MenU; Vegging About

(..that's a tongue-in-cheek reference to an Aussie-ism... to 'veg' is short for 'to vegetate' which as you may imagine, is something slothful... and let me tell you, it has been anything but slothful round the YAMster's hutch the past month... but that's a story to be told very soon...)

Once again I was impressed by the response to last week's MenU post, for which 'thank you' to all commenters. Joanne remarked on a vegan friend having to 'go vegetarian' and I was reminded of once being asked 'What's the difference'... this ties in to some degree with Jennifer's comment also.

I feel that most of my readers will know much of the following; but it is part of the 'flow' of the subject, so here it is;
VEGAN; the complete removal of food from one's diet which pertains in any manner to animal source. Thus, no milk, cheese, eggs or items which may be tracked back to insects and such like.
VEGETARIAN; the non-consumption of meat products or their derivatives, (lard, tallow, food additives...)

Put like that it can look oh so simple.

Anyone who has any knowledge of this at all, though, will understand that it is surprisingly troublesome. For example anything which contains food colouring - which a lot of commercial cakes and biscuits do. If there is pink present, then it needs to be checked that it is not from cochineal. (A beetle whose wings are crushed for the colour.)  Double check that strawberry milk or pink-iced cupcake next time...

Now, the vegan diet can be intense. Particularly in the West, veganism is taken up as an ethical living choice and such folk will not even wear wool, or leather, and are against any form of animal exploitation whatsoever.  This is highly laudable, if somewhat impractical in some parts.  Although the term 'vegan' (first three and last two letters of the larger sister word) was coined in London at the end of the war, the tenets of the diet and its associated purpose probably owes some dues to the Jain religion. (British Imperialisam imported and adapted more than just the foodstuffs!)

Image result for jain foodJainism is, like Buddhism, seen as a separate faith to Hinduism, but in fact both are 'branches' of that tree. Whilst many Buddhists remain meat consumers, Jains adhere to a very strict form of vegetarianism  and work on the key principal of अहिंसा /ahimsaa, non-injury. Whilst the 'rules' actually permit dairy (but not eggs), many Jains avoid dairy also due to the awful ethos of modern milk production (more on that later.....) Their argument against eggs is that these are the offspring of a species which has all the five senses. The more senses available to a species, the higher up the scale of sentience. Veges are one-sense species. Now, it doesn't take too much logic to work out that the eggs, per se, are not the offspring, but have the potential to provide an environment within which offspring might grow. In traditional settings, of course one could not ensure an unfertilised egg, so this was proper exercise of caution. Nowadays, provided the eggs are ethically produced in every other way - i.e. organically fed, free-range hens without presence of cockerel - then there is no real concern.  Even vegetables are not all approved by Jains. Root veges are off - removing them from ground is not only destroying the whole plant, but endangers micro-organisms around them. Tomatoes and watermelon are off - their flesh resembles meat and the colour of blood. Sprouts of any type are off, as these are the 'babies' of a potential full plant.... etc and so forth. Such conscious awareness of the preciousness of ALL life is highly commendable, but extremely difficult to adopt if one is not born to it - and also outside of a given community. Jains overseas have adapted and will in fact take 'forbidden' vegetables because it is just not feasible to maintain diet otherwise, though most do retain veganism.

Vegetarianism as a more general approach to diet is somewhat less stressful. Not without its trubs, as you have been reading here! On the whole, though, something can usually be managed when eating out, albeit unimaginative. Majority vegos do take eggs and dairy - though preferring organic, ethically produced items where possible.  For many it is a health option and also an ethical lifestyle choice. Taking cheese may seem fine under this label, but when it is considered that the vast majority of cheeses have been traditionally made with rennet (by-product of cow stomach).......well, thank goodness that many now are made with microbial agents similar to that for yoghurt! It just means lots of checking of ingredients listings when out shopping.

For the record, being brought up in a standard Scottish family, with farmers on one side and foresters on the other, there was no avoiding the meat and two veg meals. It has to be said I was never a big meat eater - especially red meats. I ate them because that was what was put in front of me; and is was 'you don't leave the table until...' kind of thing. Mother, though, was a bit left of field in this regard, that quite often we got non-meat meals. It could have been a thrift thing - but I believe she genuinely loved and possibly preferred her bean bakes and lentil pilafs and such like.

She it was who introduced the egg curry and it remained a firm family favourite.  As did her lentil lasagne - which recipe I have inherited. It is one of those dishes which truly amazes confirmed carnivores.

As a teenager, from conscience, I made an attempt at vegetarianism. Mum did her best to support it. It faltered, as most teenage things must. Not completely though. For several years in my twenties I ate very little meat - though couldn't claim to be vegetarian as such. Once I moved to Australia though, that began to right itself and the meat got less and less and the veges more and more. Helped by the fact this was a well-established diet choice there and several of my new friends were disposed to it.

To be frank it wasn't from any huge philosophical shift that this happened for me.  It just felt better and I had the added impetus of finding a food balance which didn't aggravate the arthritis. At one point, whilst studying for my Homoeopathic Medical degree, I attempted the full vegan choice. That lasted all of 18 months. My general health was impaired by the lack of dairy. Soy just doesn't carry the same oomph for this body. Returning to dairy, things got better.

