Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Flesh You So Fancifully Fry

I have been meaning to blog about this for two weeks now, but I haven’t quite gotten around to sitting down and actually doing a decent, all-encompassing write-up. Once again, I am pulling the final exams card.
I recently undertook a three-week mission to follow a strictly vegan diet. I am a vegetarian [well, a pescatarian- I do have fish once every two weeks or so], but I wanted to take things a step further for the sake of finding out a few things about veganism. Is it doable, and more importantly; is it doable in South Africa? Do I feel better or worse, regarding general health? Do I lose or gain weight? Do I feel like I have more energy, or I am fatigued? Yes, these things are all affected by diet, as well as things like muscle tone, what your skin looks like [your acne has more to do with what’s going on inside than out, so those expensive products aren’t going to solve the problem on their own] and the state ofn your hair and nails. I stumbled across this website, which sends you daily tips and recipes for the three weeks.
Now, some people aren’t exactly sure what veganism entails. Basically, it means NO animal products. In other words, no dairy, eggs, meat [duh], gelatin or honey. Now, it is easy enough at a restaurant to order your meal ‘without the cheese’, for example, but the difficulty is knowing what products were made from any of the above. Things like breads, pastas, biscuits, crackers, pastries, dressings and sauces often contain animal products. And while some things are obvious, other ingredient lists have to be carefully studied. Imagine my surprise upon discovering my basil pesto had dairy in it! And besides for the fact that it cuts out the entire chocolate section, many chewy sweets have gelatin in them. Gelatin is made from collagen derived from animals’ bones and organs. Pretty gross, isn’t it? Another difficulty is that people will mock you, they will argue your decision and they will not listen to what you have to say. My father, an Afrikaner to the bone, threatened to disown me for a while when he discovered I was a vegetarian. He also arranged a braai for my birthday, combined with my vegetarian sister’s birthday. Nice one, dad.
So, what this meant is I had to carefully check everything I bought. Restaurants were difficult to eat at. Asking ‘Is your bread vegan?’ usually generates a blank stare. And I, being as busy and popular as I am, have many a lunch date. Luckily there are French fries, but of course veganism is a very unhealthy lifestyle if substitutes are badly chosen. But most bread is vegan, as well as pastas. And of course there are things like rice noodles, spinach noodles and wholewheat pasta too.
Secondly, it meant finding substitutes for what I no longer ate. The human body needs approximately 30 grams of protein per day. Things like pumpkin seeds actually have a greater percentage of protein in them than meat. Then again, 100 grams of nuts and seeds is a lot, not to mention expensive! But then of course there are other things like hummus, beans and green leafy vegetables. The thing is that people simply do not believe that there are sources of protein other than animal products.
So, I learnt a few things. Veganism is doable, but it isn’t easy. Especially when eating out [be it at a restaurant or at someone’s house], things get tricky and your options are generally very limited. I mean, even Greek salads have feta in them! Most soups [even tomato and minestrone] have milk or cream in them. You have to check everything you want to buy, because hooves and eggs can pop up in anything, as it turns out. But personally, veganism is not for me. I feel I am doing my part by being vegetarian, and I missed the following too much: milky coffee; cupcakes; croissants; Romany Creams; cheese; yoghurt [a great source of probiotics] and those Yikes! Dinosaurs! sweets. Now, these are mostly unhealthy things, but every now and then one needs a small indulgence. And many people will end up satisfying these craving with vegan-friendly junk food, like crisps and fries. So, vegetarianism and veganism are not necessarily healthier, skinnier diets. While the heart disease and cholesterol platter that is red meat is no longer a risk, things like cheese have all the wrong fats in them and can be very unhealthy. So the trick is to find healthy alternatives. Even if you do eat meat, you can try get your protein from other sources, not only meat.
The other problem is, of course, medication. Most capsules contain gelatin, and while I believe in going natural as far as possible, some of us are epileptic and such. You don't want to be skipping your meds.
It is no secret that animals suffer severely to satisfy our glutinous, capitalistic wants. Back in the day when we were Neanderthals and our baby toes were still useful, we killed only as much as was essential. Animals are subjected to inhumane living conditions and are killed with cruel, primitive methods. Calves are put in tiny cages so as not to move, keeping their muscles undeveloped and resultantly producing more tender veal. Chickens are often scalded alive in de-feathering machines. Horses are transported in trucks three times as full as they should be, trampling each other to death. Some animals never see the light of day, never graze outside and many animal feeds contain ground animal bones. Moreover, this industry is very harmful to the environment. Forests are destroyed to create grazing [killing many animals living there], and often the soil erosion caused by these grazing animals leaves that ground completely useless. Meat is transported from farm to abattoir to factory to store to smaller store to homes, and between the processes, packaging and enormous fuel emissions just transporting the meat, it is one of the most harmful industries around. You only need to see a few websites to realisejust what goes on behind the scenes of your Big Mac. But these websites also show what you can do to help, which companies you should support. I now have a great excuse to support M.A.C cosmetics. People eat too much meat. They are also generally not man enough to watch the videos that show what really happens to the animals we eat. I am Afrikaans [says she, writing in English], and Afrikaners can manage to include two types of meat in every meal! And with the hormones pumped into animals [this includes dairy cows], we are seeing a rapid rise in moobs [men developing breasts], breast cancer in men [it happens], and girls beginning to menstruate at abnormally young ages. So, what I do ask, plead, suggest is that we eat less meat. The Breakfast Show on MFM recently started a feature called Meat-Free Mondays. I think it fairly self-explanatory. If everyone went meat-free for one day every week, we could reduce cruelty and environmental harm by over 14%!
Wen you do eat meat or other animal products, try opt for that which is free-range, organic [for your sake], and locally produced. Try not to support the mass corporations like McDonald’s [I’m hating it] and Kentucky Fried Cruelty. Open your eyes, be informed and try make a small difference. Because if everyone make a small difference, it ends up being a big difference.
This song is perhaps a little extreme, but I heart Morrisey.
Heifer whines could be human cries
Closer comes the screaming knife
This beautiful creature must die
This beautiful creature must die
A death for no reason
And death for no reason is MURDER
And the flesh you so fancifully fry
Is not succulent, tasty or kind
It's death for no reason And death for no reason is MURDER
And the calf that you carve with a smile
It is MURDER And the turkey you festively slice
Do you know how animals die?
Kitchen aromas aren't very homely
It's not "comforting", cheery or kind
It's sizzling blood and the unholy stench
It's not "natural", "normal" or kind
The flesh you so fancifully fry
The meat in your mouth
As you savour the flavour
Oh ... and who cares about an animals life?


