Vegetarianism -The challenges of being a vegetarian or a vegan (1.0)
This article is from the book “Meditation and the book of Time and Life Management (version 1.0) -by Norbert Szentkereszti (2015)” (To read the whole book online visit book1.vr2b1.org or subscribe here and get the pdf edition for free.)
In our current society setup being vegetarian can be really challenging. You are in a harder situation if you want to live like a Vegan (which means only plant based diet), and in an even more harder situation if you want to follow a Raw (but also plant based) food diet. Additional hardships can be if you eliminate white flour and sugar from your food intake or if you have any kinds of food allergies or intolerances.
The major challenge of being a vegan is that 80-90% of ready made products contain some kinds of animal elements (milk, egg, and other…), and than there are only very few restaurants where they can offer you a clean vegan diet. For vegetarians a life is a bit easier. If you go to a restaurant, you almost always have the cheese option, provided that the cheese sauce is not made by using consommé (which is a meat soup), but there can be additional problems regarding cheese and eggs e.g.: the free-range origin questions…
To see people eat freely what they prefer can add to your annoyance level (especially if you concentrate on the fact that because of them many animals suffer, and there is nothing you can do about the system, at least then and there, but more likely you just rather hate your restriction and you would wish that the world was different), and on such occasions you can even feel outcast from the group since many times you have to say no, and thus you cannot fully share all their experiences (especially if you don’t even drink alcohol…), although you can still feel yourself alright, especially if it is about being together and talking, and not just eating and trying out various dishes…. Having many vegan friends though can help you a lot, and with them you would not feel any restrictions, since everything that is cooked and backed are suitable for your diet, thus you can experience a great relief and a much closer being togetherness. If you are vegan and you’re non-vegan but vegetarian friends offer you a cake you have to almost always say no, but if you are a vegetarian, who don’t eat refined sugar, than you will also have a problem with the acceptance. Naturally some cakes, puddings can contain animal fats or gelatin too, so you might want to make steps to recognize those creations as well.
If you opt for being a vegetarian you have to check the ingredients label for every ready made food. Sadly the situation is not simple, especially if the food comes without label, since there are even doughnuts that are made by using animal fats, or there are sweets and desserts that are made of gelatin like e.g.: Haribo like products and puddings, and naturally the irritating part is that they could have been made that by simply using plant based ingredients… But it is not just the clear easily understandable words that talk about animal origins on those labels, but there are also the so called “e-numbers” which are codes for certain food additives, and each and every number has its own name. (Naturally not every e-number has an animal origin and there are also plant based and synthetic ones, so we “only” have to concentrate to those selected numbers). The significance of the filtered list is that certain animal based additives can be only obtained if the animal is killed, and naturally if you are vegan you have to leave out the additives that derives from e.g.: milk or egg… So if you really care and if you are determined to a stricter life, now you have to carry around an e-number list (which also contains the additive actual sometimes very long names) to filter out the products with animal origins -especially the ones that contain parts from killed animals. Previously the gelatin (that can be only obtained if the animal is killed) was considered as a food additive and it had the code name E441, but it is no longer considered as an additive although that categorization does not change the origin. To make the whole label scanning a bit more complicated we have to know that certain e-numbers can be plant but also animal based, and both origins are under the same name and number, since chemically they are identical… Many sites recommends to call the manufacturers to find out about actual origins regarding those numbers, but that can be inconvenient, and I’m not sure that manufacturers would take your request seriously, and since they are interested in your purchase, probably they would say, that sure it is plant based, even if it is not… So if that would be too much for you, you can naturally believe that all such additives are from plants (especially if there is a high chance that it is so), and if you choose to be a believer than you can shorten your list… (But if it is only a very small chance that the animal was not killed, you rather include that number on your list…)
So e-numbers are codes for substances that can be used as food additives and which are found on the majority of the food labels throughout the European Union, although the companies have the option to either use the code number or the actual name of the additives… Naturally not every E number is problematic, and the numbers were only created to use less character while writing them on the food label and while talking about them, so they are not our enemies since e.g.: vitamins can also get such numbers (e.g.: vitamin C is the E300), but the name “e-numbers” has a negative connotation amongst vegans and vegetarians… To find a really good filtered e-number list which contains all the risky numbers (and also their actual names) can be problematic, because even vegan webpage sources contain contradictions. I created a combined list from several Websites about these e-numbers and I also included additional food ingredients that can be from animal origins but which don’t have an e-number code. Please note that since I’m not an expert I cannot take any responsibility of the truthfulness of those data, so I think everyone should act upon his/her best intention, without feeling guilty. In an ideal world we could drop this time wasting although important habit, and also the conscious consumer title, although being more conscious than others regarding this area of our life can make us more conscious on other areas of our life which can help us to have better eyes to detect injustices… One thing can lessen your stress relating these e-numbers and this is if you selected those product in the same food categories in your local stores that suits for your chosen lifestyle, and later you will only buy those products, and forget about the other ones… (On the other hand sometimes take a look at the back also of those products, because manufacturers can decide to change components, especially if it is about gel substances…)
