Archive for July, 2015

Update: I’m (mostly) vegan now! How it will affect my blog and why it took me so damn long to take this path!

Before I start going on about why I’ve made this choice and explain the “mostly” part, I’ll just say

How it’s going to affect my blog

  1. I will be reviewing vegan stuff (obviously)
  2. I will not be deleting posts where I reviewed non-vegan things in the past since I don’t believe in pretending the past didn’t exist for various reasons
  3. I will be writing some posts about what it’s like transitioning.
  4. I will probably change the name of my blog again, but keep the format of writing reviews where I find things to complain about.

Now that that bit is done.. I want to add I’ve had this in my drafts for over two months. I’ve been very reluctant to tell others that I am vegan now because I don’t want them judging me and I don’t want to create uncomfortable situations with people who aren’t willing to listen and people who aren’t interested in learning. Just a warning that this will probably be one of my longest posts. I have only recently told some friends so I wouldn’t have to completely avoid social events or be stuck eating rabbit food. I also won’t be paying attention to any negative comments, you can make them, but I don’t give. You don’t have to read this after-all!

And now, let’s get this super long post started… I know I still won’t be able to say everything I need to say but at least it’s a start.

Why It Took Me So Damn Long To Take The Vegan Path

When I was a child, I remember I first wanted to become a vegetarian after seeing the movie Babe. I stopped eating pork after I saw that film, and probably would have gone further if I had more resolve, or if the people around me didn’t make it so difficult. I did like the taste of meat then. I don’t remember when I first learned meat came from animals, but I do remember being upset knowing that. I also remember trying to rationalize eating meat by convincing myself that all of the chickens I ate were boys (because they obviously needed the girls for eggs, right? WRONG), and all of the cows I ate were also boys (because they obviously needed the girls for milk, right? WRONG), and plenty of boys in school were mean to me, girls were nicer, so at least I wasn’t hurting girls (I know this was totally sexist and wrong, please do not judge who I was as a child that’s in the past). But alas, how very wrong I was. If I knew then what I knew now, I may have had enough resolve to have gone vegetarian around the age of 6 or 7.

Then when I was maybe 8 or 9 the first mad cow scare happened, and my mom wasn’t buying beef anymore. And I stopped eating beef, and have not eaten beef since, but I began eating pork again. There were other times I again tried to go vegetarian but it just didn’t work out, again, because of my own resolve lacking and because of those around me making it difficult. I was still never one to make fun of vegetarians, I always respected vegetarians for being able to do something I had wanted to do for so long. I didn’t quite get vegans and thought they were crazy when I first learned about people who thought taking milk and eggs hurt animals or was bad for them.

I first learned about the horrors of factory farms when I was in high school. I still didn’t eat beef, but had somehow convinced myself it was alright to kill animals, but that they should live happy lives before being killed. I begged my mom to buy free-range and organic animal products (I later learned these labels are LIES) but she wouldn’t because it was expensive. Sometime around then our family also visited a farm museum, it was either upstate or in Vermont. There I learned that on normal commercial farms as soon as hens’ egg production drops entire rows of them are sent off to slaughter, and that if the yolk is a pale yellow it means the chicken had a terrible diet. I was also told that in order to get milk, the calf had to be separated from its mother as soon as possible after birth, otherwise the cow won’t let anyone else milk her.  I didn’t like this, but it didn’t quite wake me up yet. There were a number of things stressing me out when I was in high school, my insane drive to work hard, all of the clubs I was in, and dealing with undiagnosed Crohn’s disease.

Later in college, I learned about factory farms again in some pamphlets from some group. They urged that even eating less meat would help cut down on factory farms (which is true), and I wanted to, but again, I didn’t want to start problems with my mom, I was also dealing with undiagnosed Chron’s disease at the time and there were a lot of things I couldn’t eat to begin with. I couldn’t drink the most widely available vegan milks (because carrageenan gave me flares), the same went for a lot of creamy dairy products, very fibrous food, and raw plant food. Plus I was weak and hardly had energy to do much. My dad told me to stop thinking about factory farms and all of the bad things happening it since I couldn’t make it stop, and because there wasn’t much I could eat to begin with. He also told me that the animal you eat lives on within you, and that the native americans thanked the animals they killed. I didn’t understand why they had to have such miserable lives, but I chose not to think about it. Stress would give me flares too. I know it’s no excuse, but I didn’t have the energy or capacity to try going vegetarian again, or to try and incorporate more vegan food into my diet.

