a little is a lot

live love eat balloons

{live love eat balloons by anek}

if you follow me on the old twitter thang, you might know that my mister recently decided to start eating vegan. i'm a supporter of both all things healthy and him, so it made me excited, but quickly made me wonder, 'what does this mean for me'? since i'm the cook, it certainly has some heavy implications for our dinners at home. but remembering why i think being vegan is such a good idea in the first place, i quickly decided to at least give it a try. why not? i find myself emotionally attached to dairy (but no longer meat, as i gave that up a long time ago). but isn't that kind of strange? why are we as a culture so attached to dairy? no other culture in the world is! i think i can live without it. especially with all the yummy alternatives there are these days.

but i immediately started being self-conscious of what people would think. i didn't want to tell anyone. more important then them just thinking i was a real quack, i didn't want them to judge me. saying your vegan these days comes with a pretty hefty toll. people judge. and hard. i can just hear them saying, "you say you're vegan but you're wearing leather shoes?" and then immediately dismissing me. i don't think that's fair.

in fact, i still plan on eating honey. local, raw, organic honey. it's good and incredibly good for you (remember?).

i still own some leather shoes and david will still wear is favorite leather belt. we're not perfect. we drive a big nasty car that only gets 20 miles to the gallon. i'm not proud of that, but you know what? i am proud of what we ARE doing. and i'm proud of each and every little thing that you are doing.

why are people so often negative to people who are trying to do good? i guess what i'm saying is that i don't like labels. vegetarian, raw foodist, vegan, paleo, locavore, freegan, pescatarian, fruititarian (just google these for some fun reads). if you can stick to it, great. but i think by labeling ourselves, we sign ourselves up for failure- and maybe (just maybe) even to be judged by others.

i'm interested in being the healthiest i can be. does that most closely resemble a vegan diet? yes. will it always? probably not. might i get chickens again and eat gorgeous, local and organic eggs right from my own back yard? probably.

i want to celebrate the good things. i want to lift up every conscious decision we as human beings make- no matter how great or how small. i'm proud of anyone who cares, even if it's just by a little.

so what do you do? i want to hear about it. do you have meatless mondays at your house? did you bike to work? pee in the shower to save water? did you pass up one burger from a fast food restaurant last week? did you buy something organic? support a local farm?

even if it's one decision, one time- i think it makes a huge difference and i want to know about it. i want to celebrate you.

on the flip side: even though you're a vegetarian, did you eat a piece of meat last week? confession time! are you vegans hiding honey in your cabinets? any paleo's out there still eating chocolate? i know you're out there, so fess up! i'll start in the comments section.

i want to start erasing labels and removing stereotypes from those of us who are just trying to do some good. we're not perfect. i want to acknoledge the greatest gift we have on this earth- the ability to make our own decisions about what we will and will not put in our mouths.

i want to celebrate you!

i'll 'meat' you in the comments section.

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  • i guess people would call me a ‘vegan’, but i would prefer ‘in search of optimal health‘. i still eat honey, wear leather shoes, hope to own my own chickens again soon and plan to loosen my belt a bit when visiting other’s homes.
    your turn!

  • I am mostly vegan – but like you, I have an attachment to dairy, mostly cheese for me and a couple times a week I end up with some on my plate. I went to Cold Stone Creamery recently and scarfed down a bowl of super yummy dairy, and refused to feel bad about it. haha

    I have kept my leather shoes, bags, belts, and what not, but I will not buy any thing NEW that is leather. Vintage all the way for leather and wool for me.

    I usually say I’m “vegetarian” because people don’t look at me quite as strange as when I say “vegan.” People do judge you for your choices and as I’m a mostly vegan prius driving yoga instructor, I get plenty of judgement, some good and some not so good.

    I think the worst thing we can do in life is judge one another – we are all just doing the best we can, and we need to support one another the best we can. Love!!

  • Bonnie! Vegan sounds so TOUGH! You know, I so wonder about where the judgement thing comes from – I find myself often having opinions about other people’s dietary choices (when they have an option – allergies are a whole ‘nother deal!) and I often where they come from (and try my best to keep those opinions silent unless asked).

