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Veganism/veganism and vegetarianism

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I am going to tell you my background with this and then ask the question:

I had naturally been apprehensive to meat when I was younger.
I liked to eat, but I didn't really like meat (aside from the taste).
Then, 6th grade came along, and I started having problems: depression, suicidal and many other things.
Along with that, a lot of changes were entering my life: I was about to enter junior high, and I had insomina.
Then, I decided to become vegetarian and aneorexic.
To tell you the truth, I wasn't a complete vege a first.
I was "98% vege", meaning that I ate hotdogs/hamburgers/chicken nuggets/bacon/top ramen soup.
In seventh grade, I became full-fledged vege, and continued to have problems.
In eighth grade, I turned my life around, and was the food nazi: no hfcs, and no meat, healthy as you can be.
Then I started running in 9th grade, that brought problems of enough energy, so I just ate more.
(Oh and I have ran ever since in xc and track up until senior year 2nd semester, now I am training for a marathon).
10th grade came, and I found out that cheese had rennet....so I stopped eating it.
11th grade came, and I learned about gelatin....stopped eating it.
12th grade 1st semester: (btw, I was slower this year), I have stopped eating yeast (they eat things unlike plants, they seem too much like an animal).
Now, I am scared to eat eggs (not because anyone told me anything which I DON'T WANT TO KNOW), or anything with them in it: bread, pasta, brownies....
Right now I am reduced to Potatoes/rice/beans and some fruits/veges.
I want to eat yeast again, and I might want to eat the things with eggs in it(because I used to LOVE pasta and bread)....thing is, I can't.
I am not that caring of a person, I am just slightly autistic and I have sensory issues and images get burned easily in my mind....

Here is my question(s):
Should I see a psychologist since my food issues are probably related to my mental issues?
Do you know any fast vegan runners?
Have you ever seen any of your vegan friends be forced to eat meat or the such( because I read this one story of this girl who was a vegan runner, and she started dying from it, and they MADE her eat the stuff)?
Do you ever think that it is disgusting to eat the animals, or is it just a moral/environmental/health choice for you?
How would I even eat like that @ college, I am going soon and everyone is broke there + my parents want to put me in the dorms and I doubt that there are many vegan options there?
How did you tell your parents that you were becoming vegan?
Were you a vegetarian before you were vegan and (if it doesn't include any of the details about gross stuff) what made you switch....do you have any other stories?
Oh, and hat about on dates, how do you eat, isn't it awkward?
Any other pieces of advice?

I know that it is a lot of info, and a lot of questions but I would REally appreciate if you could help me out, I'm hungry/desperate/and I just gotta figure this out before college.

Thanks!

Answer
Hi Carrisa,
Firstly, THANK YOU for choosing a lifestyle that is true to our compassionate, caring HEARTS! I am convinced that if us humans could put aside our greedy, selfish nature, much more than 50% of us would be vegans (instead of the current 1-2% world wide!) Consider yourself a pioneer/trailblazer for our species...(in the same league as those who fought for women's rights, anti slavery/black people's rights and such)
On to your question(s)
Should I see a psychologist since my food issues are probably related to my mental issues?
My expertise is really about veganism/cooking/baking---whether you NEED professional psychological counseling or nor...I can ONLY give you an OPINION: You seem to be curious, involved and motivated to grow, improve your self (College, taking control of your diet), so I truly believe if you were PROPERLY nourished for 3-5 weeks first, and started feeling great, you would NOT need psychological help, assess your self, feelings after you've been properly fed for a couple of months!

Do you know any fast vegan runners?
Yes! not just runners, but a whole LIST of vegan athletes! Starting with CARL LEWIS! Here is a link that actually lists all these athletes....
http://www.bestveganguide.com/vegan-athletes.html

Have you ever seen any of your vegan friends be forced to eat meat or the such( because I read this one story of this girl who was a vegan runner, and she started dying from it, and they MADE her eat the stuff)?
I'm in my early 50's...as a general rule, adults do not force other adults in this way. But on a related note, when I was in my early teens~15 or so, a few of my friends did try to force a piece of pepperoni into my mouth as we were sharing a pizza that had cheese and veggies on my half, and the yukky stuff on their side. Some friends, eh? Just kidding, I got over it after about 2 months, don't hold it against them---actually lost touch with these friends by my late 20's.

Do you ever think that it is disgusting to eat the animals, or is it just a moral/environmental/health choice for you?
Not only do I think its disgusting to eat animals, I feel its an immature, 'BACKWARD' soul that chooses to inflict the level of horror that our modern food system inflicts on our fellow 'packages of consciousness'! (I hold that ALL LIFE is essentially equal, and we have had recorded history of the opposite view, leading our species to the edge of self destruction as we now find our selves!)

