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Vegetarian Anniversary

It's been five energetic, delicious, and happy years since I decided to adopt a vegetarian diet.

I did my bachelor's degree in a very environmentally conscious and forward thinking university; during undergrad I spent almost all of my spare time volunteering with social justice organizations, and so my social circle consisted of super well-informed and awe-inspiring people. In short, all of my friends we're vegetarian or vegan; many for environmental reasons, some out of disdain for factory farming, and some out of concern for the energy waste involved in meat farming.

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It was peer pressure. I wanted to be one of the cool kids- so I said goodbye to BBQ pork, to peking duck, to my dad's famous black bean ribs. Life was more black and white when I was 19 I was convinced that if the entire world became vegetarian, there would be enough food to feed the hungry, carbon emissions would go down, global warming would stagnate, and there would be a future after all for our grandchildren.

Life isn't as straightforward anymore. One of the most interesting things I've learned in medical school is that most of what we think we know is wrong. This has been more evident than ever in the past week during our review lectures. We've been trying to cram all the screening and treatment guidelines into our minds before the licensing exam, but each of our lecturers invariably mentions, "by the way, what we mentioned in first year about x has now changed for your licensing exam please learn the new guidelines for x", or "for the purposes of your exam, please answer the questions based on y guidelines, but in practice, the evidence has changed so make sure you use z treatment protocol with your real patients instead".

Same principle has applied to eating organic, eating vegetarian, eating local. The evidence for environmental benefits is mixed. And that's understandable; the earth is one hell of a complicated ecosystem, and there are soooooo many variables in the food production and consumption process.

Mostly we think that avoiding meat consumption will help reduce CO2 emissions. But recently I watched a very interesting TED talk on the importance of livestock in preventing desertification.

Eating local reduces energy consumption by cutting down on transport needs. But this, too, is a simplification. Studies have shown that locally grown produce in colder climates actually requires more energy consumption than growing and importing the same produce from moe temperate areas.

But I haven't wavered in my resolve to become a vegetarian. Although I don't know with absolute certainty, I'd prefer to err on the side of caution and assume that eating my veggies will have positive effects on climate change and world hunger. One thing I am certainly convinced of is that vegetarianism is much better for your health. I was so convinced last week that I wanted to put together a literature review for my family and friends on all of the recent systematic reviews of dietary effects on health outcomes, because there's nothing more embarrassing than pulling facts out of my ass at dinner party conversations when I try to explain why I don't eat meat. What I found in the process of doing my review was reassuring: vegetarians have significantly less cancer, less heart disease, and longer life spans. But it became glaringly evident that vegans do even better in all of these areas.

So I've been pretty actively cutting milk and eggs and cheese out of my grocery list, and having a grand time exploring vegan substitutions. Yesterday, I really really wanted some cheese. Some stringy, goey, melted cheese. Mmmmm. So I decided to try my hand at vegan cheeze sauce using nutritional yeast, based on the awesome recipe from oh she glows!


2 cups cooked pasta

1 can black beans

1 can cream corn

1 can whole tomatoes

1 cup chopped mushrooms

1 tbs shredded basil


6 tbs nutritional yeast

3/4 cup almond milk

1 tbs honey dijon mustard

1 tbs coconut flour

1 tbs coconut oil

1/2 tbs oregano


1) Mix sauce ingredients together and bring to boil on medium heat until reaches desired thickeness.

2) Mix everything else together in a large baking dish, pour cheeze sauce on top. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes.

So it was nutty, very flavorful, and interesting. But definitely not melty, gooey-cheesey. Could I become a vegan? Probably. Will I? Still on the fence. More ventures into veganism to come!

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Posted in Home Improvement Post Date 10/12/2017






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