    I think some of it comes from the judgement that is often implied when someone tells you they’re ________ (vegetarian, vegan, locavore, whatever). Often times it’s implied that they are better than you/doing more for the planet/etc… so I find myself evaluating/judging, and often scratching my head at their decision, because their reasoning is often based on very little understanding of the larger issue.

    (NOT in your case by the way, you’re being really low key about all this).

    I’ve got a co-worker who is vegan…and she does no cooking. All she eats are these pre-packaged things from Trader Joes…she has no idea whats in it, how it’s made, how much oil was used to package and transfer that item to the store, etc…

    WHY do I care about what she eats? Because when we have parties, hubby and I put a lot of thought into the food we prepare, and we do our best to make everybody welcome, and it’s hard to do when we don’t cook vegan! She doesn’t care, but I do.

    I think that we as a species are hardwired to feed and care for other people. And because humans evolved as ommivores, we have centuries of cultural history that includes all sorts of foods. We’ve got a huge investment in eating so we don’t die, and all that gets tied up in what we do today.

    Man oh MAN this is rambling, and probably doesn’t make much sense, but I was trying to answer your questions! :-) I guess the brief answer would be that for me and my family, we strive to eat as little processed & fast food as possible, we take pride in cooking tasty, balanced meals, and we are working very hard to instill this self sufficiency in our boys!

  • I love that you want to celebrate the good things people do instead of focusing on what we are NOT doing! I think I remember you posting the thing about being a Qualitarian and that is as close to a label as I would ever put on myself.
    My husband and I think about what we are eating, do the research to find out where most of it is coming from, and enjoy all aspects of food. We are lucky that we live in an area with SO much local foods from small, organic farmers–meats too! Our thought is a little meat and A LOT of veggies. We only eat meat maybe once or twice a week and I am ok with that.
    Many “diets” make no sense to me anyway. For instance, how far do vegans take it? Because a lot of the veggies people eat only grow because they are pollinated…by insects. Or the paleo diet. Our friend was doing this until we pointed out to him that this diet is actually impossible because NOTHING that they ate back then exists today. And our bodies have evolved in a way that it doesn’t make health sense anyway.
    So, in the end, I would say we eat conciously!!!
    And I totally agree with you that even if someone is only doing one thing, it makes a huge difference on the whole!

  • I love this post! I totally agree that people should label less and judge less and just be the best person they can be. My husband and I have gone through it all from eating meat, to a 100% raw food diet, veganism to pescetarianism. Right now we eat a mostly vegan diet, with some cheese here and there but I do plan on trying to go on a mostly raw diet after my pregnancy. Honestly, I have never felt healthier or more alive than when I was on a raw food diet.. it just made sense. Not to mention all of my aches and pains disappeared and I was losing a pound a day without even trying!

    Have you heard of the book “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer? I’m halfway through it right now and I really recommend it to just about anyone. It’s a non-fiction about the author’s journey with the food industry (especially factory farming) and the conclusions that he comes to. Most people that finish the book turn into Vegans! It’s an easy read and it’s done by the same author who wrote “Everything is Iluminated”.

  • candy– love your comment! and i completely understand, it is so tough to cook for difficult diets! i strive to be a very conscious and polite ‘vegan’- and either eat what is given to me or bring my own grub. haha. education is key, but i hope to inspire everyone (including myself) to stop judging and be thankful for the fact that someone is doing at least something, regardless of how ignorant they might be? she may be eating tons of bad ingredients and causing things to be shipped in from afar, but at least she’s trying, right? we can only hope that people like this are at the beginning of their road to education and conscious decisions.
    let’s face it- people make uninformed, ignorant decisions and then like to talk about how awesome they are.
    on that note: us with dietary restrictions need to be ever so careful never to lord it over others. we are all (hopefully) trying to achieve our ‘best’ selves and this will always look different for every person. right?!

  • jenn– yeah for your conscious eating! i celebrate you. :)

    again though, we gotta appreciate that people are trying, don’t we? bless them. ;) (and us) for we all have so much to learn!

  • you are completely right! even my questioning those diets was judging in a sense…darn! need to stop that. honestly though, I am always inspired by people’s strength and willpower even if I don’t understand the specifics. I wish I didn’t love bacon so much!

