Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Going Vegan Part 1
I recently received a reader request. I love those! My reader/friend asked me to share a little bit about my journey into veganism. I am happy to oblige in a series of posts spread over the next week or so, leading up to an announcement in the vegan vein. If you are interested in learning more about the topics, just click on the words for links to more information.So, without further ado, here is my vegan journey:
I graduated from high school in 1999. The summer after graduation I went on a trip to Europe and while there I was fed veal. I can't say I even knew what veal was at that point, but I knew there was something about it that was supposed to be offensive. I think I took a bite or two of veal and then I was afraid to eat more. I was not having any sort of veg epiphany or anything, there was just a tiny little voice in the back of my head that was starting to find words.
Don't misunderstand, I was nowhere near veg at that point. I spent my graduation money on leather knee high Dr. Marten's (1999 people, 1999).
Later that summer Eric and I were visiting a health food store and we bought veggie burgers. I cooked them up and we ate them. It was a novelty. We ate them to feel healthy and then we took a long walk. I think it is probably the same feeling that people get when they drink shots of wheat grass and then jog; a vague sense of being healthy without much information behind it (a thousand apologies to ardent and educated wheat grass drinkers).
Then we moved to Portales, NM for school (don't ask me why).
Driving into the town of Portales one is immediately struck by the odor of cow poop,aka manure, lots of it. The community and surrounding areas support several dairy farms and, as I later learned, veal farms. I didn't give it much thought, beyond feeling annoyed that I had to smell that poo on the breeze, not thinking about the animals that had to live with it.
I started classes and began college life. I ate three meals a day in the cafeteria. One day I happened to be going through the lunch line and my plate was accidentally vegetarian. One of the cafeteria employees asked me if I was vegetarian. My reply was strange, even to me---I said, "I wish." He gave me a confused look, perhaps he just had gas, but I read between the lines and his eyes said the following, "Why do you wish it? Why don't you just do what you want to do?" I paused and walked to my seat with my dinner, that was my first meal as a vegetarian. Eric and I talked about it right then and together we decided to eliminate meat from our diet.
I knew that I should probably educate myself on the issue as I had no idea whether I was going to become some sort of anemic waif. When my mother found out she promptly sent me an industrial sized tub of peanuts for protein.
My search for information led me to the science building. I found myself in the computer lab, trying out this crazy new thing called the internet. I was shocked by what I found. The suffering of animals crashed over me like an ocean. I was drowning. I was devastated by the information I uncovered. The facts were easily confirmed in my own town. I saw suffering. Looking at those animals I had no way to fix it. I cried. I despaired on a scale I cannot express. How can people allow such things to happen all for the sake of something that they will eat and enjoy and POOP OUT 24 hours later? A life, a being capable of love and of suffering lived and died for actual crap. Let's just say I did not take it well, at all.
Eric suggested that we go vegan in order to further remove ourselves from the industry (free range and organic were immediately ruled out after research revealed the truth behind that business). I agreed and we went vegan. I threw my leather Dr. Marten's into the trash can. I threw out clothes and make-up and everything I could find that wasn't vegan. I pretty much just freaked out. Then I went on an angry rampage (see stages of Veganism below). I engaged anyone and everyone in self-righteous tirades...I am guessing you can only imagine how successful this tactic was. I handed out pamphlets and I cried hot and angry tears about the injustice of it all.
Then I realized what a waste of time most of that was. When has arguing with someone ever accomplished anything? I was tired and sad from fighting and from being disappointed by my closest friends and family who simply said, "You're right, but I am not going to change." I did a little soul searching, and by a little I mean a lot. Finally I decided that the best approach was to live my own life, not hiding or apologizing for my veganism. I waited and when people asked me about my choice I spared them the angry tirade and just answered their questions plainly. I will admit that it was certainly a fake it until you make it maneuver. I held my tongue as people said things like,"I couldn't give up fill in the blank." Then people started asking me for recipes or reporting that they had made changes in their diet and I realized that I had finally found the path that was right for me; one that was compassionate to both humans and animals. I think that is really where my journey into veganism began.
To be continued...
Stages of Veganism
1.Shock/Horror/Depression as you learn the facts
2. Angry Rampage when faced with the reality that everyone in the whole world isn't on the exact same path at the exact same moment as you.
3. Acceptance that others are on their own path
4. A genuine desire to help