18663 Ventura Blvd, Suite 202, Tarzana CA 91356

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Perfect Vegan

If you take birth control pills, or just about any pill for that matter, there's a lactose binder.

If you develop photos, I believe gelatin is still used in the processing.

If you ever drive a car, you're going to splatter a few bugs on your windshield. Heck, even riding my bike I'll get a few bugs splattering on my face or even in my mouth. It happens.

As a doctor, I treat patients with heparin, which is pork-derived. It is often the best option medically for them.

Please know I'm not *that* lax. I went out Tuesday night to an Italian restaurant. I ordered a mushroom pizza without cheese, said please make sure there's no butter at all on this. And for dessert had some sorbet. At the end of the meal, I was sure to thank our waiter plentifully for taking care of my vegan needs. I didn't annoy my waiter or my friends I was eating with, kept it simple.

Did the dough conditioner have mono-diglycerides derived from an animal? How about the source of the lecithin for the bread -- soy or animal? Was there some honey in the crust? Was the pizza prepared on the same surface as animal products, and was there possibly cross-contamination? Don't know. What's important to me is that by avoiding the dairy in the pizza that I didn't contribute to the suffering of dairy and veal cows.

To the person who posted that she only eats at vegan restaurants, I wish I could do that. But I live in Boston, with a limited supply of veg/vegan restaurants and a vast majority of friends who do consume meat. Every so often I can take them out to Grasshopper or Buddha's Delight (two vegan restaurants), but not every time.

To me, it's all about the big picture. It's nearly impossible to be perfect.


Harmonia said...

It is impossible. I agree. I always say aspiring vegan.

All one can do is try. I figure trying your hardest is more than most are doing.


I Just wanted to let you know that I have moved my blog to: and will be doing my blogging from there now. I will keep my old blog active for my blogroll, Daily OM, and as a backup. Swing by my new place when you have a minute to say hi! Have a great day!

Lisa said...

One of the things I like most about you is the fact that you're not an extremist. You do what you feel is right for you, and you educate others about things they really should know but would never bother to find out for yourself. This does so much more for your cause (and the beneficiaries of it) than a militant attitude, which is what makes others stop listening. I wouldn't say you're selling out; you've made a lifestyle choice, and the whole point is that you set your own standards. Yours may be different from someone else's, but there's no reason to buy into dogma when you're making a personal choice.

After all, it's the message that matters, isn't it?

Debbie said...

I usually refer to myself (as rarely as I can) as a "vegan at home," meaning I am as strict as I can be when preparing my own food, but I don't sweat it too much when eating away from home -- I choose the items least likely to contain animal products, ask to have the obvious ones left off, and don't question it further. I'm not comfortable as a crusader; it's a personal thing for me.

We have one, count 'em, one vegan restaurant here. It's a wonderful place, and we're lucky to have it, being a small city, but you can't drag folks there every time.

Melody said...

It is totally impossible to be perfect... and I know for a fact, that I will not ask about bread ingredients if I'm eating out or especially if I'm at my MIL's.. (although I always refuse egg bread, but that's because I hate the taste more than the ethics)..
No matter how "good" you are, someone is always "better".. it is in all circles, vegan, parenting.. I swear, I've seen some insane debates between cloth diaper moms and moms who swear by allowing their infant to go without diapers... INSANITY if you ask me. We all do the very best we can, right? If that means that now and then we eat some animal product, so be it. I think the bigger picture matters much more. Hold the cheese, hold the cow.. that is a statement within itself.
I'll let you in on a secret, my husband was at the grocery store recently (a rarity) and he picked me up some soy cheese that had caesin in it. I would never buy something for myself with caesin.. but since he did... and my kids won't eat it.. I'll finish the package.. because it's better than cheese. I'd rather eat the food than throw it away. (I did list it on Freecycle, but no one wanted it)..

Iron Pol said...

Stopped by from the RAPN, as one of your stories was posted.

I spent quite a few years when I was younger as a vegetarian. Not a strict vegan, just a "I'm not eating meat" situation. And it took me a year before I would even say I was vegetarian. I didn't plan on it, it just happened (horrible incident at a camp).

What my friends appreciated is that I didn't attempt to force my lifestyle on them. And they didn't try to change me.

That you put so much thought into this, and do as much as you can, speaks volumes. It will also make things less stressful if circumstances ever led to a change back towards eating meat.

