Eating vegan this past week—getting to try a whole different way of eating—has been a blast. It’s kind of like walking in someone else’s shoes for a while to get a different perspective. I’ve learned a lot of new information. I didn’t radically alter my eating habits. To me taking away chicken and dairy weren’t really tough decisions to make since I already ate a lot of vegetables and fruits and drank a lot of plant-based milks to begin with. You won’t find a blog post about how much energy I’ve gained from doing this or how my poop has changed and how I go five times a day. My poop is none of your business. My energy levels were through the roof before starting this project and they’re the same. What you will find in this blog post is the information I’ve gained along the way.
As always, information is a powerful thing. Information creates knowledge and knowledge creates power. Power to make a decision on where you stand on a particular topic. After eating vegan for a week and gaining more knowledge on the subject, I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned and some of the issues I’m not sure where I stand on yet.
The best way for me to learn about something is to actually do it. It’s how I learn best—through experience. I probably get that from dancing. Dance is all motion-based. You can be a really good teacher and describe how to do something but at the end of the day you also need to be able to do it. The best way to learn how to do something in dance is to do it over and over and over until you have it right. Mistakes get made in the process, but in the end you have to make those mistakes to get better. It’s called the learning process. Different people learn different ways. I have a hard time reading about something and then making it happen. I have to go and physically do something to really feel I have a full grasp on it. I’m a spacey reader. Reading directions are hard for me because I don’t remember what I’ve read and then get frustrated. My point is the best way for me to learn about being vegan was to go to the grocery store and start reading labels. For me, part of the process of learning about veganism is doing this project.
Was I 100% vegan this week? No. I found that out through experience and references from friends.
I was about to eat a few Jelly Belly jelly beans at my fiance’s office. It had nothing to do with health—I just wanted something sweet. I stopped myself from eating it, though, because I started to think about what was in jelly beans. I read (believe it or not) that Jelly Belly’s are vegetarian but not vegan. Jelly Bellys have no animal derivatives (like some jelly beans made with gelatin) but they are coated with a beeswax coating to make them shiny but also non-vegan.
I drank non-vegan wine. My “Very Vegan Holiday” party friend warned me today that not all wine was vegan. I thought wine was made from grapes. It’s plant based and aged in an oak barrel. What’s not vegan about that? My friend gave me a website to check out to see if the wine I was drinking was vegan or not: http://www.barnivore.com. I went there and inputted my wine brand: Oliver Wine. I turned out not to be vegan. Some wines are vegan and some are not. Most in fact are not. Here’s what makes most wines non-vegan: the ingredients in the fining process. What’s the fining process? It’s a process of removing the sediments from the wine to make it more palatable in our mouths. The ingredients that are used in the fining process are animal derived. Dried bull’s blood was formerly used in the fining process. Currently used are sturgeon’s bladder (a.k.a. fish guts), egg whites and in some cases casein and yeasts from dairy products. The wine is filtered after the fining process so the fining agents are removed. However, the wine is touched by these fining agents which are animal-derived which makes it not vegan; however, you could also look at it as the wine itself is plant-based, and these agents are removed from the wine, so ultimately the wine is vegan. It depends on how you want to look at it. There was one article I read that mentioned using the moon’s gravitational pull to de-sediment his red wine (I think—it was honestly hard to tell what he the moon was supposed to be doing in the process) thus making it vegan.
Another reason I assumed wine was vegan was because I saw my vegan friend drinking it at the vegan party I attended. I even had some Oliver wine while I was there. Someone brought a bottle as a gift (and no it wasn’t me). There were a lot of people there that night that brought wine. Everyone else was drinking wine. I love wine. I had a glass of the Oliver wine that night at the vegan party because it was one of the sweeter wines that were there. Would a truly vegan party monitor the wines that are brought in? Clearly no. My point? Where do you draw the line? How extreme do you take it?
Here are two more examples: Pete was looking online on veganism and stumbled upon one about charcoal. I never knew charcoal could be non-vegan. What makes charcoal non-vegan? Animal bones. Apparently animal bones can sometimes be used in charcoal. Also, refined white sugar is something you’d think is vegan but in some cases it’s not. To make it white, sometimes it’s processed with animal bone char. The charcoal is used to remove color, impurities and minerals from sugar. The charcoal is not in the sugar but is used in the process as a filter. Thus by a process-based definition of vegan, refined sugar may not be considered vegan. It’s the same thing with the wine.
In all, the process is the ultimate question and where do you stand on the issue? Is wine vegan? Is refined white sugar vegan? Is charcoal vegan even though you’re not going to eat it (hopefully) and use it to prepare your food. The reading I’ve done has led me to the conclusion for now that it’s up in the air and the individuals decision to make. Food for thought.