Sausage pizza, leather dress shoes, dish soap, and wool socks. These are just a few common items that won’t be present in Andy McIntyre’s home. McIntyre, fifth year philosophy student at Minnesota State University, Mankato, practices veganism, a lifestyle that abstains from using any animal products. This method sounds impossible in today’s culture, but McIntyre has found a lot of freedom in his way of life.
McIntyre’s reason behind veganism is simple: “I don’t think killing animals and eating them is that cool.” His choice of veganism is a way he is taking stand against the death of animals, not only the way in which they die. “I think overpopulation is an idea we made up because we believe we own the land. If we feel that deer or moose are taking up too much of our land, that isn’t a problem with them. Maybe we just need to chill out over how much land we think we deserve.”
MAKING THE CHANGE
McIntyre was 22 when he abandoned the normal American diet. He made a complete change rather than try to ease into the new lifestyle. Veganism isn’t only about food, either. McIntyre must ensure sure that other products he buys are manmade. “A lot of glue is animal based, and horsehair is often used in shoes or clothing as well,” he said. At first, McIntyre had to go through his closet and get rid of all the belongings he owned that included animal products. He sold a few, but donated most of them to a local shelter. “The idea of [veganism] had been a moral concept I’d been wrestling with for quite a while. I didn’t realize how easy it would be to actually make the switch,” he said.
Before changing his diet completely, McIntyre had to study a good deal to learn about the nutrients his body needed, to prevent himself from collapsing with a sudden removal of animal products. Now that he’s living a completely vegan lifestyle, he feels nothing missing or unsatisfying about the way he eats and functions. “No flavor is worth the cost behind it,” he said.
McIntyre eats raw foods throughout the first part of the day, and then adds cooked food such as rice during the afternoon and evening. “I eat a lot of rice,” he said. The time he spends preparing food is still minimal, because cooking in bulk amounts saves time and energy. He also enjoys not worrying about cooking food to certain temperatures to prevent contracting diseases like salmonella. A vegan diet removes that risk. Currently, he only needs to take one supplement (B12).
McIntyre doesn’t feel the need to eat a lot of substitutes. “I like tofu, but I don’t consider it a substitute because it’s been around for 4,000 years,” he said. His favorite ‘vegan’ foods are bananas and mangoes, and he consumes around eight per day during his morning meal.
McIntyre encourages those considering a vegan lifestyle to research recipes online and do some personal study. He recommends the book How Not to Die by Michael Greger, M.D., as a good nutritional overview. “[Veganism] is not as complicated as people make it out to be,” he said.