Early in my forties, meat crept back in. Mainly chicken, sometimes lamb or beef. Never pork. Then, some eight/nine years ago, a firm decision was made to return to vego. This was furthered by having found Hinduism..... or it finding me. Either way we suit each other and when I began researching the concepts of diet according to that faith it immediately made a lot of sense as my own experiments with how food felt in the body were borne out by the principles there. A good deal of it had extended and has being taken up by nutritional scientists globally. It is now very widely recognised that, if for no other reason, taking a more vegetable and grain based diet will improve health. Making two or three days of the week meat free would be doing a lot of favours to the body.

Next week, an overview of diet from the perspective Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.... (I've started, so I'll finish! &*>)

Image result for animal to camera
What's to hear........????????????????
Image result for animal to camera
HAVE YOU HEARD..??????.........


Frankie Furter and Ernie said...

WE are so glad that you explained all this so clearly and concisely... Both Vegan and Vegetarian Diets are sometimes difficult to fully understand and Appreciate...
We just do not know how the Vegans manage in this society... so many products have NON PLANT ingredients in them... that are not PLAINLY listed .
We admire Both Life Choices.

Angel Pip and Ruby said...

I do live primarily as a vegetarian and have for much of the last 20 years. I do eat some fish and eggs from time to time, but otherwise mostly plant based foods. It's a personal choice for me and quite simply it works for me. My husband and daughter are NOT vegetarians nor of course was Pip who was probably best known for his cheeseburger eating ways!

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Hi guys... thank you for this... part of the confusion is, sadly, that a lot of folk start out thinking they are taking up vegetarianism but actually don't research it or take advice on the matter either. Especially young folks who want to be like their celebrity 'icons'... whole different kinda worship going on there and potentially damaging in all sorts of ways. But don't get me started on that one!!! You are so correct about the labelling of things too... it's a minefield and that applies even to eaters of meat product - truly if folk knew the half of it...

It is gratifying that this little miniseries of menloopals has engendered significant interest and worthy responses. Jus' shows it doesn't have to be all fund and games round here. Though lots of that is necessary too. Fur balance you unnerstand! Yxx

Julie said...

I finks a Vegan diet is incredibly difficult to follow but then vegetarian can be difficult as well. My Mum has a craving for midget gems, she luffs them butts there is something in them that means a vegetarian shouldn't eat them!!! I finks my Mum could never goes veggie if she had to give up her midget gems, it would be a big like asking me to give up puppicinos!!!
Loves and licky kisses
Princess Leah xxx

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Thank you for 'popping' in! It is great that you are a 'multifood' choice family - I have seen some folk get so rabidly anti-vego or anti-carno that it actually disturbs relationships. (Which of course means that MUCH more is going on than food difference.... different topic YAM!!)... Dear old Jade never got any such thing as a cheesburger... but she DID love her chapattis and pooris. These Indian breads were a passion and whenever I took out the chakla-belan (rolling board and pin), she'd hunker down behind me with that 'you can't see me among the floorboards' pose and would wait without moving for as much as an hour till she got that first roti (bread)!!! She also loved rajma-chawal (kidney beans and rice) and chana dahl (chickpeas). Crazy ol' dog.... Yxx

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Ohhhhh your Prettiness - tell mum that Yami loves jelly gems too .... and that you can get Dr Oetkers which DON'T have the gelatine but use agar agar instead - that is seaweed jelly. Gelatine is made from boiled down skin, sinew and bones of cattle and/or pigs.... blllaaarrrrrrggghhhh!!!! Yxx

Joanne Noragon said...

Interesting and then some. The older I become, the less meat I eat. Except, of course, bacon, for which I might elbow my way to the head of the line. Beef turns my stomach, chicken slightly less so. I do not eat the former and of a chicken breast or pork chop, a serving a quarter the size of my palm and I'm done with my obligation to the cook.
My vegan friend did so for health, following a heart attack. He even has eliminated nuts (the fat!) and announces his health is perfect. I wouldn't be so bold; to each his own.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
G'day J! It is true that very often the older body quite naturally gravitates to more grain and veg based diet - but not everyone listens to their bodies so well!!! As to perfect health? Vegans of course have to ensure adequate protein and nutritional balance and far too few folk (as hinted in response to F&E) get properly guided on this - or think they can go it alone. It is not just a case of eliminating things. Every case is individual, but the basics are the basics are the basics... Yxx

Murphy said...

It is all very complicated isn't it? Mom calls herself a "veg-a-lite". That means she does not eat meat (on rare occasions a tiny bit of chicken) but will eat other things like diary and chocolate. She made me write chocolate.

Your Pals,

Murphy & Stanley

Mara said...

I have thought about being vegetarian, but at the end of the day I like my meat too much. Mind you I have never really tried. I just know that when out in Norway, trying to get a vegetarian meal is pretty difficult: either it's just veg, or it includes mushrooms (yuck). There is usually one choice and that's it.

Mark Muller said...

I always thought it's a hard way to stay away from meat... but it wasn't a big thing. And I'm glad I made this decision many moons ago... but I eat fish&seafood...and I like it ... and I never watch movies like Nemo or Arielle :o)
easy rider (still carnivore, comment is written by my momma)