Every time I cuddle with my beloved pit bull Buster or hang out with my lemon yellow bird Sparky, I am reminded of why I am vegan. They are my companions. They are a special and beautiful part of my life. They make me happy and I feel that life is so much more peaceful with them around. And it's also hard to deny that they too seek happiness and comfort in their lives. I don't see any difference between them and cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, lamb, ie. animals that are raised for food. I believe they deserve to be protected and deserve to live a good life just like my Buster and my Sparky. It's that simple for me. I don't see living creatures as food anymore. I wish I would have had this sense of clarity a long time ago but unfortunately I didn't want to see them as having any connection with the food that I ate everyday.
About 15 years ago when I was in high school, I went vegetarian for about 6 months after my English teacher showed us the "Diet for a New America" video in class. I remember just feeling sick to my stomach that all the suffering and sickness in factory farming was directly related to what I ate everyday. It really opened my eyes as to how it affected our health, our animals and the Earth. I came home from school and announced to my parents that I was going vegetarian. I decided to cut out meat from my diet and see if I could do it. It didn't last very long. I was so uninformed about the right foods to eat so I relied on plain salads, lots of carb heavy foods and junk food like chips, french fries and sweets. I didn't know about whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds or soy foods, let alone appetizing ways to prepare them. This "inconvenience" is what made me go back to eating meat-centric meals and fast food. This continued for the rest of my teen years to early adult life. I don't know why it took 15 years for me to start thinking about going veg again. Aside from thinking vegetarianism was difficult, I think I was ignoring what I really knew about where my food came from, just living with my head turned the other way, refusing to see what was there. Like many others, I pushed that knowledge out of my head while I enjoyed my steaks, fried chicken and Thanksgiving turkeys. I figured if I don't think about it, it won't hurt me (or the animals?). Then one day many many many years later, I woke up.
I decided to go vegan on January 1, 2007 after seeing a few videos of factory farming on the internet. I remembered again what it felt like when I sat in my high school classroom watching the same thing. I was sad that I never stuck with my transition to vegetarianism at that time and I thought if I'm going to do it, I should do it now. I knew I was ready for it and was ready to learn more about it. I didn't even bother starting as a vegetarian and working my way to vegan. I figured if I'm going to omit animal meat from my diet, I should eliminate their by-products too. At first it was intimidating. I thought: "So meat's out. Eggs and dairy too...What's left?" I didn't know where to begin. A book called 'The Food Revolution' gave me information about what was in the animal foods I was eating. Also looking at various information websites like Choose Veg, Vegan Outreach and vegan recipe sites like Vegweb and The Post Punk Kitchen, I was able to get so much information that would help me transition very quickly. Luckily I love to cook and always have since I was young, so buying a variety of vegan/vegetarian cookbooks helped me explore different recipe ideas. It got me very excited to be vegan. It's been over a year and it's only gotten easier and easier for me to be vegan. I no longer worry about what I'm going to eat everyday and whether I'm getting the right amount of nutrients. I still get very excited about food and I'm able to enjoy what I eat and share with others that animal free food can be delicious too!
Not only are there yummy foods that I can enjoy now, I've also had other benefits from being vegan. The first year I lost about 10 pounds and my husband who only ate vegan 70% of the time lost 30! Cutting out animal protein and dairy reduced the amount of bad fat we ate so naturally we lost weight. Also introducing more whole grains and a variety of vegetables helped very much. I can't say I lost any more weight since then as vegan cupcakes have taken over my life, but I still feel very healthy. My cholesterol levels are excellent, my digestion is impeccable and I still weigh less than I did when I ate meat a year and a half ago. Food is celebration to me and is abundance. I don't feel like I'm restricting myself. When people ask me if I miss eating chicken or steak or (enter other animal food here), I just tell them that as I no longer view chickens, cows, pigs etc. as food, I'm not missing anything. I have so many other choices that fulfill me and make me feel satisfied about my food choices. I love knowing that everything I eat and enjoy did not come from any suffering and pain. I love knowing that everything I eat is delicious and pleasing to me as well.
I didn't start this blog to try and "convert" anyone to veganism, I just want to share my passion for the kind of food that I love to eat. If anyone finds inspiration here to add a little more veggie friendly foods to their life, that's wonderful. I hope you enjoy it!
My inspirational animals:
Buster Brown, the huckleberry hound.
Sparky, the Lemon "Chicken".