I love, loved, and practically had an affair with cheese. I’ve been drinking cow’s milk since before I can remember, and ice cream and I have a special relationship. My grandparents owned milk cows at one point, so I’ve had it practically straight from the cow itself. I’ve also tried goat’s milk – that was an interesting strike to the senses. Turkey and chicken, steak and eggs, hamburger, hot dogs, and fish – I ate them all. I was an all-American kid that way. And growing up I had helped butcher chickens on my grandparent’s farm. I was privy to the process of skinning and dressing a deer. None of this was new to me.
I had started cleaning up my diet, a lot, about two years ago. But of course I still had a little of all of my favorite foods. And to be honest, there were times I craved nothing except for some kind of meat. (Internal signals anyone??) So when I made the decision to go vegan, you can imagine the surprise of my friends and family. Of course, I had done a vegan cleanse for about a week a while back, but that was just to re-balance myself, really. And that week had been one of the hardest of my life. Granted, I had made it much harder than it needed to be, but you can see where I’m going with this.
I want to say it was about a year ago that I watched Food, Inc. That documentary woke me up. It put it right in my face – the meat we’re getting at the store today isn’t the same meat I helped with as a kid. It’s not from the happy chickens and cows I remember growing up. For a few days I can honestly say that the sight of meat wasn’t exactly appealing. But after a while I did what we all do when we don’t feel ready for change: I shoved that information into the back of my head.
These last few months have been months of educating and learning; months of growing and evolving for me. I have changed my mind about a lot of things I had thought were set in stone. I have woken up to things that I cannot fall asleep on again. As I started my journey into the all-natural, organic, and minimalist worlds, I started becoming concerned about the fact that I still had no real idea of what was in the meat I was eating. I would look at chicken breasts and compare them in my head to what I knew they should look like. I wouldn’t go near pork anymore, and I started questioning what kind of beef I was eating (TMI: I hardly ever ate beef because it gave me intestinal gas). And that led me to two more documentaries: Earthlings and Vegucated. Just a warning for those who are prone to queasiness: Earthlings is NOT for the faint of heart. I have a pretty tough stomach, but even I couldn’t bring myself to finish that one. After I really had my eyes opened to the meat farming practices in the US, I just couldn’t justify my eating habits anymore.
That’s not to say that I think vegan-ism is for everyone and that I’m demanding that those around me jump on my bandwagon, I’m just saying that it’s a choice I’ve made for myself. It’s actually a funny experience watching people react to the news that I’ve decided to go mostly vegan.* And I’ve given the same statement so many times in the last few days after someone feels like they have to justify themselves to me: “It’s fine if you want to continue eating meat, I’m not saying you cant. I’m just saying this is a choice I’ve made for myself.” I know I’ll have to put more thought into the foods I eat, the places I eat, and the way I eat – but for me, that just makes it more fun. I love the fact that I get to try out new recipes. (I also found out that bread baking is an art form, and I’m NOT good at it….yet).
So here’s to all of our new adventures – May they be many and exciting – in the upcoming year!
*I do still eat honey because of my sensitivity to most other forms of sugar – but I only eat it raw and from sources I trust.