Sometimes in your life, you have these grand epiphanies, and you start down a whole new path. That happened to me back in April.
Long story short(er), I became a vegan back in April. There were several factors that influenced me. Firstly, I’d been flirting with the notion of vegetarianism for years, ever since college. Mostly, I was just too lazy, and I bought in to all of the myths–you know, how you couldn’t eat anything and how expensive everything was. (I didn’t even know the difference between vegetarian and vegan until back in April (blush).) In other words, I didn’t educate myself. Secondly, raw meat is icky–I hate icky. I hate the thought of touching meat and then trying not to touch anything else, then the grease as it’s cooking, just…..ick. Thirdly, I’ve always sort of felt bad about eating animals. I mean, it’s got to be bad karma, right? Lastly, I met a woman a while back who now has a blog and who is, in fact, a vegan. She is also a yoga instructor, blonde, thin, and disgustingly pretty–but I like her, anyway. Her name is Colleen–check her out at www.wakingupvegan.com.
I finally said, hey, I can do this! So I did. Just like that. No fanfare, just a simple decision, and the thing was done. I didn’t gradually go off of meat or dairy, I just went cold turkey (so to speak.) I won’t say it has been easy–there are certainly challenges. All in all, though, it’s not nearly as big a deal as some would make it out to be, especially when you weigh the benefits–mental, physical, emotional, and environmental, just to name a few.
By far the biggest challenge is the fact that six other people live in this house besides me. Two of them are elderly people who grew up eating (so it would seem) lumps of coal because that’s all they could afford. On the plus side, my husband converted to veganism about three weeks after I did. He kept trying the food I was making, and he was impressed. Also, I convinced him that it might resolve some health issues he was having, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and some weight problems. (FWIW, all of those problems are now resolved.) My daughter is a captive audience, and I would say she is vegetarian. My sister is held too firmly under the influence of The Grandparents. My son is another matter altogether. He is a pre-teen, so anything I do is met with great skepticism. I will say, though, that he has done pretty well trying different things, and he has even admitted to liking some of them. I’m not sure what he thinks will happen if he becomes vegan–maybe he’ll turn into a zombie or something.
I also live in an area that is not conducive to a vegan lifestyle. The grocery stores are sadly lacking, and I won’t even talk about the restaurants. It would be a lot easier to be a vegetarian, but being vegan takes it to a whole new level.
One of the best things is that no matter what I’m cooking–even if it is a pot of beans–The Grandfather makes a special trip into the kitchen for the sole purpose of standing there for a moment and looking over my shoulder, then saying in all seriousness, “What is that?” The deepest, darkest secret of my heart is to one day turn and empty the contents of the pot over his head.
Also, my friends and more distant family members all ask the exact same question, namely, “What do you eat?” It just literally boggles their minds. For the most part, because we are all consumer sheep, they don’t even see a reason for being vegan in the first place. I love lists (a fact you may have surmised at this point) so I’m going to make another one about why I think everyone should be vegan.
- Being vegan is the healthy thing to do. Do you know who commissioned the “got milk?” campaign? The California Milk Processor Board. Duh. All of the major meat and dairy industries have multi-million dollar ad campaigns, and why? Because they are businesses, and they are out to make money. Businesses use advertising to convince us that we need a product, and meat, dairy and eggs are no different. All of the nutrients in these items can be found in a plant-based diet. I’m not going to go into the science of it now, but do the research. I did mine, and trust me, I wouldn’t lie.
- Contrary to popular belief, I eat all kinds of yummy, nutritious food. My husband will tell anyone who asks that he eats more now than he did before. I make a black bean burger that anyone would have a hard time turning away, and don’t even get me started on my vegan fajitas. Furthermore, I make some traditional recipes with vegan substitutions that have even gone through The Grandparents beady-eyed scrutiny, including a peach cobbler that I dare anyone to match.
- The truth hurts, and the truth of our society is that animals destined for the dinner table lead horrific, terrifying, unimaginable lives. It is so easy to turn a blind eye and just not think about it, but part of living on this earth is taking responsibility for our decisions. By eating these animals, we are contributing to the lives they lead. Some people want to spout the Bible at me on that one, saying how man has dominion over all the animals or whatever, but having dominion over something does NOT give us the right to treat another living creature with absolute disregard. Period. I saw a banner that said, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” The truth is, most of us are too watered down to make a stand against things we know aren’t right. We could never actually kill a cow, but we just love the smell of a barbeque. (I stole that one from King, of course.)
- Another myth: that begin vegan is more expensive than a regular diet. I don’t see it. It’s true that some products cost more, especially organic stuff, but think it through. What are the biggest ticket items on your shopping list? Meat and dairy. Also, soy based substitutions, like vegan cream cheese, sour cream, and even non-dairy milks, last twice, sometimes three times as long as their traditional counterparts. That means instead of lasting a few weeks, they can last for a couple of months. That means you aren’t throwing out spoiled milk or a tub of sour cream that got pushed back in the fridge. Not only that, what’s cheaper than beans or rice? Those are two staple foods for me, and they are very cost-effective. I bought two big bags of textured vegetable proteins (TVP) back at the end of April, and I still have some left. I think I paid $13 for both bags, combined. I use them in my fajitas, in stew, and in casserole. Think how much the chicken would have cost if those meals had been made the “old” way.
- I feel better, and I think I look better. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not any more attractive or anything, but my skin is better, my hair is better, and my general sense of well-being is better. In short, I feel good about the decisions I make every day.
- Consider the following facts: humans are the only species that voluntarily and habitually drink the milk from another species, and the only ones to persist with the habit into and beyond adulthood. Also, we are not carnivores, no matter how many jokes I make. Humans are omnivores. We don’t have the teeth or digestive systems for a meat-based diet. Do the research, people!
- Raising meat for human consumption is a huge strain on our environment. Again, I’m already blowing the word-count out of the water here, so I’m going to leave the research up to you, but as they say, facts is facts.
- This is going to sound strange, but it makes me so happy to not have to cook (or touch!) raw meat anymore! My cooking is so clean and non-toxic now. It just makes me happy. It makes my hands happy. All in all, I think that sums it up best–being a vegan makes it easy to be happy. It just seems to fit, and what can be bad about that?