The Heart and the Head

Just finished reading through a 2013 report in the scientific journal Appetite that looked at how a person’s beliefs about their health and diet choices line up with actual nutrition outcomes. Or, as the article’s title put it, “an exploration of congruence with health-related beliefs and assessed health indices.”

Come back! The actual discussion here doesn’t need to feel half as dry as that title might suggest. Really, as far as peer-reviewed research articles go, this one was a breeze—only six pages, including graphs and references. And while there are many assorted studies on the nutritional benefits (and concerns) of vegan/vegetarian diets, this paper explores less traveled territory. Continue reading


Why’d it have to be baby cows?

I really enjoy a good veal parmesan. Tender meat lightly fried, then topped with melted cheese and covered in tomato sauce. I remember eating veal before I knew what veal was, and how it was made. Truly some delicious stuff.


Oof. Even before taking steps to eliminate meat from my diet, I had to drop veal cold after seeing images like this. Baby cows penned up in cages too small to turn around in, in dark, windowless sheds. Chained up in young to keep movement (and muscle development) to a minimum prior to an early death in the service of delivering me that unbelievably scrumptious meal at my favorite Italian restaurant. Continue reading


A little over five months ago, I decided to take steps toward reducing my meat intake in favor of adding more vegetarian and vegan dishes to my diet. The primary motivators behind this decision were three-fold. First, like many of us, I’ve read stories on the troubling aspects of factory farming (overcrowded pens, animal cruelty, generally poor living conditions for livestock, etc.). Disturbing videos online showing recently born male chicks stomped underfoot or gathered into a airtight containers for mass smothering (male chicks cannot lay eggs and are not considered suitable for meat production, and are thus discarded as an unintended consequence of the greater chicken farming system). I say I read these stories and viewed some videos like this, but, shaken as I was, I continued to eat meat, begrudgingly at first, until the cognitive dissonance abated.

Why? Because meat is delicious. It’s hard to pass up when the alternative is a hazy-at-best idea of eating steamed vegetables day in, day out. So this status quo may’ve continued if not for my other two, more selfish and personal reasons for taking up a more vegan diet—my own health, and a desire to become a more versatile cook for me and my family. Continue reading