Vegan: All or nothing

I've never been very good at absolutism. Whether you're talking religion, company culture or even my much-loved political party, I can't seem to go "all in" (with the exception of monogamy--in my case, for--and the death penalty--against).

Age has a way of making the grey areas grow even larger. A piece decrying the evils of capitalism as promulgated by the U.S. had me in its thrall until I thought about the rights I enjoy as a woman and writer in this sumptuary of dog-eat-dog hedonism. That I can publicly hold that our free markets may be too free-ranging while acknowledging the glories of our First Amedment makes our wabi-sabi American experiment shine compared to nations who organize around higher-minded principles--God, for instance. God, in the hands of people seeking to govern, can be one dark, absolutist judge.

So yanking this harangue back to food: Anthropological data suggests that humans are omnivorous. This doesn't mean that our bodies are ideally adapted to eating meat, it just means that we've done so for a very long time. That we can eat and digest wide varieties of foods has made it possible for us to adapt to climates as warm as the Sahara and as cold as the Arctic.

In spite of the fact that I'm trying to eat a largely vegan diet, I don't think humans are natural vegans. Few beasts are strictly herbivores or carnivores. Have you ever seen a cat eat a potato chip or a dog, a cracker? Or a cow, by-products of factory farming?

A body of research (The China Study and their ilk) seems to suggest that a whole-food, plant-based diet is more healthful. Vegans, however, have to be particularly mindful to get certain nutrients, vitamin B12, mainly. But Standard American Diet eaters aren't getting some of the nutrients they need, either. Look at the national waistline and diabetes statistics.

Plagued with high cholesterol from a young age, I finally decided to try a vegan diet. I have not been perfect. Last night, for example, when presented at a restaurant with the choice of a green salad and a vegetarian pot pie bubbling in emmentaler (it was 20 degrees outside), what do you think I did?

This morning, though, I was back to my vegan chia seed muffins and coffee with almond milk; veggie burgers and acorn squash are on offer this evening.

There may come a day when I'll choose the green salad over the pot pie, but yesterday was not the day. Judge me, fine. I'm not judging myself (not too much, anyway) and I'm not judging anyone who eats meat, either. Who am I, a lifelong omnivore, to cast aspersions on your plate?

The other day, I was thumbing through a magazine, the stated purpose of which was to "help us become better vegans."                   

That's all well and good, but many of us are still struggling to become better people.

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