The Veg Voyage: What and Why?

I could barely get through the documentary Vegucated without pausing and Googling all things veg related like nice farms to animals + Bay Area,  where can I visit an organic farm near San Francisco?, can you own a chicken in a condo?, how much are chickens?, is honey vegan?, is there a Vegetarian Summerfest in California?…and the list went on throughout the film.

The thing is, this isn’t my first love affair with a documentary about vegetables… (Or my first Google binge.) I’ve seen Forks Over Knifes and Food, Inc. and other films that leave me furious, sad and weary as the credits roll. I’ve read Food Rules, Skinny Bitch and The Kind Life. I’ve been informed about the meat industry and studies linking animal bi-products to disease. I’ve thought about changing my lifestyle and becoming a VEGAN but, honestly, my enthusiasm for kale, quinoa, spirulina and acai berries haven’t been backed with the energy to only.eat.plants.

So? I’ve decided to go on a voyage. I’m not committing to any one lifestyle yet (hence the VEG voyage… I’m haven’t fully decided if it will stand for vegetarian, vegan or Very much into Eating Grass fed animals #forlife). Instead I will be going on a journey to see if I really need meat and/or dairy in my life.

Right now I eat meat and dairy relatively regularly but consider myself to be pretty health conscious. I only buy organic half and half for my morning coffee and substitute almond milk for baking, hot coco and cereals. I am obsessed with the perfect gems that are vegetables. I eat at home 80% of the time, plan my meals and try to shop at farmer’s markets as much as possible. In 2014 (and again in 2015), my S.O. and I made a new years resolution to only buy fresh cut meat from Whole Foods. I took it a step farther and only buy organic. However, sometimes I can’t resist the convenience, deliciousness and price of the $4 Trader Joe’s chicken sausages.

It’s a give and a take, after all.

But despite my overall good intentions and efforts to eat healthfully, mindfully, and balanced, I have this nagging feeling that I could be doing better. While my diet is mostly balanced, pretty healthy, and takes a lot of brainpower to shop, plan, prep and eat accordingly, I feel I am missing a huge piece of the puzzle; compassion.

I am a big believer in the old saying, you are what you eat. Because, well, you literally are! According to WebMD, our skin regenerates itself appropriately every 27 days. I believe your skin is regenerated from the cells in your body that are formed by the food that you eat. Therefore, for me, it makes sense to want to eat high nutrient, high quality foods because I believe they literally become me. Based on this, I eat a salad almost every day and consume as many whole, real foods as possible. This lifestyle puts me in good health but what about the rest? What about the health of our planet and the animals I do eat. Where’s the brainpower dedicated to these issues? Where’s the compassion in my diet, my fuel, literally my life, for other living things? THIS is what The Veg Voyage is going to be about.

The definition of the word voyage is “[to] go on a long journey, typically by sea or in space.” And although I am not traveling by boat or rocket ship, this will be a long journey of rewriting food habits, resisting a few temptations along the way, and, of course, slipping off course now and again. My final detestation? I’m not entirely sure… Will I give up animal bi-products altogether for the rest of my life? Maybe! But for right now,that’s too big of a concept (and a lifestyle change!) to grasp, so I’m starting …small. (Plus, I’m going to a wedding tomorrow and checked the box next to the filet… A give and a take, remember?)

I’ve decided my first step (starting March, 1st 2015) is to stop eating meat anywhere but my house. This makes sense to me because I can control this meat consumption and can make sure it is top quality. As mentioned, buying organic meat is already pretty much the norm on my grocery runs, however, I don’t have any standards when it comes to meat outside of my house and I want to change that.

Step one on The Veg Voyage? Public vegetarian.

I don’t anticipate this being overly difficult as I’m not much of a meat eater anyway. Just a few tweaks to some eating-out favorites and I’m golden. (BTW, I live in California, where the vegetarian and vegan fair is plentifully!) On another note, given that I only want to eat meat at home because I know it will be organic and probably grass fed, I’m going to say it’s fine to eat meat out (or at a friend’s house) if I know it’s held to these standards.

Sooooooo, what’s the point of all of this again!?

The Veg Voyage is two-fold. First, I want to become a more compassionate consumer, for both animals and the earth. I believe that by cutting at least my meat intake, and then maybe my dairy, I am impacting the planet in a positive way. My second reason for eliminating animal bi-products is health! Simply put, a more plant-based diet resonates with me in promoting better health. Also, let’s face it, grapes are plants… And any lifestyle that doesn’t eliminate wine is alright with me!

#VegOut

♡ Ashley

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