An additional important thing regarding food additives and e-numbers is that, according to certain studies or claims, some especially artificial additives can be dangerous to our health, and even if they are not from animal origins, and even if they are approved by food agencies, and consider officially harmful we better try to look out also for those numbers…I did not provide you with such list, but make your own research in this area.) As far as I am concerned, I’m 90-95% vegan and 10-5% vegetarian so basically I’m a vegetarian, but additionally this lifestyle I don’t drink alcohol (at least now and for about 10 years now) and I also watch out for the artificial preservatives and artificial sweeteners, colors, glutamates, so whenever it is possible I choose the natural ones -so I say rather eat refined sugar, than artificial sweetener… Sometimes to try out a product I buy such products, but usually for only a few times…
So I talked a lot about e-numbers but this article is really about the hardship of being vegan or vegetarian, so to continue that line I have to mention that there can be additional problems with correct vitamin intakes -e.g.: Vitamin B12 is hard to detect in plants and additionally to this vitamin, you have to take special attention what plants you eat to get all the necessary vitamins, minerals and proteins, but you can supplement your diet with vitamin tablets especially in the beginning to be on the safe side, although check the ingredients of those products, since usually effervescent tablets contain artificial sweeteners and other additives. There are vegan and vegetarian websites that can provide information about where you have to pay special attention, and consider visiting such special sites and gathering as much knowledge about the topic as you can. (e.g.: www.vegsoc.org)
If you’re young and/or if you cannot afford buying your own food and also to cook for yourself you have not much control over your food intake, and you can be in constant quarrel with your family. If you’re not living in an abusive family they might be understanding, and won’t force you to eat animal products especially where the animals were killed and where the animals suffered a lot. However parents worry, because almost every expert states that it’s not only healthy but also mandatory to eat meat every day if you want to remain healthy (which is not true obviously, since there are many vegans, vegetarians who had a very long life and also I’m vegetarian since 2004).
To bring the topic a bit further you could have also problem based upon where you live geographically. In cold or too dry areas (Arabic deserts) you cannot produce enough plants and grains, so if you cannot irrigate properly or if you cannot put your plants in a warm house, you either transport or kill. I recommend everyone who can afford to live in areas, where the weather is more suitable for a non-violent living…
We can have an issue with clothes and accessories made by using leather, and fur. The question is whether we shall use these kinds of products or whether we shall opt for sometimes a poorer quality items. Usually the companies (especially shoe factories) that specialize themselves to leather-less products has not the proper technology and manufacture poor quality or ugly looking or too expensive shoes. For other products (like e.g.: jeans, coats, purses, bag…) the synthetic, cotton and other plant based goods usually have better quality than the leader counterparts. As far as I am concerned in this topic I have to tell you that I still buy leather shoes, although I would be perfectly happy with a quality, waterproof, comfortable (not pointed), not overly priced, nice looking plastic or plant based, black shoe…
And finally one of the most significant hardship and difficulty can be the financial side of being vegan, vegetarian if you don’t have your own land to produce and process all the vegetables, fruits, corns and crops you, your close family and friends need. Buying plant based food especially if they are BIO, can be very expensive (and many times for no apparent reasons, since producing plant based food requires much less processes than the animal based counterparts…). If you choose plant based sausage there’s a chance that you pay more (sometimes 3-6 times mores) compared to the meat based products. Restaurants that offer only plant based food are usually more expensive than regular restaurants -probably because there are fewer customers, and they have the same upkeep… And it is not just about the price of the vegan, vegetarian foods since usually conscious vegan, vegetarian customers want or would prefer to buy healthy and environment friendly products, which can be again more expensive than the synthetic counterpart products. And just the fun fact to the end of this chapter, that if you want to eat less salt and if you choose the peanut without salt, chances are that you will pay more (around 10-30%), even though I think it is easier to make the saltless version…)
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(This article was published by norbert szentkereszti on his website www.vr2b1.org. All rights reserved. Please also read the terms and conditions of my website which also includes a copyright and a disclaimer section.) Click here to read about the Terms and Conditions.