Hello and welcome to "Where the Veggies Are"! My name is Lauren and I live in Southwestern Ontario near Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I'm in my late 20s and I have been a vegetarian for my entire life. I was raised as a vegetarian by my family, which was certainly not considered "the norm" in the early 1980s.
Back in the 80s, literature began to emerge about the health concerns of eating a "meat and potatoes" type of diet. The public was also becoming more aware of cruelty towards farm animals and the environmental destruction caused by the meat industry. Needless to say, my family chose the path of vegetarianism just after I was born. I was always given the choice to eat meat when I was old enough to make that decision for myself, but I really had no inclination to start eating meat - having never eaten it, it didn't even seem like food to me. I've never been able to make the disconnection between a living animal and the deceased one that is on a plate. Plus, I have always been very interested in living a vegetarian lifestyle and the more that I discover about the meat industry, the more that I would never want to support it.
While I was raised as a vegetarian, we were the "lacto-ovo" type, meaning that we ate dairy and eggs. This had always been the case until a couple of years ago when I started having some stomach problems. At first, I had no idea what could be causing me any trouble, but I eventually traced it back to yogurt. Anytime I ate yogurt, I would get awful stomach pains. Furthermore, I knew that if I ever drank a big glass of chocolate milk (I was never the type to enjoy drinking plain milk on its own), it would cause me great discomfort as well. I have never been formally tested for lactose-intolerance or dairy allergies, but it was enough to make me steer clear of these foods entirely. As soon as I gave up yogurt and milk, my tummy woes disappeared.
With that said, I was still eating smaller amounts of dairy baked into foods, cheese didn't bother me, and I've never had any trouble with eggs. However, when reading about factory farms and the meat industry, it doesn't escape me that animals are not being treated properly within the dairy industry. Cows are being kept constantly pregnant for their milk, baby calves are taken from their mothers right away and put straight into the system as veal or future dairy cows, and animals are being confined in small areas without having the freedom to graze the grassy fields like nature dictates. Chickens are being made to produce more eggs than ever before and are kept in tiny crates unable to move, growing into the cage.
There are big problems within this industry and it made me give up dairy and eggs completely two years ago. I learned all about various dairy substitutes - Earth Balance margarine, soy milk and almond milk, Vegenaise and Daiya cheese. I was doing fine for about five months....then Christmas arrived and everything went out the window! Soon enough, I was gorging on milk chocolate, baked goods, cheesy lasagna and all sorts of treats.
A year and a half or so passed and I primarily cut dairy out of my diet again while at home, but still consumed plenty of dairy when I was at restaurants and places outside of the house.
Last week, I visited Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY (more on this in blog posts to come!). It was an amazing experience to visit with the animals and witness the wonderful work that is done at this farm animal sanctuary. It was such an incredible personal experience as I finally decided, enough is enough, I need to give up my reliance on dairy for good. I need to become Vegan.
This blog will mark my journey from vegetarianism to veganism, the foods and recipes I discover, my troubles and potential pitfalls, my interests in the environment, and living a lifestyle that is healthy both personally and for the planet. I look forward to providing you with a window into my world and will hopefully encourage others to follow a similar path.
Nice to meet everyone, please feel free to introduce yourself in the comments below if you've stumbled upon my blog!
(originally posted in 2011)