How would I even eat like that @ college, I am going soon and everyone is broke there + my parents want to put me in the dorms and I doubt that there are many vegan options there?
THIS IS MY EXPERTISE!! Get ready for a long read!!!!
Focus on the idea that you will actually save $ in the long run--since you are in the USA, where Health Care is not 'free' like here in Canada....and the wee bit extra you pay now for your diet on a monthly basis will pay off in spades as you age.
As long as you have some method of heating your food (including a m'wave) you can nourish yourself so much better than ANYTHING that will be available on campus. Don't look at food as 'breakfast, lunch, dinner'---but more along the lines of protein, carbs, fiber, essential fats, micro nutrients.
You can never have enough micronutrients (fresh veggies basically--including frozen, canned as budget, seasonal availability dictate)
Carbs NEED to be the 'good' carbs---baked potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, millet, WHOLE GRAIN breads and pasta--in moderation.
Protein: The 'fake' meats (veggie burgers, hot dogs and such) even the vegan ones, I consider more of a treat (less than once a month!)--really they are PROCESSED 'McFoods'---just 'cause something is vegan doesn't make it healthy! Dry roasted soy beans, chick peas and such are readily available, and if you mix these with dry roasted peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, you will always have a high protein 'ready to eat' snack! I add spices and keep a container in my car--perfect treat for my rescued Greyhound Brandy too!
Essential fats: You do NOT need to buy the hemp/flax oils or such--whole flax seeds, whole nuts and seeds in small amounts are a far better choice! (and tasty too!)
So here are some ideas to implement in your dorm life:
Canned beans and legumes for protein (if you can find a way to soak dry ones and cook your own, all the better for your health, and much cheaper!) A favourite of mine are red lentils....cook in 20 minutes, and you don't need to pre soak them even! Small amounts of tofu, TVP, tempeh and frozen edamame will give you plenty of choice.
Potatoes (including sweet potatoes), and all the whole grains I mentioned earlier, very easy to cook, and in a pinch you can even use the parboiled rice (there is actually brown parboiled rice available now!).
Veggies:Carrots, onions, celery and the leafy greens (Kale, collards, cabbage, Swiss Chard) are usually available year round, relatively low $.
Think of your meals/snacks a day or even 2 ahead...prepping ahead of time means you will always have items that you can grab, and avoid temptation of bad/unhealthy choices.
So here are some simple ideas to combine all the ingredients above:
A wrap with peanut butter and raisins, made up the night before--perfect breakfast or mid morning snack!
Whole grain oats, soaked from the night before, barely 2 minutes in the m'wave next morning---a splash of soy milk and some sunflower seeds/ raisins and cinnamon--perfect breakfast!
Large baked potato (4 minutes in a m'wave), top with 1/2 cup of cooked beans, add some chopped tomatoes, onions, and dress with sunflower oil, vinegar or lemon juice and your favourite spices. (I find a pre mix of oregano, garlic powder, black pepper and cayenne works wonders when I'm in an 'Italian' mood, a pre mix of turmeric, corrainder, cumin, black pepper and cayenne answer my 'curry cravings'. You can always add fresh parsley to the Italian, fresh Cilantro to the curry one too!)
There are a lot of salsas, 'Thai' sauces and such on the shelves...if you have a small fridge, you're off to the races! (Buy only 1 or 2 varieties at a time, buy a new one ONLY AFTER YOU'VE finished one--so you won't get into a situation of 6 jars with 2 spoons in each at the bottom!)
With summer just around the corner, a bit of cooked grains, some pan fried tofu topped with shredded carrots, lettuce and chopped tomatoes is just fantastic--dress as your mood suits!
If you need more ideas/further info. here, just lemme know, I don't want to go on too long here!

How did you tell your parents that you were becoming vegan?
Luckily, I was raised a vegetarian by my parents (Hindu), and my younger sister had decided to go vegan before me in the mid 90's...with the idea of compassion extending to dairy cows as the main 'selling point'

Were you a vegetarian before you were vegan and (if it doesn't include any of the details about gross stuff) what made you switch....do you have any other stories?
Actually seeing my sister get healthier and being active with the Toronto Vegetarian Ass'n, going vegan was inevitable---I fought it for about 2-3 years 'cause I LOVED the taste of cheese, milk chocolate and eggs! Since I am a baker/pastry chef it was quite difficult initially, but all good things are worth the fight! Really nothing 'gross', but I did have a job at a local dairy for about 6 years in the mid '70's to early 80's---and after going vegan, can't fathom how I stood the smell of rotting milk all those years!

Oh, and hat about on dates, how do you eat, isn't it awkward?
Uhh, been with the same lady since '88...she's of Scottish descent, and we ACTUALLY connected because we started talking about my vegetarianism---she never did like the taste of meat/cheese that was the mainstay of her family's diet! I would imagine if you're on a first date- both of you agree to sit down to a meal, if the other person is not at least vegetarian, it could get uncomfortable. Maybe just go for a coffee and a walk for your first date--and feel out the other person's outlook towards animals/veganism....and REALLY if they don't share your values at such a fundamental level, nor do they want to accommodate you--do you really want to spend more time with them?!

Any other pieces of advice?
Bless you for having the courage of your convictions! Stay focused on the positive impact you are having on your personal health, people around you.
You really don't need too many supplements (expensive pee!), but for sure, get some sublinual B-12 and vitamin D-3. You being female, if you test low for iron...maybe concentrate on iron rich foods or supplement a bit.
Be delighted to help you in whatever way I can...just send the questions!

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Sunil (Sunny) Raja

Expertise

As a life long vegetarian, VEGAN since 1998, I can tackle ANYTHING to do with nutrition, recipes, and balancing tastes. My specialty is baking breads and pastries.

Experience

Have been involved in the food industry since 1975 (as a production worker at a dairy, yuk?). Started baking in 1979. Have worked in every conceivable bakery operation, from a tiny mom & pop shop to large industrial bakeries, including grocery stores' 'In store' bakeries and fancy hotels. Have been operating my own business VEGAN DELIGHTS since 1998.

Organizations
Toronto Vegetarian Association

Education/Credentials
Grade 13 from Georges Vanier Secondary School, 1976, Toronto Centennial College, Automotive Technician, 1978, Toronto George Brown College, Baking Techniques advanced program 1982. Self Employment Assistance, YMCA--1998, Toronto

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