Little did I know that vegans and vegetarians are a world apart. By definition, vegetarians are those individuals that do not eat any meat products, they will however, eat dairy products and eggs. Vegans on the other hand, do not consume any animal products at al! Vegan food walks a hard thin line. I admire both groups of people. They have both made choices that will leave them healthier and I presume happier, while living a longer life. I happen to enjoy a hearty steak every now and then, am wild about ribs, and I enjoy dairy products. I too am happy, perhaps not as healthy and if I keel over tomorrow at least it will be with a full stomach. Like I said, it's all about choices.
Vegan food doesn't seem very exciting on the surface - lots and lots of grains, but also fruits, vegetables and beans. All are low in fat and contain little or no cholesterol. And all vegan food is rich in fiber (which means you're going to poop a lot). Let it be said, that vegans do not suffer from irregularity. In fact with a little planning and common sense, vegans can create a diet that provides all the nutrients they need, without any reference to animal products. Lesson number one; vegan food doesn't have to look or taste good in order to be good for you (kind of like the castor oil you took as a kid).
The case for veganisim (I don't know if that's a word, but it is now) gets a bit murky when you decide just how far you're going to follow the definition of "animal based product." Sugar is a good example. Refined sugars don't contain any animal products that I know of, but sometimes sugar is processed with animal bone or cartilage (used to remove color and impurities). So with that in mind, is sugar a vegan food or not? I guess it depends on how much you read into the definition.
I'm against the useless slaughter of animals. I think most people will agree with that statement. I don't personally find the use of animals as a food product as useless. Maybe there's a different word out there we can use besides "slaughter". Animals that "valiantly sacrifice their life so that humans may live" sounds a lot better to me. That doesn't deter the principals behind vegan food and a diet of such. But I look at it this way: if we don't use cows and steers and other potential meat sources as just that - a meat source, then we're going to have an over-abundance of these animals. Then what do we do? Lift the bans on mountain lions and wolves and bears and whatever else out there that would enjoy a good steak. Or do we convince these animals to convert to vegan food also?
I've come to learn that the challenge of vegan food is how it's prepared. There are actually quite a few web sites that focus on vegan recipes. I was surprised to learn that there are a lot of recipes floating around regarding vegan cakes and vegan pies. Vegan wedding cakes also seem to be a niche market. I was perplexed about the vegan cakes - but then I remembered the controversy surrounding sugar and its by-products. Fortunately there are sugar substitutes like beet sugar that allow you to make vegan cakes and just about any other desert.
So what will it be - vegan or vegetarian? Or do we just damn the torpedoes and have a grilled hamburger instead...?