Personal Web Site of Zachary J. Fink, Ph.D.

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Going Vegan

Since late 1997, I have been a near-vegan. The initial reason for doing so stemmed from my dislike of eating fat. Added to that is the fact that eating meat, poultry, and seafood is extremely wasteful from an environmental point of view, with meat being, by far, the most wasteful of the three.

It is practically impossible to be a complete vegan--no animals or animal products at all--because of the widespread usage of animals today. Even reading the labels in the food stores is not completely sufficient, as there are chemicals and whatever else that can come from either plants or animals. Examples of this are enzymes.

Problems with being a vegetarian years ago were in getting enough protein, vitamin B complexes, calcium, and iron. Soybean products, along with nuts and beans, can readily supply all the protein that a person needs; many veggie foods are fortified with calcium, iron, and vitamin B complexes, so that this is no longer a problem.

There is an incredibly vast selection of vegan/vegetarian foods on the market today, even in the supermarkets. This includes soy-made cheeses (many flavors), sour cream, margarine, butter, ice cream, tofu, tempeh, hot dogs, pizza, hamburgers, ice cream, chili, ham, pepperoni, turkey, chicken, bacon, bologna, pork, and yogurt. There is also a great variety of non-animal granolas, nuts and nut butters, beans, veggie seasonings (such as tahini), salsa, pastas, and gravies and corn-based polenta.

My two favorite meals are a vegetable stir-fry and bean vegetable soup. The stir-fry typically is made with a little bit of oil (possibly olive oil), onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, garlic, and possibly asparagus, cauliflower, or broccoli, along with a carbohydrate to help make the dish a completely balanced meal, such as potatoes, rice, pasta, or couscous. The bean soup is made from vegetable broth (usually made myself from steaming vegetables), bulgur wheat or groats, lentils, and the same vegetables and a carbohydrate used in the stir-fry.

My typical breakfasts are nutritious cereals with fortified soy milk and fortified orange juice (not from concentrate), waffles, or pancakes; lunches include veggie hot dogs or hamburgers, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a frozen soy entree, veggie cheese sandwiches, veggie grinders, or soy pizza; dinners, as described above, are most often a vegetable stir fry or bean vegetable soup and a roll with margarine; other common dinners are salads, baked eggplant and pasta.

Desserts mostly include granola and granola bars, low-fat candy bars, nuts (several varieties), sunflower seeds, fruit (fresh, dried, or frozen), a tablespoon full of a nut butter (peanut, almond, or cashew), and soy ice cream.

There are various veggie substitutes for meat and dairy products in recipes. For instance, a heaping tablespoon of corn starch and two tablespoons of water can be used in place of an egg for cooking.

If the world went totally vegan tomorrow, we would immediately have twice as much vegetation as we have today. This would mean that we could readily feed all the people in the world while saving vast amounts of farm and range lands; pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, fossil fuel, and fertilizer; and the pollution that all of this generates (agriculture results in the worst pollution of any human activity).