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Challenge #1: Different World

The Challenge: Spend at least 15 minutes immersing yourself in a field you know nothing about.

My original thought on this was perhaps I’d learn more about medical transcription. Almost everyone in my family does it, maybe I should find out what it is. So as my sister was working on transcribing a report I began asking her questions. Then I got distracted by her adorable son. It wasn’t that interesting to me anyway. No offense to medical transciptioners (is that a word?).

Later on I began randomly to think about a young girl I once knew – let’s call her Zoe – who attended the after school program at my preschool. Zoe was a vegan. That word always cracks me up: Vegan. It sounds like some sort of alien race from Star Trek. Anyway, Zoe was always trying to educate the other kids on veganism, usually unsuccessfully. One thing they always talked about was Jell-o being made from pig hooves. Wow, really? (Yes, really… sort of.) So though it isn’t a field per se, I thought I’d find out more about the mysterious world of the vegans. And where would I look? Wikipedia. Where else?

The first sentence I read reads “Veganism is the practice of eliminating the use by human beings of non-human animal products.” This led me to ponder whether use by humans of human products was okay or not..? I mean, if two vegans and a cow were stranded in a frozen wasteland and one of the vegans and the cow died, would the other vegan opt to eat the human rather than the animal for the sake of survival? I’m not trying to make fun, I’m honestly trying to understand. Wikipedia wasn’t very clear on it, but the vegans I’ve known seem ready to lay down their life for the rights of animals. Maybe that’s a personal choice thing and not something the practice necessarily dictates.

"Who needs any money in the land of milk and honey?" - Disney's Summer Magic

Not eating certain foods with certain animal “products” has its advantages, I must say. Hot dogs? Ew. Jell-o? Even before learning about the hooves (collagen found in hooves, to be precise) I haven’t been a fan of the slimy stuff since I was a kid. (Jell-o pudding however… that’s another story.) But most things I enjoy contain some sort of animal “product.” In fact as I went through what I had eaten so far today, I realized that most of it contained some sort of animal “product” from Honey Nut Cheerios to chicken enchiladas to Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, if it weren’t for animals I’d have starved! I DID have a Clementine, a Powerade, and water. All of that was animal free, thank you very much.

There are health benefits, too. Most “experts” agree that a vegan diet has “been found to offer protection against obesity, heart and renal diseases, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis.” Those are some awesome benefits, indeed! Cancer kind of runs in my family, so protection against it appeals to me.I thought perhaps that a vegan diet would be too low on protein, but I was proved wrong on that.

Did learning more about the vegans convert me? No. What it really comes down to for me is that I happen to really enjoy me some animal products. It’s not that I’m Elmer Fudd and “Kill the wabbits!!” or anything. But I must admit that I’m also not exactly Mufasa and “the circle of life” either. I don’t eat meat every day, but almost every day. Maybe that’s too much. I try to match my diet to what is made mention in the Bible and the Doctrine and Covenants (LDS), with the occasional Snickers bar or other such scrumptiousness. I’m sure God understands. He’s pretty awesome like that 🙂

What this challenge did for me though was to help me understand the dietary and other regulations the vegans hold dear and to come to a better understanding – albeit not a complete understanding – as to why. I didn’t even go into their philosophy of not using anything made with animal products – not just food. There’s so much involved and 15 minutes wasn’t quite long enough. But I do want to try some vegan recipes because I’m sure they’re probably a ton better than a frozen pizza. I’ve always liked little Zoe and my other vegan friends, but now I feel like I’ve gained more understanding of and respect for their practice.

Challenge #1: completed! I don’t exactly feel more childlike at the moment, but gosh darn it I feel smarter! 15 minutes well spent 🙂

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