Originally Posted by Shotgun Opera
However, from what I've seen, it seems that Veganism takes more time, energy, and money than most people are able/willing to devote to their diet to really follow it and stay healthy.
I've been experimenting with a mostly vegan diet and a leaning-toward-vegan lifestyle for the past six months, and I have certainly invested a lot of time, energy, and money in the endeavor. However, I feel that the time, energy, and money has been very well-spent, and at no point has it felt like work.
Part of what makes it fun for me is that I have some real-life friends who are not only vegan, but also new to it, so we've been able to explore it together. Some of these are my co-workers at the restaurant, so we share ideas for how to modify our free employee meals to come up with interesting new vegan combinations. One of my friends actually agreed to try a "half-vegan" diet with me; our original plan was for each of us to reduce our consumption of animal products by 50%, thereby making one whole vegan between the two of us. (Kind of silly, I know, but we were both caught between feeling like we had to do something and the fear that we just weren't up to going whole hog. Sorry, that was a terrible, unintentional pun.) To our surprise, we found it much easier and more exciting than we'd thought it would be, and we've both taken it much further than we'd planned. Every Tuesday night, we take a dance class together, then go back to one of our apartments to try out a new vegan recipe or two. We both can't get over how varied, tasty, and most notably, colorful
our dinners have become! Since you're looking into this on the suggestion of a friend, you'll probably be able to enjoy a similar bonding ritual.
I was never much of a cook before, and I used to be pretty ignorant about nutrition in general, but I've enjoyed the learning process tremendously. I'm definitely eating better, and I have more energy than I used to. How much of this can be attributed to the vegan diet per se, I don't know, because I'm also eating a lot less processed food--I didn't just trade Cheetos for potato chips; I cut my chip consumption about 80% and filled the remaining 20% with things like homemade baked apple cider and sea salt kale chips, which I'm eating right now, as a matter of fact.
How do you avoid nutritional deficiencies and other medical complications that can come from a lack of nutrients that meat provides?
I eat a wide variety of plants and fungi, and try to get some fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes in my diet every day. I also take a B12 supplement once a week, when I remember. B12 deficiency can cause scary neurological problems, but you only need a few micrograms a day, and you don't need it every day--your liver can store several years' worth, so it's not an immediate danger. The one aspect of nutrition that probably taxes my attention the most is making sure I get enough calories. I'm one of those naturally slim gals, and within two or three weeks of giving up cheese, I'd lost five pounds on a frame that could maybe spare seven pounds before you can count my ribs. So I've had to really work on getting lots of nuts, avocados, coconut milk, olive oil, and other fatty vegan foods into my meals, plus lots of complex carbohydrates. This is one of those problems for which I get zero sympathy from my omnivore friends. ; )
Second, how can you totally replace all animal products with non-animal? I am a welder by trade and one of my key pieces of equipment is a leather jacket. Its made of thick treated leather that protects my skin from everything from UV damage to pieces of white hot steel falling on it. In the latter case it buys you a few seconds to get your arm out. Now there ARE plastics and treated cloths you can get for this purpose. But often they are extremely expensive and have a tendency to melt when exposed to high temperatures and also dont stand up to copious abuse well. In this case, leather really is the best and most cost effective material for the job.
As others have said, no one is perfect. If you can't find a synthetic that will do this very important job as well as your leather jacket, I'll defend you against anyone who tries to take it away. I've drawn a similar line when it comes to testing on animals; I'm pretty sure I can find shampoo that didn't inflict any suffering in its research and development process, but if I ever need medicine that required the deaths of a few puppies, well, I'll feel bad, but I'm still going to take the medicine.
Also, how are you really minimizing your impact on the animal kingdom? To grow crops, land must be cleared and habitats destroyed. So it seems, to me, that you aren't really alleviating pressure on the natural world, just shifting it to a less visible spectrum.
Others have said what I was first going to say, but I wanted to add that, again, no one is perfect; sometimes inflicting suffering and death is unavoidable. One can refuse to eat animal products, but by supporting industrial agriculture one still supports the clearing of land and the crushing of field mice. One can reject industrial agriculture and plant a backyard garden, but at some point other creatures are going to start competing for those plants, and you'll have to choose whether to let them devastate your harvest or do something to keep them from eating. Everyone draws a line somewhere between the suffering and death they feel is justified and/or necessary, and the suffereing and death they won't support. Some people like to imagine that theirs is the only legitimate place to draw the line, and that anyone who draws it more liberally is a cold-hearted killer while anyone who expects them to draw it more conservatively is being unrealistic. I think we all owe it to ourselves, our children, and the other creatures of this earth to examine our options with an open mind, and make the most compassionate and conservationist choices we reasonably feel we can. While that doesn't mean everyone's choices are above reproach, it does mean that reasonable people can disagree without either being objectively right or wrong.