Chloe Mairead said...

That's awesome, Lize. Veg for life, I can't understand how people still eat meat with all of that staring them in the face.

tsholo said...

a friend of mine recently decided to go vegetarian because of a book she read called "The Year of Flood" by Margaret Atwood, which pretty much says what you just did. i used to be one of those people who can eat meat for each meal everyday, but a group of us decided to do meat-free thursdays...just to do our little bit...and just realising from that one day just how much meat i consume daily caused me to cut back on the daily intake...

i still eat meat, don't know if i could do the vegetarian thing, but i'm trying to cut down...

i'm told every little bit counts...

Animal Friendly said...

Veganism goes way beyond just what you put in your body. A worthwhile endeavor to share thoughts on the meat industry and all the rest of what people consume as a result of it. However be advised that veganism is a lifestyle which means having ZERO animal products or by-products in your life/home/car etc. No wool, no soap made from glycerin, not using shampoos or detergents that pollute the environment and as a result kill insects etc. after it leaves your drain. Certainly no leather shoes or bags or lipsticks made from animal fat. If a lacto- vegetarian and caring about animals in a general sense, you'd also watch for cheese containing animal rennet. A plant derivative is available. The dairy industry is by far worse than the meat industry in a cruelty sense, by the way. It's a tough lifestyle but if anyone wants to preach about being conscious of animals you really ought to do it all the way or you (generally speaking) are just a fake prophet, shooting blanks.

Lize Kay said...