  • haha, i need to stop it too jenn! seriously, when we care about these things it’s so easy to have strong opinions about them. enjoy your bacon! haha :)

  • This post definitely hits home for me. I guess I am a pescitarian that tries not to eat dairy but has a cheese weakness :) ha! I find that people Im out to eat with are scared/uncomfortable telling me how good their meat dishes are. Of course I want them to enjoy their food! I am not judgmental in the slightest the way I eat makes me feel better and that is why I do it…I also live in Chicago so I dont think that helps peoples uncomfortableness with my food choices ;)

    • katie, i feel you! it’s interesting to me that people’s food choices can make other people so uncomfortable. we just want everyone to be healthy and feel good!

  • well, we’re trying to eat less meat. I wish I could do so using less packaged stuff, but I’m just not there yet. I found some really yummy vegetarian spring rolls in the freezer section, so we eat those once every 1-2 wks w/rice and salad. I’ve also been trying to add in more fish, but after living on an island and getting fish right off the boat for so long…well the frozen stuff I can get now is just…ih, uninspiring.

    I do appreciate your posts on this topic b/c it’s pushing me. Since moving to central Germany, food just sort of depresses me now; it’s so hard to find my food-groove here, so I’ve been struggling. It’s also hard when my husband just revels in the typical German food of pork, cheese, white potato, and cream sauces. Thanks for the nudge!

  • anytime, juliette! i love your story, and would love to know more about that boat! do i remember that you’re living on a base? i’m sure it’s so hard to find great ingredients, but it sounds like you’re doing a good job. :) keep it up!

  • as a SAHM, person who loves to cook, and person who cares a great deal about what our family eats I do a lot of meal planning, food prep, cooking, baking, and dishes (blah to that part!) so this past summer I decided we should eat out one night each week – a little break for me.

    but late this January the hubby and I decided that maybe that wasn’t the healthiest or most cost effective decision I ever made…so we declared February NO eating out month…we had one night that was an exception as our family had dinner plans with others that were made long before…other than that I planned and cooked 83 meals for our family of four in the month of February!

    the hubbby took his lunch to work every day, the littlest and I ate lunch at home before getting the groceries each Wednesday, and for dinner when we were craving the local BBQ joint, I made that meal (as closely as possible) at home! don’t get me wrong – I was TIRED by the end and on March 1 we went out for dinner :)

    BUT…we have now decided that it went so well we will shoot for one lunch and 1-2 dinners out each month. better for our health and our bank account! (btw: we estimate a $250-300 savings for food costs in the month of February!)

    and bonnie, I love what you said: “we are all (hopefully) trying to achieve our ‘best’ selves and this will always look different for every person.”

  • thanks Bonnie! no, we’re not on a base -I married a German =) And the boat: I used to live in an harbor town north of Boston, so all the fishermen sold their stuff at little markets, it was great!

  • jes- i love this story! you make me laugh, i bet you did go out march 1st! i feel ya though, my hub eats so much, i probably cook for 4 already, lol. what a huge savings and testament to how we should think twice about going out. also, i think it’s kind of fun (though laborious) to try to recreate favorite restaurant meals! i’ve even e-mailed them before for their recipes, ahah. i celebrate you!

  • I like this. I am very mindful of my own food decisions, and I am equally mindful about my human relationships in this life. If my choices become an imposition, I can easily drop them for the sake of a meaningful relationship. I do pee in the shower every morning, but it’s the first stop before the toilet so I don’t really have water conservation on my mind. However, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down.”

  • I sit here writing this after just getting home from a dinner out with my family that included meat(red meat even :)With that confessed, I feel my healthy eating habits are in their infancy. Although, I do strive to cut out processed foods,frequent the local farmer’s markets and guide my children with the idea of balance and moderation in their diet. I also try hard to buy organic at least with fruits and veggies. Starting our own garden has been one of our efforts most enjoyed by the children!

    I think people who judge these decisions tend to think these decisions limit choices and close doors to options in life and it seems to me to be the exact opposite. As I live this “journey” I find as I make these mindful choices they lead me to new exciting choices and experiences and not only in my diet, but in all aspects of my life!

