Gone Vegan

Lindsay Hutton discovers the politics and pragmatics behind a meat and dairy-free diet.

As per the warning label on any new diet regime, we’re always told to check with our doctors before going forth into any unfamiliar foodstuff planning. So, in the interests of being a Responsible Blogger, I headed over to my GP to discuss my fast approaching vegan adventure.

As a side note, I’ve always found relationships with family doctors a bit funny. Not strange, just funny. With who else can one calmly discuss the weather while he or she is essentially spelunking and peering into our most, shall we say, privileged areas?

Regardless, my doctor is a kindly, silver haired woman who has seem me through the hormonal horrors of adolescence, broken bones, bad sushi, birth control and other gripping tales of health-related tribulation. After our routine examination, I notice her snatch a look at the clock, and she then asks what could essentially be under the category of “any other business.” I break the big news.

“Well,” I say, “I’ve decided I’ve given veganism a try. It just seems like the right thing to do.”

“Oh. Hmm,” she says, with one eyebrow shooting toward her hairline. “May I ask why?” Again, I sort of felt as though I had just uncovered plans to have Belinda Carlisle’s face tattooed on my rump. She seems unimpressed, but softens a bit after a moment.

Long story short, I give her my reasons. She looks thoughtful for a moment, then we have a good chat about what she called “the iffy bits” of veganism: protein, calcium, vitamin B12 and iron (we’ll discuss these later in detail, readers). None of which, she assures me, are unconquerable with a well-balanced diet, and, as she says, even the late Dr. Benjamin Spock undertook veganism late in life, maintaining that humans did not require animal-based proteins after the age of two.

She did however, voice some concern as in the past I have presented some stress-related anemia. Confirming that I was already ingesting a good multivitamin and had done some research, she drew a few vials of blood and called back two days later to give me the go-ahead, as my levels of iron, calcium, etc, appeared be doing just fine.

In retrospect, I can’t really blame her apprehension; she did, after all, treat me for more than one mosh pit-related concussion in my mercurial adolescence.

Tomorrow’s the big day. Day One as a vegan. 

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In preparation, I thought I would introduce a few excellent resources worth looking at:

The Vegan Food Guide (an adapted version of the Canada Food Guide), as found in Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis’ indispensable book, Becoming Vegan.

PETA’s “Accidentally Vegan” lists of vegan food items. (Yes, folks: Oreos are vegan. This is weird, somehow.)

GoVeg.Com. Great, radio-friendly introduction to vegetarianism and veganism.

Next on Gone Vegan: Day One as a real, live vegan and dietitan Nimisha Raja gives us the skinny on commonly conducted vegan screw-ups.