For me, it was boot camp and being told to gain weight or get thrown out of the Navy. In that scenario, the only real sources of protein and useable calories included meat. Since I had never staked my life on the lifestyle, the change, though difficult, was survivable.

The Frugal Vegetarian said...

I am the same as you... with bread, I hope it's vegan if i am thrust into the situation I was in the other day: at a Holiday Inn breakfast buffet where I ordered wheat toast and potatoes (nearly the only vegan options).
It was also a great way to illustrate to my brother how "easy" it is because I want him off meat!!!!

Sweet Pea said...

We try our best to live compassionate lives but it's not always easy and it's not always possible. When eating at someone's home I always mention that I'm vegetarian and offer to bring a food item but I also make sure to respect other people's customs and family life.
I live in a city that has some good vegetarian restaurants but none that are very close. I'm probably the only person among my friends who's vegetarian, therefore, I would rather be among my friends then choose not to go to a restaurant that is not vegetarian. I try my best to eat a meal that has no animal product but that's not always easy so I make the best choice.
You are doing your best and as a doctor your priority is to save human lives and that sometimes may mean prescribing a drug that somehow has affected an animal. We need to value human life as well.

Danielle said...

I refer to myself as an imperfect vegan. I believe I explained myself in a comment on a prior post, so I won't repeat myself. One thing I read in a vegan publication a few years ago was worrying about the biggies -- beef, pork, chicken, fish, their byproducts, gelatin, milk, casein, eggs, albumin -- and not necessarily worry abou tthe smaller ingredients (like mono & diglycerides) because the hope is as more and more people work toward a plant-based diet, these tricky animal items will become less and less common, and they'll have to use plant sources for them.

edgeofnormal said...

I agree with Harmonia, you rock. You set a great example as a doctor, especially a cardiologist, for a healthy lifestyle. Part of being healthy is not obsessing.

Thank you for being a good, balanced example for us!

Mike said...

That's right! Fight the power! I haven't been in that situation, but I have to imagine it's damn near impossible to know the exact contents of everything you're eating. At least when we ordered nachos, we got the meat on the side and Steve would be in charge of taking down the bowl of meat. You always stuck to your guns.

Emily said...

great post! I sometimes feel alienated by vegans who are very strict/extreme because I am "just" a vegetarian. But really, aren't we all doing what we can? We should appreciate the efforts that we all make to whatever extent we feel we can. If I have a friend who gives up meat for a month or two just to give the veg lifestyle a try I am 100% supportive. Everyone has to live their life in a way that makes them feel comfortable and in a way that works for them.

JessieGirl said...

I use the term practical vegan. Meaning I am as vegan as I can be with in practial limits. At home I like being picky about what I eat, prepare, purchase and the products I use but when in the rest of the world I make my vegan requests and don't fret about it. Perfection is impossible.

Great Post!

KleoPatra said...

Exactly! We never know. I try to be careful but i am sure i have eaten out in places that use non-veg stuff somewhere. We can only do what we can do...

JessieGirl said...

Someone asked me about the term practical vegan. When in public I use the term vegan. I try to come across friendIy but committed to my standards. I say nothing about the "zone of allowable exceptions" to which things like restaruant eating fall into. Don't get the wrong idea about me, i am a strict vegan and try hard to stay that way, even when eating out I request no butter and ask about menu items if i am unsure. I only discuss the small exceptions online or with other vegans who would understand the not crucifying myself for the things listed in the post. I mean like the value of birthcontrol, to me, out weighs the lactose binder. does that make sense?

JAM*tacular said...

Bravo. I've been a vegetarian and sometimes-vegan for 16 years, and on occasion, I still have to remind myself of the points you make in this post. Thank you for sharing :)

Urban Vegan said...

appreciate your honesty and human-ness. no one is a perfect vegan.

Gary said...

Matt Ball of Vegan Outreach reminds us that many of the "byproduct" uses of animal ingredients are likely to go away once animal consumption is drastically reduced.

Going vegan is a maninfestation of having compassion and respect for all living beings. Almost by definition, perfection in these areas is impossible. Striving to do one's best, however, is within everyone's grasp. You are - may I say it - a perfect example of how one can do this. Thank you for living and conveying the compassion you feel in your heart.