    A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

  • oh, my gosh you are so right – I had tons of fun recreating the dining out meals…my oldest got really into that part and was often giving me challenges! :)
    have you had luck when you emailed for recipes???!!! my littlest and I love the cucumber salad at Noodles…we’d do nearly anything to get our hands on that recipe…I can’t seem to get the spice combo quite right…

  • what a wonderful post!! :)

    here at the hainline household, we:
    -pee in the shower to save water (and tp, and time!)
    -drink organic white milk and almond chocolate milk (omg yum)
    -use reusable shopping bags (well, i do, i’m still trying to train the man, but he atleast stopped throwing the plastics away so i can go recycle them)
    -save every little piece of clean dry paper, every bottle, even slim fast cans (with the plastic AROUND the tin – how stupid!) to recycle or sometimes reuse
    -i try my best to only buy as much food as i can eat before it goes rotten or stale. this sounds easy but i have a much bigger appetite when i’m at the store, and cooking sounds so fun until i get home, tired, starving, and walk into a kitchen filled with dirty pots and pans

    when we have kiddos, we’ll use cloth diapers :)


  • Potlucks are tough. We just went to one at my hubby’s work – every single other person is a meat eater – and they were all so concerned about making something I could eat. I’m only one person, and I can make do! I don’t want people changing what they do for me. I ended up bringing an awesome vegan main dish, and everyone loved it, but I assured them all I didn’t mind one bit they were all eating meaty things there, too.

    I *try* to make it easy for me and for everyone around me and just go with the flow as much as I can. But I when I have the opportunity I offer to make yummy dishes and show that not all vegan food is lettuce or tofu or “weird.”

  • I totally understand where you’re coming from. I’m a vegetarian, but have considered going vegan. Like you, it’s the dairy that is hard to imagine living without. And eggs. As a vegetarian, eggs have been an important source of protein for me – I don’t know how to give them up!

    My husband – an avid meat eater – recently told me he wants to try being a vegetarian. This is surprising to me, because he comes from a big, meat-eating family, and he’s always gently teased me for not eating meat. He wants to try vegetarianism for his health. So far, he’s still slipping up a lot and eating meat, but he’s eating a lot less, and that’s good.

    People always assume I’m a vegetarian for political or philosophical reasons, but I’m not. At age 12, I became grossed out by a piece of meat, and haven’t been able to eat it again since – especially beef and chicken. Occasionally, I will eat some bacon, because in the Midwest I swear they put bacon in everything. At weddings and graduation parties, you go to get a scoop of the green beans, and there’s bacon in them (???).

    But anyway, anytime anyone questions me about it, I just say, it’s for personal reasons and some health reasons – it’s not political. Not that there’s anything wrong with being vegetarian/vegan for animal rights, but it’s really not hypocritical to not want to eat a hamburger, but still wear a leather belt.

  • I agree whole-heartedly. My approach has been more of a homesteading type approach. If I can’t afford something (like certain organic produce) do I need it, can I substitute something else, or can I grow my own? Same applies to all my purchases in my life, even craft supplies!

    I’ve been focusing as much as possible on what stuff I don’t need to buy and how I could make my own. And if I can’t make my own, do I really need it or can I find it locally? It has been both difficult and eye opening to see how much of my income goes to things I ~think~ I need.

    Also, as for your car, I don’t think you should focus on the fuel economy of it as much as focus on what you are saving by driving an older vehicle. New cars use so many resources to produce, when they are many equally efficient small used cars that are already in circulation. We drive junky old small cars and while it took me awhile to sort of get over the stigma that is attached to when people see me pull up someplace next to a brand new shiny something, I got over it once I realized the positives…I don’t have a car payment and that allows me to focus my resources elsewhere! YAY!

  • I have been a vegan for 3 years and a vegetarian for 8. I cook almost all of my food from scratch and am very conscious of what I am putting into my body. I want to tell you all that it is NOT HARD TO GIVE UP DAIRY! In reality, it has been scientifically proven that dairy is not a necessary food for our diet and is somewhat detrimental. However, I understand the connection to these foods and how difficult it can seem to overcome them. I am an ethical vegan, and honestly I think it would be very difficult to eat a vegan diet if you are not morally passionate about it. If it is for health reasons it can be very easy to slip into eating non-vegan foods.

