Day 6 Dairy Free and the environmental challenges of a vegan/vegetarian diet.

I just wanted to do a quick update tonight. I’ve been super busy this week between working, editing the Newsletter for the Alberta Organic Producers Association and trying to stay on top of making healthy meals. So far dairy free has still not been a huge challenge for me. I finally tried my rice milk this morning and it was delicious, I’ll be back to the store ASAP to stock up. My meals have been a little boring, more due to lack of time and not having a solid repertoire of go to dairy free meals than the dietary restrictions. Mostly I’ve been eating veggies with the occasional side of scrambled eggs. Tonight I had a slight craving for mac and cheese so I just cooked up some pasta and added my vegan cheese, I didn’t mind the difference at all. I went out for lunch for the first time since starting dairy free and it was a little unsatisfying.. We went to a coffee shop and the only thing on the menu I could have was a vegetarian pita with no cheese. Being forced into this one meal and not having options was disappointing, especially since I wasn’t really in the mood for a veggie pita. Also this coffee shop did not have any milk alternatives so I didn’t get a coffee either. That was good for my wallet at least.

I also wanted to talk about an issue that is constantly nagging at the back of my mind. I read an article today which pretty much outlines the negative effects of a vegetarian/vegan diet. You can read it here. “Can Vegans stomach the unpalatable truth about quinoa” is the title and to be honest it really made me think about my protein rich food of choice. It’s hard not to feel disheartened when you discover something bad about what you thought to be a good choice. I like to think the choices I make serve to decrease my impact on the environment but I guess there is always room for improvement. The article outlines how increasing demand for quinoa in North America has caused the once staple to become unaffordable in the countries that produce it. This is due to it’s being marketed as a health superfood, a complete protein for vegans, and full of beneficial vitamins and nutrients. Farmers in these countries have switched from growing a variety of diverse crops to planting strictly quinoa due to overseas pressure and demand. The article brings up the irony of the fact that most people purchasing this grain do so with well intentions,  to avoid animal protein, yet may be driving poverty in South American countries. Another problematic protein, soy, is also discussed in the article. Soya crops are now the second leading cause of deforestation in South America (next to the cattle industry) to meet increasing consumer demand for soy products. On top of that these protein alternatives need to be shipped overseas, processed, and then sent out to the consumer logging a lot of miles along the way.. Therefore not really an environmentally friendly option.

Which leads me to an impasse. Do I choose the lesser of two evils, quinoa and soy based proteins over animal proteins or do I try to find yet another alternative. How will I know that this new alternative will not end up being just as bad. It seems like in our society there are negative effects for every choice you make. Which is discouraging. Why bother trying to make all these changes when in the end the changes you make might not even be making a difference. I guess the only true environmentally friendly food source is local, either grown at home or at a nearby farm. Which means no imported grains, fruits or vegetables.. Am I ready to give up my oranges, bananas, and quinoa on top of meat? Why do I need to make all these sacrifices when these thoughts don’t even occur to the average person, they don’t even consider the impact of their daily choices. Anyways, I could continue this discussion all night. There are just to many angles to be analyzed but I must sleep. It’s been late nights all week and I hate not getting my 8 hours!

Please feel free to add any comments/suggestions. I’d love to hear your views on this topic!

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3 responses to “Day 6 Dairy Free and the environmental challenges of a vegan/vegetarian diet.

  1. Interesting plan. I don’t drink milk but cheese & yogurt are also my weakness. I should get back to buying local goat yogurt or make my own.

    Happy you’re still eating eggs. I don’t think I’m ever going to give up meat as I believe we’re meant to eat it. It’s just the source chosen so I try my best to buy local or I’m lucky enough to get wild game from my dad fairly consistently. Factory farms are the problem.

    Have you used coconut oil as a replacement for butter? I’m a huge advocate for coconut anything because of the amazing health benefits! It tastes great in baking. I also fry with it & such as it’s an oil you can heat. There’s also a coconut spread which tastes yummy melted on things! I do use earth balance sometimes as well.

    The almond yogurts aren’t too bad.
    Here’s a line of products which you might like. The whip cream is pretty delicious.
    http://www.mimiccreme.com/

    Just bought the bacteria to make my own kefir which I’ll do with coconut not cow milk. Let you know how it goes 🙂

    Didn’t realize about the quinoa. Crazy. Might make me rethink me love for the grain a bit.
    It is basically coming back to the true meaning of organic which is all about sustainable sources & the relationship with the farmer. With that I suppose seasonal foods play a key role. Banana’s make sense because we don’t grow them but tomatoes don’t need to be shipped from Mexico especially when you can get them at a local market or plant them yourself. Because organic is a marketing technique & buzz word it’s incredible the amount of organic nonsense that is sold. Gluten free is another one.

    I often wonder about supporting these companies which are owned by the larger ones creating the problem. Does it make any sense? I suppose if enough people buy they’ll change the way the operate because it’s all about profit for them so whatever sells.

    I should do 30 days of no wheat. I know I’ll feel better! Or perhaps a 100 mile diet. Hmmm..

  2. Just wondering, you said you didn’t have a coffee cuz there was no milk alternative? Didnt you just have a black coffee?

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