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life, vegan

my long (mostly reluctant) slide into veganism…

I’ve been a vegetarian for somewhere around 17 years now. People look at me funny when I tell them that, half-admiring and half, “wow you’re crazy” but too polite to actually say that. I was never a big meat eater, not that I recall anyhow, so it didn’t feel like a big switch to me. I was a pastaterian for many years where I lived mostly on dried goods like pasta, ramen noodles, et al, and barely noticed the lack of meat. Of course, I was seriously poor for most of that period, too, and couldn’t have afforded much in the way of “good” meat so it was probably safer, if not very healthy.

I’ve always said that people who ate meat didn’t bother me. That I could “man the grill” (and had) at parties and that even hunting was fine, so long as people used what they killed; i.e. no trophy hunting. Most of the time, I didn’t even think much about being an ovo-lacto vegetarian (someone who eats dairy/eggs) and really, I should have officially been considered a pescatarian (someone who eats fish) all that time, because I ate sushi and fish, too.

All of that time, I claimed I was a vegetarian for “health reasons,” because saying otherwise made me uncomfortable and I already had so many labels (fat, queer, female, single, agnostic) that to deal with one more was just too much to deal with. But I remember the reason I switched in the first place and it had nothing to do with my health. I was still living in MA at the time and worked near this family run farm that had a deli with the most awesome sandwiches around. Then Thanksgiving came around and I went there for lunch one day only to be shocked by a few smallish cages out front with live turkeys. You could pay to pick your turkey and have it slaughtered for Thanksgiving. I was horrified. I came face to face with the notion that yes, my food at one point was a living creature and guess what? It was killed so I could eat a sandwich or have a feast with my family. Horrified became sickened and I turned around and went to the grocery store and got some pasta for lunch.

You would think that with that kind of wake-up call, I’d’ve become a vegan right off the bat, but I didn’t. There was a disconnect in my brain that said, “no! don’t! too radical!” and I went to the middle ground of claiming to be a vegetarian instead. I remember my mother being really irritated at the time. “You couldn’t wait until after the new year to do this?” she demanded at thanksgiving dinner and I insisted I couldn’t.

All these (many, many) years later and I can’t even tell you what finally turned that switch back on in my brain. I have no idea why, a couple of weeks ago, I suddenly wondered, “hey wait, the cheese and eggs I’m eating… that’s from where now?” And so I watched some truly horrifying and revolting documentaries that are available right on netflix.com. These aren’t even “radical” or “undercover” videos. These are documentaries on health and the casual violence inflicted on animals in every industry. Yes, even the “cage free” and “grass fed” industries have such sorrow and suffering-filled practices that I dare you to watch them and not be disgusted.

Now, lest you think I’m going to become this militant vegan, don’t worry. Like me, I know that everyone has to come to this realization on their own. I’m reading this book right now, “Vegan Freak in a Non-Vegan World,” that has a really good point (it has many, imo) and I’m sure they’re not the first or only ones to state this, but just because something is tradition, or convenient, or “the way it’s always been done” is no reason to continue doing something that has such inherent brutality. And there’s no need for it, either, not with how easy it is to change to a vegan way of life.

I have no answers, just questions. And I have no diatribes, but I will occasionally post about my journey of being a vegan here. I’ll also share my successes and failures in the kitchen because I think the failures will probably be pretty spectacular and funny and like to mock myself. Not that I don’t get enough of that from my friends. ;o)

I’m left with the memory of a birthday party some 5 years ago. I met this woman at the party and we started talking about food and she said I wasn’t a real vegetarian because I ate fish and dairy/eggs. I was offended and insulted, but she was right. I just really wish that I’d taken it a step further at the time and not wasted five more years in the limbo of denial. But then, we all come to things in our own time and I guess I wasn’t ready back then to own my choices like I am today. I choose not to participate in the wholesale suffering of living beings. I choose to educate myself on these issues and will pass the information on to others in the hopes of inspiring more to do the same. Basically, I choose life and respect and hope others will, too.

/soapbox

(for now :o) )

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About Nancy M. Griffis

Author and screenwriter who loves scifi/action/adventure/urban fantasy genres. I have two published novels, Mind Games and Eternal Investigations, as well as a short story published for charity called "Home Fires Burning." All are available through amazon.com and barnesandnobles.com.

