Saturday, June 5, 2010

Interviews: Tom: Why Discriminate Based On Species?




CYoFC:  Describe your current diet/lifestyle (vegan, lacto-ovo vegetarian, pescetarian, freegan, flexitarian, omnivore with vegan tendencies...etc.).

Tom:  Currently I'm sort of in between a vegetarian and a vegan. I don't eat meat or dairy, but I do eat eggs.

CYoFC:  For how long have you been mostly vegan?

Tom:  I became a vegetarian on Thanksgiving 2002.  I tried full veganism two summers ago, but it only last for about six months.  I've had my current diet since then.

CYoFC:  What led to these changes for you?

Tom:  It wasn't until I started dating a vegan girl that I really paid attention to the numerous arguments for a plant-based diet.  Prior to that, I thought the only possible justification for refraining from eating meat was concern for animal welfare.  While I cared very much about animals, I didn't necessarily care more about them than I care about tomatoes or other plants, and you know that we have to kill and eat something in order to live...so "why discriminate based on species?" I thought.  But then I found out about the gross inefficiency of raising animals for food, and the terrible impact it has on the environment.  That really opened my eyes.

CYoFC:  Right on. Were there any challenges you faced throughout these dietary changes? What about current challenges of eating a mostly vegan diet?

Tom:  I don't find refraining from eating meat to be difficult at all.  There are so many alternatives, especially with the numerous advances in mock meat technology happening all the time :-)  I do find it somewhat difficult to find alternatives to products that usually have dairy or eggs mixed in, but even that is getting easier and easier all the time.  For example, the vegan bakery Sticky Fingers here in Washington, DC has lots of delicious baked goods and snacks that aren't made with any animal products.

CYoFC:  DC's Sticky Fingers is phenomenal for vegans and even non-vegans. I've yet to find a better cupcake in the country! Do you plan on continuing to eat mostly vegan? If so, what motivates you ? If not, what motivates you to change?

Tom:  I don't see myself ever eating red meat ever again; I think it's just disgusting.  I do get cravings for fried chicken every now and then, but I think I'll probably be a vegetarian for a long time, if not for life.  I'm not so sure about refraining from dairy, though.  While I don't see myself giving up my current diet anytime soon, I'm not as sure that I'll never eat a dairy-cheese pizza ever again.

CYoFC:  Vegetarian for life! Wow. Tell me, why should other people consider veganism or vegetarianism?

Tom:  For me, having a mostly plant-based diet is just one thing I can do in my day-to-day life to limit the impact that I have on environment (like turning off the lights when I leave the room, or recycling, etc.).  Anyone who is concerned about the environment should think about at least severely limiting their meat consumption.

CYoFC:  You say a mouthful. There are so many environmental effects of meat production that many of us aren't aware of. Even on small, free range farms, the amount of energy and resources needed to raise cattle, pigs, and chickens for food purposes is enormous compared to plant farming. Do you have any tips or advice for people who are just starting out on a more plant-based diet?

Tom:  If you think you'll have a hard time refraining from eating meat, check out the many mock meat brands that are on the market these days.  And, learn how to cook a dish or two.  It's not that hard!

CYoFC:  Good advice. What about your favorite foods?

Tom:  Pasta, broccoli, lentils, onions, garlic, falafel, fake chicken nuggets, vegan cupcakes, Thai food, Indian food, and Ethipian food.  Oh yeah, and eggs in the morning :-/

CYoFC: All of these options contain absolutely no cheese. Describe what the giving-up-cheese process was like for you.

Tom:  It's a little bit difficult, but now that we can get vegan pizza by delivery in Washington, DC it's not too bad.

CYoFC:  Vegan pizza by delivery? That's fabulous. I hope other cities pick up on this! Now, one more question that is oh-so-commonly wondered about plant-eaters: Are you getting enough protein?

Tom:  I think so, but I've honestly never been to a nutritionist, so I'm not too sure.


Thanks, Tom!!!

Tom, 28, currently lives in Washington, DC. In addition to his concerns for animal welfare and the environment, his passions also center around politics, media, technology, and photography.

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