Monday, September 1, 2008

Why am I vegan?

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".


Glue and Glitter said...

This was a great read!

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

Thanks so much for the post. I read ever word and found it enlightening. I am just wondering what you do when you go out for dinner or over at the house of friends. Is that a bit tricky? I am also wondering what would happen if people didn't actually raise chickens to eat them - I am not sure that people really keep them as pets. Also, would it be problematic for cows not to be milked (ie painful for them) or do they stop producing milk when they are not nursing calves. I do not mean for you to answer these questions! But I did want you to know that your post provoked a few more questions for me.

M in M

kmouse said...

Thank you for taking the time to read my little post! I'm glad you found it interesting.
There have been a few times where I was invited to go to friends or family's houses for dinner and for the most part they know what my diet is like so they try to accomodate me the best they can. If they can't, then I always ask if I can bring a dish and/or dessert to share. That makes me happy to be able to introduce them to the foods I love to eat.
Regarding your thoughts on raising chickens, cows for food... For those who live on farms, I'm sure they find that this would be a better option than buying their food at supermarkets where most of the meat products come from factory farms. Of course I would wish they didn't eat their animals. My mom actually grew up having chickens, cows and pigs and they never ate them, they were actually pets! I think they only ate the chicken eggs.
But living on a farm with animals vs. a factory farm where hundreds of animals are raised specifically for slaughter are pretty different environments. It's the factory farming industry that I find sad and cruel.
Thanks for reading!

amymylove said...

I really love this post! You said it beautifully!

mvegan said...

So awesome! ;0) Thank you for sharing, your animal companions are adorable, too!

Karen Beth said...

I LOVE this line:

"I love knowing that everything I eat and enjoy did not come from any suffering and pain."

So true, true, true.

Your blog is amazing and this introduction alone has prompted me to put you in my GoogleReader.

Incidentally, I just rescued a pup who I've been calling Buster Brown. Ha! Except that he is solid black... oh well! :)

Thanks for a great post!

Tami said...

It is so comforting to hear your story and know that there are others out there just like me! I will definitely be following your blog for all the awesome recipes you post! So happy I stumbled across your blog and I look forward to trying your recipes!

Anonymous said...

Your "why am I vegan" post was lovely. I always feel happy and find it comforting when I read things like this, from people who think like I do. I live in Australia and have had to sit through barbeques with meat lovers who blatantly bait me with phrases like "mmm, don't you miss this?" while digging into tons of meat. It's hurtful and upsetting when people don't understand and try to convince you that you need meat and the animals "are dumb and don't feel anything". I remember when I made the change, it was a beautiful and powerful thing and I won't ever look back.

kmouse said...

Thanks everyone for reading my post and for your compliments on my blog. I appreciate is so much!

Scott said...

Do you have special vegan powers?

RRassendyll said...

well done. The question of triggers is always interesting and your account is even persuasive. Meatlessness is pretty straightforward. I wonder what might happen if we begin eliminating all animal products, though. To the animals, that is.

Teri said...

Thank you Kim for contributing your recipes.. I can follow a recipe but I can never figure out how to make something on my own. I've been vegetarian for 14 years, I tried to be vegan but lost too much weight. Every veggie cook book and recipe I've tried, I cant remember a single one that was worth trying to cook again. I have cooked 4 of your recipes this past week, and every single one I will cook again, they were a huge hit with my husband (who hates to eat veggies). We've been eating too many processed veggie burgers and veggie chicken, and pasta... We have been buying legumes and lentils and such, but I had no idea how to make them into a great dish. Keep em coming please!
I have a cuddle pit bull too!

Teresa said...

I really enjoyed reading about why you became vegan. Truthfully, I never really thought about why someone would and I appreciate your point of view. I actually came across your blog while searching for recipes. I just started an elimination diet through a naturopathic doctor, so I am looking for ideas on what I can eat!

Anonymous said...

Yet again I find myself here for your super quick and fabulous spinach artichoke dip. I'm not a cook so I really rely on mostly online recipes, and your's are actually quite "doable" for me. So good to see that your blog is "live" and how much you truly Do enjoy exploring the abundant vegan options. This time though, I caught your great post on "Why Am I Vegan," as well as your sweet bully and bird pics. You are an excellent example of how easy eating vegan can be. Amazing you've become such an expert in such a short time. Thanks so much for sharing all the great food ideas you come up with and/or try out! ...And for being veg!

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