Tsholo- Every bit does indeed help. Every vegetarian cancels out one meat-eater, every day you don't eat meat is less meat being eaten. And that's exactly what this post is about =) Like I said, I'm not saying the world should be 100% vegan, or even vegetarian. If you look at our days as cave people, it is [to a degree] natural for us to eat meat. But we need to cut down and your one meat-free day is making a difference.

Lize Kay said...

Animal Friendly-

I can only assume that English is not your first language, or that you in fact did not read this post properly.

I know veganism is a lifestyle. And by the way, my skin products are 100% organic, vegan, fair trade products that have not been tested on animals and are packaged in recycled plastic. Did I not point out M.A.C? I believe I did, so I think we can assume I take care to use cosmetics that are animal-free.

Secondly, I have just explained that I did my three weeks of veganism [with ZERO animal products], and I am no longer continuing with it. That is a personal choice and you can crucify me for it [but then you'd be killing a tree], but I believe my being a vegetarian who takes care to use products as friendly to nature as possible, is enough.

The only leather thing I own is my horse's bridle, because canvas bridles rubbed his fur off, which is hardly kind. Even my saddle is made from synthetic material, my numnah is made with fake sheep skin. But I guess now you're going to tell me how cruel horseriding is.

I acknowledge the dairy industry is cruel, but did I not point out I buy locally produce dairy? I have investigated frams, and found the most animal-friendly ones. I believe I used the words FREE RANGE and ORGANIC somewhere in this post.

Lastly, I am not preaching. I am no longer vegan and I pointed out that I do't expect people to be. I preach awareness, informed decisions and consciousness. Resultantly your last comment is disregarded by me and, I'm sure, anyone who actually read this post.

Animal Friendly said...

I could be childish and point out your spelling errors, but I give you the benefit of the doubt that you probably typed in haste. Why you had to be silly and make a personal comment regarding my use of the English language is a little childish. I suppose my (generally speaking) bit wasn't correctly emphasized as it was a generic comment towards people who preach the intent but don't look too closely at how vast the use of animals and their by-products reach in our daily lives. I think you are far too reactionary as my cosmetics reference wasn't a direct attack on your choices. Do only you read this blog, or at least other people too? Hence why my comment was generalized. Yes you did mention MAC, but your entire post came across as a dietary information piece rather than a lifestyle piece. Actually you're entitled to do what you wish in your spare time, but I would say keeping animals for entertainment is cruel, yes. However, the rest of the hobby seems to have conscious choices. Are the riding boots also synthetic? Just asking....

Lize Kay said...

I would, under normal circumstances, point out spelling mistakes myself but yes, I typed this quickly because I would like to waste as little time on your bombarding judgementalism as possible. Started out being childish, ending off being childish and insinuating you are not being childish... is childish.

My comment about your use of the English language was pointing out your missing the point of this post. It was intended to focus mostly on diet as a vegan. But I did incorporate other things, no? Also, are you American? I assume so, by your use of 'z' instead of 's', or can I childishly point out your error?

My being reactionary is in reaction to your being so reactionary, by the way. You said something about preaching? Hypocritical much? Or is the splinter in your eye so enormous you are now blind?

So, you're wholly against keeping pets of any sort? Dogs, cats? My horse was by no means 'entertainment', but a companion, team mate and friend, as well as a sport for me, and the most therapeutic thing I have ever undertaken. There are pictures of him under the 'Collected Memories' label. How about a horse that was rescued from a cruel home, and then kept in a warm shelter, fed a balanced diet and who lived a healthy, fit life with plenty of space, grazing and love? Who was exercised lightly for a maximum of one hour daily, was never beaten and given all the love an animal can have? No, I see. I am a horrible, horrible human being and I should be shot.

I said the ONLY leather item I own is my bridle. So, yes, my boots are synthetic.

Anonymous said...

'Animal Friendly'

Why not use your real name? You're so far up your own ass you're eating shit. Oh wait, isnt that an animal product too?

Anonymous said...

Vegans can be such nazis. You just had a house-call from the vegan police

Verdant said...

Lize, dit is goed om te hoor! Ek is 'n Amerikaner, maar ek leer Afrikaans. Ek is ook 'n vegetariër. Hey jy na die Afrikaanse vegetariese webblad, gesien? Dit is baie goed en het heerlike resepte.