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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Do you have questions about being vegan? Send them to Jo using this easy form. She would be happy to address your individual concerns as well as general inquiries about vegan ethics, philosophy, practical applications, and living compassionately. Jo cannot respond to questions about nutrition or answer questions that have already been addressed in the Archives

Jo will make every attempt to answer each question personally, however, due to her schedule, this may not be possible. If a reply is forthcoming, it could take up to a few weeks, so please be patient. It is also possible that your question will be answered directly in the "Ask Jo!" column rather than an individual response.

If you'd like to view previous questions Jo has answered, visit the Ask Jo! Archives.

Allergies vs. Ethics

I am thinking about becoming a vegan. I have really bad allergies to milk and other things. I have read that a vegan diet can make your allergies better and my mom is very supportive and thinks it would be a good idea to try it. My dad on the other hand is also very supportive, but he loves meat. I am afraid that this would be weird for my family and friends. My brother thinks that vegetarians and vegans are crazy. Do you have any suggestions on how to handle this with my family?

It sounds as though you are contemplating adopting a total vegetarian diet -- not a vegan lifestyle -- because of concerns about your allergies and health. It is important to acknowledge the difference between an animal-free diet and a compassionate lifestyle because one is rooted in the head and the other in the heart.

When people make dietary changes based on theories about what is best for their health, there is no impetus to maintain the diet if their health declines or their hypotheses prove false. Tinkering with what you eat or don't eat to determine what makes you feel better doesn't involve an ethical commitment to anyone or anything outside of yourself. It is a choice that can change in an instant, especially if opposing medical concepts surface. True veganism, however, is a lifestyle -- not merely a diet -- based on the moral conviction that all living beings are sacred.

Our culture finds it easier to accept dietary deviations due to health-related matters than preferences based on principle. There is no need to argue for a way of eating that reverses the progression of a disease, prevents an allergic reaction, facilitates weight loss, reduces your cholesterol level, improves the condition of your skin, or enhances your overall sense of physical well-being. Who could contest this? Where is the controversy? No one would insist that you return to a meat-based diet if it would impair your health. Meat eaters might say they feel sorry for you, but they would not condemn you.

Alternatively, modern society views moral precepts as elective and therefore capable of being modified or discarded whenever they are inconvenient, disruptive, or unsettling to others. In fact, our culture sees this as not only reasonable but necessary in order for individuals to function as part of the greater whole. As a result, people who choose a principled lifestyle are often forced to defend their beliefs and practices to those who see their tenets as optional, not imperative.

To be considered "weird" because one aspect of your life -- your diet -- alleviates a health condition is deemed defensible. To be labeled "peculiar" because of who you are and what you assert is another matter altogether and one that is much more difficult to endure.

Your family does not want you to endanger your health, regardless of whether or not they choose to eat meat. If your decision to avoid eating animal products makes you feel better, I presume that your family would be happy for you.




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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
Survival Guide

The Food Allergy Survival Guide

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