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


Kate said...

I love this times a million. Thank you!

Sarah Purdy said...

Thanks for sharing! I'm looking forward to reading more this week!

Sarah Purdy said...

Follow up questions:
- What did your parents say?
- Did you notice any outward physical signs once you changed your diet?
- What is the most awkward experience you've ever had as a vegan?
- Where is the most surprising place to find vegan food? (ie steak restaurant? ballparks?)
- What's your least favorite veggie?
- What's one vegan hot thing that you just can't stomach?
I could go on for days...more!!

Clare said...

Yay!!!Yay!!Yay!!!!!!Yay!!!! I am so glad you wrote this. I have grown to really love your blog...that I found searching for vegan blogs. It can sometimes feel like such a lonely planet once you are unceasingly aware of the suffering that surrounds you and noone else sems to see it! I wonder if you have ever heard of colleen patrick goudreau. She is a vegan author and lecturer. She even gives lecturea on "animals in the arts" . Her podcast is free on itunes. Try the rereading the classics one. Amazing. I am listening to her podcast on mark twains ( an animal rights activist!))essay on man's place in the animal world. I hope you will like her. Thank you again for deciding to help others out in finding a compassionate lifestyle.

Maria Rose said...

~My parents were cool. I remember a little concern about my nutritional needs. I am sure they just thought it was a phase.
~Yes I lost 50lbs in a few months.
~Most awkward vegan moment is when a family member prepared a vegetarian meal of cheese lasagna, buttered rolls, jello----nothing to eat.
~I have found vegan food everywhere. I can find something, or arrange for it, anywhere. Restaurants are really happy to work with you if you have a good attitude.
~I hate green beans. Like for real I want to gag when I smell them and I will full on puke them back up if I try to eat them.
~Vegan hot thing that I don't like...hmmm many vegans are nuts about kale and am impartial. Also, not crazy about rice milk.

Maria Rose said...

Clare. I have heard of CPG. I actually met her briefly a few years back. Her book, The Joy of Vegan Baking, changed my life!

Anonymous said...

I went vegan for a different reason, I got sick for two full days (both ends) on a fast food burger, and that was it, no more animal products for me.
Then I started researching ... I found you on veganblogs.com and found another blog I follow regularly happyherbivore.com I have two of her books.
thank you for this series and I look forward to reading them!

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