Vegan Deli

Vegan Deli  by Jo Stepaniak

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Raising Vegetarian Children
by Jo Stepaniak, M.S.Ed., & Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.

Raising Vegetarian Children

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Beyond Diet:
Broadening the Boundaries of Our Compassion

Vegetarians usually cite a variety of reasons that motivate them to follow and maintain a plant based diet. These can include health, religious, and environmental considerations, among many others, but no matter which concerns take precedence, compassion typically is high up on the list. Knowing that we can incorporate kindness into something as fundamental as our food choices makes us feel good about ourselves. Even if compassion is not the primary basis for our vegetarianism, we still enjoy the emotional and spiritual satisfaction that comes from knowing we are eating a harm-free diet.

Sadly, for many vegetarians food is the beginning and ending of their compassion towards other life forms. They may feel that not eating animals is sufficient and that they do not need to do more, or they may not be aware that there are other ways to demonstrate compassion in our daily lives. I became a vegetarian as a young girl, and I did not know any other vegetarians. Because I was on my own, I often made mistakes and ate prepared foods that contained animal derivatives, although I was unaware of it at the time. For me, as is the case for most other people, vegetarianism was, and still is, a learning process. The longer I lived as a vegetarian, the more I discovered about the widespread use of animal products in foods. I found out about "hidden ingredients" such as beef broth in tomato sauce, gelatin in salad dressings, chicken extract in gravy mixes, or whey (a dairy derivative) in vegetable boullion. It was an eye-opening and frightening undertaking. Suddenly my vegetarianism was not just about avoiding meat but about asking questions, investigating, and uncovering the truth.

A few years after I became a vegetarian, I was confronted with some startling realizations that I had not previously considered. A friend pointed out to me the ethical contradiction between not eating beef but wearing leather shoes. I had not thought about this before, and it jolted me awake. It had not occurred to me that by purchasing leather products I was negating the good I thought I was doing by avoiding beef. I learned that there is a direct connection between the foods we eat and the clothing we wear. In countries where cow meat is popular, leather is a widespread commodity. In other countries sheep skin, pig skin, goat skin, or kangaroo skin is prevalent. Animal skins are one of the residues of animal slaughter. They are what the meat industry terms "byproducts" -- parts of animals they cannot market as food. By selling skin and other byproducts to various manufacturers, the animal slaughter businesses can reap extra revenue that directly subsidizes their dastardly operation. It is an endless loop. Thus there is virtually no difference between eating animals and wearing them. In fact, all animals used as commodities -- even those that are not immediately killed for their products, such as wool-bearing sheep or dairy cows -- eventually end up on someone's plate. Their flesh will be carved into lower-grade cuts of meat or ground into burgers, their hides and hair will adorn wealthy human beings, and their remaining body parts will be sold to other industries -- such as glue and gelatin factories -- to be made into myriad products.

Vegans are strict vegetarians who have come to realize the interconnectedness of the animal slaughter industries and who have made a personal pledge to avoid animal exploitation in all its forms. This entails not purchasing or wearing the by-products of meat production or any other items that involved suffering or death including the skin, fleece, feathers, shells, hair, or body parts of any animal, bird, fish, or insect. Consequently, vegans shun fur, down, silk, camel's hair, mohair, angora, tortoiseshell, fish scales, snakeskin, ivory, bone, pearls, and all other animal-derived commodities. To vegans, these items are repulsive because of the cruel and hideous manner in which they are obtained.

All vegetarians can and should make the move toward greater compassion by eliminating the remaining products of suffering from their lives. When we stop eating meat but still support slaughter through buying items that are closely aligned with meat production, we nullify the good intentions behind our diet. Once we know the truth, there is no way to ignore it without consciously consenting to the exploitation of sentient beings.

For vegetarians who have compassion among their reasons for eschewing meat, becoming vegan is the next logical step. In the spirit of genuine compassion, there just is no other choice.


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Vegan Vittles:
Second Helpings

Vegan Vittles: Second Helpings by Jo Stepaniak

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The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook

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Review by Dan Balogh

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The Food Allergy
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