I have been hesitant to write this post, not because I worry about the “backlash” from it, but because there is so much that I have to say that it almost seems there isn’t time to say it all. After fifteen years of veganism, a milestone that was really important to me and that I feel really proud of, I stopped being vegan.
Although I have drifted from veganism before, it never stuck. While I never considered myself to be a super fanatical vegan, every single time I added animal products into my diet I found that I simply didn’t like the way it felt, both physically and emotionally. I am grossed out by a lot of the things that some people in my life seem to love (cheese, fish, etc.) and that stuff just feels wrong in my mouth, no matter how sustainable the practices of production are. I have not been above trial and error to find this out.
All this considered, I had been toying around with the idea of eating eggs for quite some time. I hadn’t experimented with this before, and I don’t even recall eating many eggs before I went vegan, as I vastly preferred fruit loops to just about any other breakfast option. (Keep in mind I nailed myself to soy milk and tofu at age 14, so all my pre-vegan experiences are basically foods I ate as a kid.) Despite my inexperience, and probably because of the influx of CrossFit and Paleo diets into my life, eggs were suddenly seeming more and more like an option.
Basically, I was starting to not feel awesome. My digestion was absolutely terrible, my workouts briefly energized me before leaving me very VERY tired for the rest of the day, and I was gaining weight- not in an I’m-doing-crossfit-so-I’m-gaining-muscle way (although maybe that was happening as well) but in a my-pants-from-a-year-ago-wont-go-past-my-thighs way. I couldn’t figure out why any of these things would be true considering the fact that I ate a diet that I considered to be pretty pristine anyway and that I had just completed the Whole Life Challenge, which meant I didn’t eat grains, soy, sugar in any form including maple syrup and agave, or processed anything for six weeks.
If that doesn’t feel crappy, I don’t know what does.
I felt defeated, like I was fighting an uphill battle to keep the unhealthy thoughts and patterns of being a person who has had an eating disorder away, get stronger with the help of crossfit, and keep my ethics in line.
Okay, here’s some real talk: I am not interested in letting vanity usurp my ethics. I am not going to go Paleo because it will make my body better. I mean absolutely zero disrespect to the wonderful people in my life who do choose to go this route, but as a person who has placed such importance on how my body looks in the past, it feels imperative to me to put other things first. All this being said, I just don’t have a problem with pasture raised eggs.
Pasture raised is different than Organic. Companies that claim to be Organic can do a lot of sketchy stuff that is both cruel to the chickens and deceitful to the consumer. Here is a little video that I highly encourage you to watch:
Doesn’t that make you fucking mad? I know it totally freaks my shit out to be lied to by big conglomerates. You’re telling me that “access to the outdoors?” is enough? That that tiny little door is sufficient? “Access to the outdoors” doesn’t mean that hens won’t be raised in overcrowded conditions; it doesn’t ensure that chickens will live any part of their lives outdoors, free to peck and scratch or exhibit other natural behavior. This is not enough for those chickens and it’s not enough for me.
A little more information from thenibble.com:
“Organic egg producers are permitted to confine hens “temporarily,” if they deem it necessary to protect soil or water quality, the health or safety of the animals, or “the animal’s stage of production.” Again, no clarification is provided for this terminology. The result? Hens can be “temporarily” confined indoors because of inclement weather. This doesn’t sound bad until you realize that some periods of inclement weather extend for an entire winter in the judgment of producers. These days, hens are also being “temporarily” confined indoors for fear of bio-security and avian flu, neither of which have any foreseeable ending date. Don’t mistake me; both of these are serious concerns, and I’m not making light of either. But I am saying that the USDA standards for organic eggs are weak and vague.”
Also- and I really hate to tell ya’ll this- Organic eggs can be produced by chickens that are debeaked, meaning parts of the beak are sliced off with a hot blade. There is no standard against this in Organic guidelines and a great deal of companies choose to do this, because it is simply more convenient for them. No thanks.
I know, in a post about how I eat eggs, I am telling you why not to eat eggs. Let me cut to the chase:
I eat pasture raised, organic eggs. This means that I have thus far purchased eggs from two sources: Vital brand eggs from Whole Foods (these are available all around the US and are scored at the highest level in The Cornucopia Institute’s egg score card ) and from the barn that my room mate rides horses at. I ate an egg once from a restaurant, and made sure it was to my standards beforehand. I am fully aware of what’s going on with the chickens who produce my eggs and I make informed decisions. It’s expensive- I buy my $8.00 a dozen eggs with food stamps and it hurts every time- but to me, it is important.
How do I feel since I started eating eggs? Well, truthfully, I feel better. My diet was so narrow before that adding eggs literally feels like adding an entire other food group. I have been able to limit my consumption of raw nuts and beans (these being the things that I think were really destroying my digestion) without drastically cutting my calories. With the introduction of eggs I have more protein in my diet and my stomach feels less heavy.
My workouts are always tough, but they were consistently made worse by the fact that I always thought I was going to puke. The gastro intestinal aches and pains that have plagued my workouts have stopped, and now I can just deal with the fact that CrossFit is brutally painful, but usually not in the stomach. I feel like I have one less thing to contend with when I get my sweat on.
It’s an adjustment. I am still getting used to thinking of myself as not vegan. I do not plan to add other animal products to my diet. If anything, researching what eggs I would like to eat made me more serious about my food politics, especially concerning animal products. I am excited to see what happens with my strength gains and I am sad to say that I’m pretty sure that a 100% vegan diet doesn’t really work for me right now. I am really fucking happy my stomach doesn’t hurt so much and I am still super stoked on vegetables.