So it’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog. Since then, I have ended my vegan trial month at the end of January. It was such an amazing experience. I lost weight, felt healthier, and learned about amazing, compassionate ways to cook.
Then I went on a dairy binge. It was a little pathetic, and it actually made me get sick. I’m not going to lie. At first, this worried me. I think I associated my eating habits with something that made me who I was. I have always been a loud & proud lover of all things cheese. To me, as silly as it seems while I’m writing this now, it was a part of my identity. I had always been so decidedly anti-vegetarian growing up, it seemed preposterous that I might one day BECOME one.
Yet, when I found myself at dinner that night, out with my sister to celebrate a successful month, looking at my baked cheese tortellini with chicken in a cream sauce, I found myself really grossed out by the idea of eating animal flesh again. I got through maybe two bites before I picked around it and ate the cheesy parts instead.
Somewhere in my mind, I had finally come to terms with the idea that I do believe, in my innermost self, that eating meat is wrong. It’s funny: when I was about six or seven, I tried to become a vegetarian for those same reasons (I loved animals; I didn’t want to eat them), and I lasted about a day. Willpower was always something that I struggled with, so I just ignored it, like with so many things in my life.
The month of veganism made me see that I DID have willpower, and if I wanted to do something, I could do it.
I basically became a pescatarian right after that, not willing to fully submit myself to the idea of never eating animal products again. It seems crazy, I know, to think that food could have that much of a grip over me. But it did, and I let it. Like I said, there was a part of me that became so sure that it was part of my identity, that I wouldn’t be my sister’s “sister who thought cheesecake was the best food in the world” or my friends’ “friend who would go out and try any new food possible.”
And yes, the eating was (and is) part of my identity. But who is to say you can’t–or shouldn’t–change that identity as you go?
After eating vegan for a month, I realized that my morals were in true alignment with becoming a vegan. But I didn’t become a vegan right away because I was scared of the change to that identity. I am not proud to say that, but I was. And I think that is typical of a lot of people, and it’s probably why so many vegans hear, “Oh, I could never give up cheese, but that’s really great.” Food in our culture has become a huge source of identity, and it’s always scary to decide to change your identity because it changes the way people see you. It changes the way you see yourself.
Before I met my wonderful friend Kima, who really introduced me to the concept of being fully vegan, I was one of those people who scoffed at veganism and vegetarianism. Then one day, she said something that made me think. She said that those who had that attitude had it because vegans were confronting the personal choices of meat-eaters, and that made them nervous. It was true. I was nervous because my own personal choices were being pulled out into the open where I had to look at them and question myself.
At this point (by about the beginning of February), I now knew it was wrong to keep doing what I was doing, but I kept doing it. I don’t think I was ready to make the change. Then, as with any change, there was a catalyst.
Our dog got into trouble with our town after an incident involving a town employee (talk about your bias right there), and my family suddenly had to face an upcoming hearing where the dog officer (a man who, by any and all accounts of the people in my town, hates dogs), and the animal control committee were to decide whether or not my dog would be deemed vicious. If deemed so, they would have the power to either permanently restrain him (affecting the quality of his life to the point where he would not be able to run and play in our own, fenced in yard), banish him from the town, or “destroy” him.
The second I read the word “destroy” listed in the town by-laws as an acceptable option for an offense that would get a human at least fined and at most a couple of years in prison changed my entire life. The fact that humans believed they had the power to take the life of another, sentient being–and, worse, to consider it “destruction,” the connotation of which is more along the lines of getting rid of an unwanted object, not a life–was appalling.
The dots connected.
This is what humans do every day. They imprison animals, restricting their quality of life. They kill them. They steal from them–their eggs, their milk, their babies.
Why do we think we have the right to do that?
Our dog, luckily, was not “destroyed.” Instead, he was permanently restrained, and every day we have to live with seeing him confined, unable to exercise properly (we, of course, take him for walks and run him around the yard, but it’s not the same as having him chase a ball and run as fast as HE can without being limited by his human companions). It’s heartbreaking, miserable, and it’s taking its toll on him.
I can’t discriminate between species. If I wouldn’t stand to see it for our family’s dog, I will not stand to see it for anyone else. Yes, I said anyone, not anything. They are beings, and deserve life.
I have been fully vegan–not just dietarily speaking, because it’s a LIFESTYLE, not a diet–for about two months now. Yes, I am reaping the benefits of a much healthier lifestyle, but, more importantly, I am doing it for them.
Trial and success, indeed.
Stay tuned for more updates on the vegan lifestyle, vegan foods, and life in general!