Well, it has been a while since I have posted something. And I always want to post something. I just hate taking the time. I literally spend most of my time playing, laughing, singing and dancing with one of my kids (okay, so my big kid doesn’t do a lot of that, but he makes me laugh, often.) And I really rather do that than type, check grammar, find the right image, format, yada yada…
I have gone through some big changes and so I just thought it was time to share.
I’ve completely stopped eating meat and dairy. I cannot label myself a vegan because I eat eggs from a local free range farm and I eat some fish. I’d really like to talk about why I’ve made this change. But first…
I’d like for everyone to take note that I was an avid meat eater, a lover of dairy, a cook that did not really know how to proceed without butter, a shopper that stocked up on as much sour cream as possible - it was my secret ingredient in everything and often garnered rave reviews from family and friends whenever they ate anything I made.
But wait, there’s more…
I made fun of people who ate hummus.
Fruits and vegetables would rot from sheer neglect in my refrigerator.
I once said (and I quote) “So I made cream cheese icing because, really, what’s the point of making any other kind?”
I’m sure you understand my point.
So the thing about this change is that it was not a choice for me. It really just hit me one day, almost six weeks ago. I had always known the horrors of factory farming. And I have always been an animal lover. I used to stop on the side of the road just to watch the cows graze in the pasture when I lived in Upstate New York for three years. You think I would have gotten used to it, but I never did. I gave up things live veal and lamb but I never questioned the neat little cellophane packages of beef, pork and chicken that I threw in my cart every week at the grocery store.
And one day, it just happened. I caught a diagram that crossed my computer screen as I was reading some anti-consumerism material. It really wasn’t focused on meat or factory farms so the diagram was out of place. As a rule, I avoid imagery from organizations that fight for the rights of animals because I'm fragile when it comes to the suffering of innocent creatures and the pain lingers with me for days sometimes as I try to purge the images from my mind. So I saw this image for a few seconds, maybe. Our dog had just been injured, had surgery and was on the mend at the time. I remember feeling so bad, watching her suffer through it.
And there I was…
Looking at the dog… remembering the diagram… the dog… the slaughterhouse… the confinement… the lack of any love…
And I was done.
I was crushed under the weight of the pain, suffering and fear these animals endured, just to be slaughtered in the end.
It’s not that I chose not to eat meat. Suddenly, it was impossible for me to eat meat. I was ill prepared for the change, with frozen chicken, beef and pork in my freezer waiting to be defrosted and cooked. I ate graham crackers for a week.
Dairy was the next to go, in stages. I gave up milk and most milk products about three weeks ago. And just two weeks ago, I gave up cheese. That was hard. However, I am harder pressed to justify the degree of suffering we inflict on cows and their calves in order to produce the quantity of milk that we consume.
I gave up eggs for a while, until I found a farm I was comfortable with and, although they’re a little pricier, it is worth it to me to have access to farm fresh eggs and know the chickens are just walking around all day, and someone is literally picking them from a nest. No beak cutting, wing clipping, "shelves," fake UV lights, hormones, or antibiotics - they can just be chickens.
I have to say that I have never felt so good physically without “dieting” and I feel as if a weight has been lifted off of me that will allow me to continue on the path I have chosen. I’m a city girl at heart, an absolute prissy wimp when I’m near dirt, bugs, and other nasty things that come with the outdoors. I realized, not too long ago that, in order to find true peace with life, I needed to connect with the Earth, and learn how to really live. (As opposed to sitting in front of a computer, earning money, so I could pay others for the things I needed to live – but more on that later!)
In any case, a few weeks into my cruelty-free lifestyle, I realized that this was the first logical step of connecting with the Earth. I could never have made a true connection while blindly contributing to the pain and suffering of innocent creatures. And I have discovered that there is a name for my journey - AHIMSA - which means "to do no harm." And I found this in Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis.
A - Abstinence from animal products
H - Harmlessness with reverence for life
I - Integrity of thought, word, and deed
M - Mastery over oneself
S - Service to humanity, nature, and compassion
A - Advancement of understanding and truth
I hope to post my feelings, challenges and adventures as I tread this new path. I think the look into someone like me turning a whole new leaf – literally – will be very valuable to some.
In the meantime, I am going to ask my readers (however many of them I have) to please consider just one thing for now. Please take the step of knowing where your food comes from. I am not going to be so bold as to ask anyone to change what they eat, a mere six weeks into this. I am also not going to be so foolish as to think my personal plea will change what is on your plate tonight. It is important though, for your mind, spirit and body, as well as this earth, for you to understand the conditions of the places that supply the food that we feed ourselves as well as our loved ones.
I truly believe if everyone witnessed just a single hour of activity at a factory farm and slaughterhouse, they would never eat mass produced meat again.
*Please consider that some resources are not suitable for everyone. Understand your own sensitivity level. For example, my heart cannot handle viewing EARTHLINGS and I even had to cover my eyes and fast forward a few parts of FRESH.
This Canadian campaign, launched with the support of The Toronto Vegetarian Association, is a great place to start. The campaign is cute and their imagery is usually very kind to the viewer while still getting to the point.
This is the facebook page for a book I ordered from Amazon as soon as I knew that I could no longer eat meat. This book looks at our blind commitment to eating meat from a sociological perspective. It is non-judgmental and very informative. If you check out the Amazon page as well, the reviews are very helpful.
(and The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone)
I picked this up at the grocery store when I was feeling lost and alone in my quest to eat a cruelty free diet. I found comfort that I wasn’t the “only one” thinking about this and some recipes to help me along. There is also a lot about macrobiotics, which I cannot even wrap my head around just yet.
This is a powerful documentary that I have yet to watch. I cannot even make it through the trailer. However, I know this has helped many a vegan to get their significant other or a family member to understand their decision so I could not exclude it.
This film examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods.
This is the documentary that started my thought process almost two years ago. It is powerful and eye opening. I will never take for granted what is in food that I purchase.
I just watched this a few weeks ago and, although it is not focused on a vegan lifestyle, you could not ask for a more informative film about the food chain, the why’s and how’s of food production and how it all went wrong. This film also gave me hope. As a minority often looked at as a wacko when I talk about our food system, I feel this film can educate so many more people to make healthier choices.
This is just to prove that no one should take themselves too seriously. And who doesn’t need a little Ryan Gosling to brighten their day?