    I am sorry that some of you have had bad experiences with vegans. It is frustrating for me because I go out of my way to make delicious, healthy foods that people enjoy (and let me say vegan food is REGULAR food! Grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds…)

    To the commenter above that didn’t want to cook for the vegan, just try some vegan recipes! There are tons and tons of wonderful cookbooks out there.

    Finally, (I know this is a long post)but I think some of the judgement or frustrations of vegans and vegetarians is when people call themselves so, yet go and eat an egg or some chicken. That is great if you eat a “mostly” vegan diet, but please don’t confuse people by saying you are vegan and then eating cheese.

    Again, I totally support people eating non-vegan diets if they are aware of where their food comes from and try to make conscious choices. None of us are perfect and especially not the vegans :)

  • Hello,

    I have a slightly different take on all of this. I used to be incredibly judgmental about what people ate and about what I ate. This all changed in the last few months when I became very ill and my diet became limited to ensure and bready things. I feel so embarrassed when I go to restaurants and try to oder something I eat because I fear people are judging me. This is when I came to the realization that it is so closed minded to judge other people by what they are eating because we have no way of knowing why they are eating that way. Some people may only eat processed food because food is not as important to them as other things in their life. Some people may only eat french fries because that is all their stomach will tolerate. Who are we to say that they are wrong for those choices, we might make the exact same ones if we were in their shoes and lived with the complications of their lives. I am so happy for people who can eat how they want to eat and not feel guilty about it due to the judgments of others.

  • hi kristina! i love your take on this- i read it out loud to my husband and he agrees with you. i feel like this life makes me feel healthier and opens doors for us, not close them as well. :)
    hey jes! i have had success, several times! they have all been at mom-and-pop joints though, so i’m not sure that a chain would share theirs… but maybe! i just tell them how much i love their particular item and that i live far away (b/c i always have) and they have always given it to me. haha!

  • hey ashley! yeah for you and your husband! he’s getting there, it sounds like. :) people do make assumptions when they hear i’m a veg, and i hate that as well. my reasons are health and sustainability- but i’m so not a political person. interesting!
    hey jessica! thanks so much for this post! i agree with most of everything you said, and i too have read these articles about dairy. i don’t think it should be hard for anyone to give up dairy (especially with all the substitutions out there) but i would say that you have to be passionate about it to do so. i think we have been raised as a nation to be emotional attached to dairy, and our minds explode when we consider giving it up. but when i thought of it that way, i DID NOT want to be emotionally attached to meat or dairy- it seems weird to me. vegans can still have barbecue’s, celebrate the 4th of july and have the best thanksgiving dinner ever! yes, you have to put more thought into what you eat, but YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT, so why wouldn’t you want to care about these things? there are many reasons to go veg/vegan, and mine are not particularly for animal rights (hence i still eat honey) but more so for sustainability reasons. however, when you start caring about industry farming, you quickly start caring about how terribly the animals are being treated, so for me, it quickly becomes one in the same. now I’M rambling!
    i’ll also add that it really is easy to cook vegan (or to cook for vegans), just don’t let it stress you out! think things like stir-frys, burritos (no cheese), chili, vegetable pasta, even spaghetti w/out beef! easy peasy. ;)

  • brittany, LOVE THIS! thank you for adding to our conversation. one of my favorite quotes has always been,
    “if i were you, i would be making the same exact choices.”
    and it’s so true! which really means, we can’t judge anyone for anything, period.
    my dad has IBS and fresh veggies and fruits literally tear him up. he tries to do what he can, but it’s really hard on him. you never know what someone might be going through!

  • anna marie- yeah! love all these things, great job!!
    jess- i feel you! i never want people to worry about it, and i also want to show them how delicious and ‘normal’ vegan food can be. yum yum!
    barbara- love the homesteading technique! growing your own, buying local, and doing without is so sustainable, eye opening and fun. great job!
    christy- ha! love your outlook. :) btw- i always try to flush our commodes when i know people are coming over, who knows how much pee could be in there! hehe gross.

  • Jess,

    The doctors still don’t know for sure. A lot of things have been ruled out but I am currently being tested for Addison’s disease which is an adrenal problem.

