Thursday, January 28, 2010

To be, or not to be... vegan.

The other night, I ate a pizza from Crust. With cheese. I've also been eating organic Greek yogurt. And organic cottage cheese. This only started last week. I reached a point of desperation somewhere, completely at my wit's end over my still insufficient milk supply. Finally, I decided that the totally un-scientific thought that "if I eat it, maybe I will make more of it" might be worth trying. Since I'm no longer pregnant, I'm not concerned that my own lack of ability to digest dairy will affect Tye as significantly, if at all. Worst case scenario, we move her bouncer chair into the bathroom a few more times each day. So, I bought some organic dairy from Whole Foods. And... I'm enjoying it. I'm not feeling like a prisoner released from my shackles or anything- I honestly would be just fine putting away the dairy for a few more years. Actually, returning to cheese was a bit disappointing- not quite how I remembered it. The thing is, I just can't shake the thought that maybe my body isn't making enough milk because it's not getting enough of something... It's a thought that has been haunting me for two months now, and I decided to face it head on and just go for it. So now, in addition to eating eggs, as I've been doing since my first trimester (which I had been thinking was just temporary), I'm also eating organic dairy.
The organic part is really important to me. I am very concerned about the levels of hormones and antibiotics in conventional milk and how those will affect Tye. Additionally, I feel very passionately about putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak. I originally went vegan as a political statement of sorts, my own way to protest the environmental costs of conventional animal agriculture. Our cows shouldn't be eating corn and producing massive amounts of methane that contribute to global warming. Our pig manure shouldn't be polluting our water supply. None of our livestock should be receiving hormones or unnecessary antibiotics. The easiest way for me to limit my own environmental impact was to cut out all animal products from my diet. I was doing my part to send a message to the producers of animal agriculture in America using my lone fork, one bite at a time. I still feel very, very strongly about these topics. I also realize that I can still make an impact by consuming only animal products that are produced responsibly.
Perhaps all along, I would have been making even more of an impact by supporting the organic milk and organic, free-range egg industries (and even organic grass-fed meats). But it was far easier for me to tell people that I don't eat any animal products than it was for me to list the requirements and research the sources of animal products with which I was presented. How rude would I seem if I were to dine at someone's home and tell them, "I eat cheese, just not the cheese you've cooked for me?" I still don't know what I'll do when I'm presented with that situation. It's been so much easier to just not eat any of it...
I also keep thinking about the health side of it. Will dairy help me increase my milk supply? When I first went vegan, I noticed the health benefits almost immediately- significantly increased energy, nails that never break, super-strong immune system. When I added eggs nine months ago, none of that changed that I noticed. Were the benefits of being vegan just the benefits of consuming a more well-rounded, varied diet? What will change if I add dairy? It's been about a week with just one, maybe two servings of organic dairy a day (though none while I was in Texas). No noticeable difference immediately, but I'm willing to give it some time while I figure out how I'm going to handle the organic-only dairy diet. As I've been saying for the almost 4 years that I've been happily vegan, I never said this was for the rest of my life. Perhaps we're moving on to the next stage in my food life already.

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