there's even a term "meatarian", which we don't have a problem with. At least it describes a diet choice ... They eat meat and no veg. Fair enough ... the word makes it crystal clear!

Remember, if you are just turning veggie, VeggieGlobal suggests you stop eating fish sooner rather than later, because the world's oceans are being depleted of fish at an alarming rate.

Staying on course - Choose your level of veg*nism ... and whichever your choice, you should find guidance of all kinds scattered around VeggieGlobal (and Looking-Glass) to help you on your path to a naturally aspired lifestyle!
If you want to read more about the light and shade of vegetarian, animal welfare and environmental ethics see "Cow to Clown" .

The next step (3) - on your New Veggie Information Path is the Veggie FAQs

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