When I finally got diagnosed with Chron’s and went on medication, things got better. Then I had some flares again, and my doctor put me on cimzia, a biologic medicine, and I’ve been doing so much better since. I can eat just about anything now (though I’m still afraid to try things with carrageenan in them, or eat too much of them), and I have energy to keep going all day at conventions and other things (I didn’t have this before). Maybe it’s been about three years that I’ve been doing better.

For the past year or so (last semester of my master’s degree), I’d gotten fed up of living at home and not having as much control over my life as I’d like. I’d gotten tired of asking my mom to cook more vegetarian food on occasion and not being able to cook things for myself because of how disorganized and cramped our kitchen is. Then, I think a couple of months ago (sometime this April) a friend posted this video to my wall on facebook, it was of a small child, perhaps 3 years old asking why an octopus had to die for food. Then for whatever reason, I decided to click one of the links in the description, and watched this video (warning, it’s long but worth the watch).  I don’t agree with everything the speaker said, but he made a lot of good points.

I realized that as children, just like we aren’t born racist, we aren’t born wanting to kill and eat animals either. These things exist because they’ve somehow become ingrained into society over generations and generations. We may have needed to go hunting in our nomadic days, and even sometimes after we settled down and learned farming techniques if there was a particularly hostile winter, other environmental conditions or warfare resulting in the destruction of crops. But in the society that we live in today, there’s no need for meat at all. All eating meat does is harm countless animals, the environment and even other humans. If land and water wasn’t being utilized to feed livestock, it could be used to feed people. It takes over 10lbs of grain to produce 1lb of beef. It also increases water consumption because you need water to grow the grain, and the cows need water to drink. Land in the rainforests is being cut down to raise cattle, and to grow food to feed them.

I really wanted to go vegan then. But I didn’t want to start problems with my mom… then I snapped around the end of April or the beginning of May and stopped eating meat. I had a small fight with my mom over it, and she’s forgotten once or twice, but I think it was worth it.  As good as any dish might look, thinking about what goes on in these factory farms (and for no reason at that) makes my stomach turn. My desire for most of these foods has gone because I realized I don’t need them, and that they aren’t worth the suffering they cause. I might miss the taste and texture of some foods, but at the end of the day I’ve realized that my appetite and whatever fleeting pleasure I might get out of the dish is not worth making an innocent sentient being suffer and die. I slowly phased out milk (in products, I’d stopped drinking it when I learned about the pus in it) and eggs over a month or so when I was adjusting to reading the packaging on labels. Now that I’ve finally moved out this month, my kitchen is vegan, and I’ve made the rule that I’m not allowing non-vegan food in my house. My fiance can eat what he wants when we go out or when he goes out, but in our apartment he’s vegan with me. That wasn’t forced on him, he agreed to it, doesn’t mind and us open to trying it with me. He’s told me he’d like to be able to reach the same mental state I have where he can give up non-animal products altogether. He does like animals too and wants to be nicer to them.

tl;dr – It took me so long to go vegan because in order to made a bit of an extreme life change you need to be at a place in life where you can think things over and are open minded enough to do so, you need to have full access to accurate information, and you need the resolve to do it. It’s experiencing an enlightenment.. it may be possible for everyone, but you have to work towards it until the conditions in your life are what they need to be and until you’re internally and physically ready in order for it to happen.

About the “mostly” part

The main reason is that I’m calling myself mostly vegan is because strangely enough giving up fish was more difficult for me than giving up cheese. I think because it’s easier to feel empathy for a cow than a fish. I still don’t really feel -that- bad for fish, but I know I don’t need them to die for me to live. I still may stray and eat fish a few times a year but it’s not my preference and I would not order fish when going out to eat. I would like to eliminate fish from my diet completely one day.

