What’s in a Name”?

Vegetarian Diet?  Vegan Diet?  Plant-Based Diet?

Over the last year as we changed how we ate, my dilemma has been what to call the “diet” we eat.
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Being a vegetarian (as in eating a vegetarian diet) is fine with me.  It is, in fact, an accurate description of my life-long dietary habits. Mostly I have been a lacto-ovo vegetarian which means I ate eggs and dairy as part of my regular diet.In the last five years I have stubbornly rejected the idea of becoming vegan and remained a lacto-ovo vegetarian.  I have, however, been increasingly aware that dairy products are not good for my body. I mean, when you are lactose sensitive (bordering on intolerant) you kind of have to get a clue, right?

I have had a number of very persuasive reasons to continue eating dairy and eggs:

  1. I LOVE 1/2 and 1/2 in my coffee and any type of cheese you can name
  2. “Have you tried vegan cheeses”? First of all soy is not necessarily a healthy option And then there is the taste: awful! Never mind that won’t even melt! Both the cheeses and the milks (soy, almond, rice) are full of chemicals. With those drawback, obviously eating the real thing was healthier
  3. Cottage Cheese and yogurt are staple foods: quick, soothing and easy
  4. Eggs are “the perfect protein”, they taste great and hold things together. And  I have the same problem with egg replacers that I have with vegan cheeses and milk substitutes: taste and chemicals

All of it sounded pretty good to me even though I knew that of those “facts” were not exactly true. Rationalization is a marvelous tool as long as it works for you!

Then last year David and I made the commitment to keep animal based products at considerably less than 10% of our total diet. Truth is, no matter what you call it we really do vegan diet, with minor slips.

So there it is the dreaded vegan word. . . There reasons for being vegan vary, but generally fall into three categories:

  1. Concern about cruelty and animal rights
  2. Concern about the environmental impact of raising animals for food
  3. Moral or religious prohibitions against killing animals

Vegan for me  has a bunch of connotations that are negative, uncomfortable and maybe even a little weird.  So many vegans are “true believers.” (read fanatics). Their fervor makes me want to run out and choke down a real hamburger. But then I have a little trouble with evangelist of any stripe – diet, religion, politics or EST;  they pretty much make my skin crawl!  Consequently I have avoided the label of vegan like it was a plague!

I am a little slow, so it took months for the term Plant-Based Diet to worm it’s way into my consciousness.  But when it did, I had one of those “ah-ha moments”.  Of course!  I eat a plant-based diet!

The terminology suits me for all kinds of reasons!  It is inclusive, descriptive and doesn’t smack of fanaticism or imply some rigid prescribed abstinence. It seems moderate and balanced.  No matter, I still love cheese and it is comforting to know that if I “slip” and eat some it isn’t sinful, going to kill me, sully my reputation or otherwise gravely injure me.

I am proud to tell you that we eat a plant-based diet!

About Genene Cote

Genene Coté -- Nutrition Advocate, Counselor and Coach who is also a Whole Food Plant Based Eater (vegetarian/vegan), cook and gardener.
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