    I have been sick for about 8 months so I am really hoping this is what is it so I can get treated and get back to eating big salads.


  • I know I am late in the game, but I have three children 4 and under with one on the way soooo…this is when I had time to read :)
    I read “Eat To Live” and it was completely eye opening. I tried so hard to start taking out meat and felt great about it! But then, I ran out of things to make (I’ll read more on the comments to see what recipes there are out there). I felt like a failure and it still stresses me out with every bite of meat my children eat.
    I do not want my kids to eat mostly bread, either as that’s low in nutrition.
    I eat meat rarely, but I do! I do it and in the back of my head I am grossed out. Mostly because of all the knowledge I have, now.
    Not ready to go all out in not eating eggs (kids love them and I buy vegan/organic). I am not a fan.
    We also cut out dairy for the most part as all it does for me and a few of my kids is create a coating in my throat that I have to constantly clear out for about an hour after I eat anything dairy.
    Thanks for the post! Love reading more on this topic :)

  • Such an interesting conversation! I so enjoy hearing from more “normal” people who are vegan/vegetarian/etc. Because honestly most I’ve ever met are weird/hypocritical/etc and some smell strange (possibly not their diet, who knows..eep!). The more I learn about all this the more I’m working toward conscious choices about what I eat. I’ve always HATED meat with bone (ie chicken wings) and even THAT makes me feel judged by others. Now it’s a whole new ball game because I’m officially a “meat snob” and eat it less and less. Is it bad I don’t mind that label???

    Last thing! From the convo it looks like some WANT the label. Like dreading giving up dairy just to be called a vegan? No need to stress!!! Like Bonnie is saying, just be a person wanting optimal health. Sounds like a great label to me!

  • hey breena! sounds like you’re struggling with some ideas, but definitely on the right track! to go vegetarian with kids i would suggest things like spaghetti, mac and cheese, burritos, pizza, veggie pastas, potato cakes, veggie burgers, and chili and soups. i also have several cookbooks that i just love! one of my favorites is called ‘simple vegetarian pleasures’ and everything i’ve ever made in it has been incredible. one of my favorites is their sweet potato chile, yum! let me know if that helps or you have any questions!

  • beryl- great idea!
    amanda- haha you made me laugh so hard! not to be completely stereotypical (but here goes…) but there does seem to be two overriding kinds of veg/vegans. not to say that there aren’t other ‘kinds’ or those who fall b/t the lines, but {stereotypically} i have vegan friends who are hippies- you know the ones that don’t shave or wear deodorant, and therefore often smell like b.o. (sometimes covered up by patchouli). and then i have friends who are more ‘modern-day’ vegans who make these decisions for the health of their bodies and the health for their planets, and not necessarily for political reasons. again, i hate typing this b/c it’s so stereotypical! but does that make sense? and i promise, the diet doesn’t make you smell weird- haha. people get caught up with labels and also wanting to be portrayed with a certain genre, but again i think we should walk the walk for health, not for anyone elses opinions.
    also, have you read (my favorite article) on the femivore’s dilemma? it’s not about veg/veganism but is about a new kind of highly educated, conscious woman. i think you might enjoy it!

  • OMG I am a femivore! Or at least on the road to becoming one. Great article, thanks so much for pointing it out again. And yes your stereotypes actually fit really well with my experiences. I’ve just become friends with a few more “modern-day” vegan-ish families and I’m so fascinated with seeing people live out this type of life!

  • Just had to comment that I love this attitude here. I’m not against labels necessarily– It helps people who have a specific lifestyle commitment find resources to maintain it– But I always tell people that I’m not a vegetarian, I just eat less meat. The lack of argument that ensues always makes me breathe a sigh of relief.

    Well, except for a few of my vegetarian friends who insist on waiting until I become vegetarian. But even they still allow me the choice.

  • I ride my bike to work and I try my best to reduce my carbon footprint on the world!

    I look forward to trying some of your recipes. I’m not a vegetarian – but I do that the grocery store meat is horribly wrong. It is rubbery and it has a chemical taste to it – very frightening. I want to eat less meat and have a better quality of life – so glad I found your blog via sfgirlbybay!