Discussion

6 thoughts on “my long (mostly reluctant) slide into veganism…

  1. I think this reaction is probably common among people who weren’t raised in a rural area. I grew up on a cattle ranch, so I’ve long been acquainted with the fact that the steaks I was eating was once a cow, and often had fed the critter while we fattened it up in the corral. I don’t mean to see blase, but you just become accustomed to the whole “cycle of life” thing and it doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is the often-inhumane environments that are often prevalent in stockyards, and any decent rancher will definitely treat his livestock much better than that. But that’s a completely different thing. Anyway, I applaud your decision, even if I don’t follow it. Sorry. I’m a carnivore – I physically become ill if I don’t eat red meat on a fairly consistent basis.

    Posted by katyasozaeva | December 24, 2012, 5:30 am
    • It’s not the “Cycle of life” I have a problem with. Beings live and die, I do understand that, it’s what happens in between that counts and those awful factory-farms need to stop. And hey, health reasons are nothing to sneeze at, I get that too. Thanks for the support. 🙂

      Posted by Nancy M. Griffis | December 25, 2012, 1:44 am
      • Yes, I agree with you there. Sadly, due to the interference of the government, the family farms are going extinct because they cannot compete. It really blows. I’m with the commenter below – we need a return to that, because the family farmers respected life more than you probably believe, and they know how to properly care for animals, treat them humanely. I think the movement toward organic food will help to a certain degree.

        Posted by katyasozaeva | December 25, 2012, 5:42 pm
  2. Like Katya, I grew up with farm animals that provided food for us. Even our dogs “earned their keep”. So I have a sincere question for you. If everyone in the world became vegan, what do you think would happen to all of those cows and pigs and chickens when no one is using them for a food source? If we stopped eating fish, the fish would just have more of each other to eat, but are you prepared for having cows grazing in your backyard, chickens crossing the street to get to the other side, and pigs picking through your garbage? Or do you suggest we neuter all of the farm animals and let them go extinct? They’re kind of big to be house pets, and there’s not much call for cows to learn dressage. The real food pyramid is primary producers (the plants) at the bottom, primary consumers (the herbivores) in the middle, and the secondary and tertiary consumers (carnivores and omnivores) at the top. Humans can move to the primary consumer level, but that would upset the balance at the top with an explosion of secondary and tertiary consumers in the non-human animal world. When wolves and other carnivores no longer have to compete with humans for meat, we’ll be shooting them in droves from helicopters just to survive. My grandfather treated his cows with loving care. They were more than just his livelihood. I would like to see a return to the family farm instead of having huge food factory farms before we all give up meat, milk, and eggs. And set all of those farm animals free to fend for themselves.

    Posted by elliesmom | December 24, 2012, 3:59 pm
    • okay, first of all, as I said IN my post, I don’t have any answers. I’ve just started educating myself and I’m sure smarter minds than mine are working on just those questions. Second, as you even said, today’s “farms” aren’t at all like the one that you grew up on or your grandfather owned back in the day. They are factories that keep animals “producing” 24/7/365 and kill them when they can’t do so anymore and the conditions in which the animals are kept are Nothing like what happened on your grandfather’s farm. The likelihood of those days returning are slim to none but if you want to work towards that, go for it. I have no difficulties with the circle of life. Beings live and they die, it’s the quality of life in between that counts. And to that end, there’s no reason people can’t become vegan. And by the way, if I had a backyard, I wouldn’t mind cows or goats grazing in it.

      Posted by Nancy M. Griffis | December 25, 2012, 1:42 am
      • Oh, sweetie, you haven’t been around many cows or goats, have you? cows aren’t too bad, outside the mess they make, but the goats would graze your grass down and then eat the roots, and then anything else you might have. They have to be continually rotated so they don’t destroy the ecosystem altogether. However, if you pay close attention and keep them moving, they will keep the grass nice and neat… X-D My mom used to always be angry at my dad for letting the horses roam around in the yard, but Dad does love his horses and has always spoiled them (i wonder how my stepmother feels about that? She really loves horses, too, though, so she’s probably fine with it). Which is fine. I spoil my critters, too, even if they are “just” cats…

        Posted by katyasozaeva | December 25, 2012, 5:45 pm

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