It's been a month since we started trying to eat under new rules, consuming animal products only if we can verify the animals' living and slaughter conditions, trying to go increasingly vegetarian with a goal towards eventual vegan, and focusing on organic products. Since I hate vegetables, including beans, this has been a hard path for me to take. I accept that this will be a gradual learning process, and one month in, I feel that substantial progress has been made.
I found it was not too tough to get information online or from product packaging that helped me determine whether the company producing the food was one I would want to support. Unfortunately, you can't always have everything. For example, it's a lot easier to find organic butter than to find organic butter with cows living in humane conditions. While most producers tout "organic," not all address their animal husbandry habits.
At first the shopping was quite a process - it took me about three to four hours to plan a week's worth of menus and to do the shopping - in part because I was reading labels and taking a long time to find things in the store. Now I have it down to about two hours, and I expect efficiency to continue to improve as we develop regular recipes we can rely on instead of trying so many new ones each week.
I cheated once: I bought a steak sandwich after a hard morning at work. I knew it was cheating - but I told myself beef was the best way to cheat, as opposed to eating chicken, which I simply will never do again unless it's free range and organic. I didn't beat myself up about it, it was only one lapse in a month and it's hard to eat things you don't really like all the time. I am gradually learning to tolerate, and even sort of like, a few things. I have always hated soup, for example, and now I make several a week and have learned to like several.
I'm happy that we are down to zero waste in terms of food. Organic can equal expensive and so I am very careful to use every single thing we buy completely, not leave anything to languish in the fridge. It's about $100 a week for two people, though that includes some household items like laundry soap, etc.) . We are using up things from the freezer, and therefore once in awhile we still have some meat, but we've gone as much as 10 days without any, which for me is a personal record. I have found that meat is less appealing now so when we do have it, I don't enjoy it like I used to. Now if I could just learn to love whole grains (which I despise), vegetables (yuk), beans (eeww), or tofu (eh). Yes, there is still a ways to go.
Packing lunch every day is a good thing, and I have much more control over my diet and I hardly ever snack as there is nothing around within easy reach that I haven't planned into a future meal or, if I'm out, that meets my new criteria. Overall, this is probably good, and I think our diet is healthier. It's more of a pain, for sure, but not as bad as I thought.
We have mastered an egg substitute out of flax seed. Personally I don't think biscuits are as good made with soy milk and flax - and they smell a bit funny - but they can be done. Vegan pancakes even turned out, albeit they are not something I enjoyed, particularly.
The environmentally friendly cleaners are among my least favorite in "the new regime." The dishwasher soap seems sandy and leaves a residue. The laundry detergent is fine, and the hand soap is actually better, though perhaps not enough so to justify the cost difference. (I just remind myself I'm doing this for the environment and the animals, not for my budget).
The web resources for vegetarian and vegan recipes are better than I thought, though it's still hard for me to choose one when they all contain lists of ingredients that don't appeal to me. Although it's hard, I do believe in the mission. I don't think it's ethical to support animal framing practices I think are morally and ethically wrong, and if I have to sacrifice everything I like to eat in order to behave in a responsible manner towards the animals, I will...but I won't kid myself into thinking I can revolutionize my habits in 30 days. I can say I have made progress, and that vegan no longer seems IMPOSSIBLE, just very difficult. I won't rush it - I still need my organic cheese as a crutch.