The second reason that I’m using the word “mostly” is because of super militant vegans on the internet (some of which will probably find this post and call me names), and ones I’ve known in real life saying that to be vegan you must not buy products that contain sugar that aren’t organic, because normal refined sugar is sifted trough bone char. So no, technically non-organic white cane sugar isn’t vegan. I respect those who abstain from it and companies seeking to use vegan sugar and sweeteners in their products. But I logically believe that they are not killing cows to make bone char for the sugar companies. If everyone stopped eating cows, their bones would not be so cheap, and that it would be cheaper for them to refine their sugar in a vegan friendly manner. And if one is to avoid this kind of sugar entirely, it makes going vegan more difficult unless you have tons of money, or don’t buy any prepackaged foods and make everything yourself from scratch. If going vegan seems too difficult, it may drive away many people who are curious or want to try. But if continuing to consume products with sugar in them makes it easier for people to not eat products that have obvious animal products in them like milk, meat or eggs, it’s still benefiting the animals. So yes, I still eat Oreos and spicy sweet chili Doritos despite their added sugar because it makes it easier for me to stay vegan (otherwise), at least until I find other snacks that are just as affordable and satisfying.

Other reasons are because I have mixed opinions on hunting. I have a greater issue with animals being farmed. I’d rather an animal (or myself, assuming aliens were eating humans) live it’s life free up until it’s death instead of living a comfortable peaceful life (like on a “nice” farm) and then experience a massive betrayal upon death. I might consider eating hunted meat as long as it was done so in an environmentally responsible way, but I would still rather not. I also don’t have an issue with eggs that come from rescued hens or chickens that are kept as pets that will still be cared for and loved even when they stop producing eggs. If some random animal wanted to eat my bloody tampons and pads I’d give it to them because I was just going to throw it away anyway. It’s not like an unfertilized egg is that different. Some vegans also abstain from honey, which I respect, but I’m ok with honey as long as the queen’s wings aren’t clipped, and as long as the bees are not killed off in the winter (I’ve read some beekeepers do this), but really only as a remedy for when there isn’t really anything else that will soothe a sore throat. Otherwise I’m in favor of embracing the 1/4 of Canadian blood that flows in my veins and using maple syrup everywhere I’d use honey otherwise 🙂

There’s also the bit about me still slowly phasing out things like shampoo, deodorant, and cleaning products that are tested on animals or contain animal products. Keeping the food thing in check is already not the easiest thing to do, and if I had to find new replacements right away I’d probably go insane and give up all together. As I find brands and products (as well as options I can make myself) that are affordable I’ll start to incorporating them into what I purchase.

The Good That’s Come Out of This

  • It does make a difference. Sure, my mom hasn’t gone vegan too, but she was willing to try more vegan dishes and was cooking slightly less meat when I was still living at home. My fiance’s sister tried baking vegan brownies because he told her I went vegan, and now his family loves those brownies and being able to lick the bowl without fear of getting salmonella from raw egg. Every vegan meal makes a difference to the animals. There are other little things I can’t quite recall, but people who care about you may make small changes for you. This is why I know I have to start telling more people I am vegan despite me still not wanting to.
  • I’ve tried a lot of new interesting food that I never would have thought to try if I didn’t do this! In some ways limiting yourself (though I hate to call choosing not to pay people to abuse and kill animals for you “limiting”), forces you to become more creative. Expect blog entries about some of my weird crazy delicious vegan foods.
  • I am one step closer on my life long mission to becoming friends with ALL the animals.
  • I don’t feel weird guilt whenever I get new information about how factory farming is screwing up the environment, harming animals or doing things like spraying pig feces on poor POC.
  • Winning arguments with hardheaded “logical” people. It takes a while, but if they’re a bit open minded and educated, and YOU are fully educated and able to answer their questions and refute their claims, you can get them to realize the only real reasons for eating meat are taste and that it’s what you’re used to, and that it does cause unnecessary harm to people, animals and our planet. Sure they might not stop eating meat, but at least now they won’t go around making false claims because they know they are false. (The teacher in me is always in favor of education anyway)
  • The enlightenment bit–  it’s hard to describe if you haven’t experienced it. I never knew how much power food had over me, or how even one person can make a difference without becoming a big activist. It might be the closest I get to nirvana in this lifetime, but at least now I feel like I’m headed in the right direction.

So yeah, that’s all I really have for now even though there’s a lot more I still want to say. I just can’t find a way to without this getting massively disorganized. If you know me personally and have read this in full, thanks, you really did not have to endure all of this rambling ❤

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