The beginning of September will mark ONE YEAR for our family as vegans. It seems like it has been so much longer. It’s been fun and the best decision I’ve made, seriously. I feel as great as I can imagine I could at 25 weeks pregnant and I have a happy, healthy, and compassionate family. It felt like a good time to get a little into OUR story.
We started off our vegan journey for health reasons, as I think most do. We honestly started looking into it years ago, and the facts are undeniable. Of course, when I first started getting information I thought, “geez, that’s strict! I wonder how they get enough protein.”, so I try to keep my patience when I hear other people say the same thing now. That was all I thought about it that day. Then, I’d hear someone talking about it, or I would come across a video, or just get curious and I’d start looking into it more. I got Will interested and we began watching a ton of documentaries and YouTube videos. Soon, it seemed less crazy and started to really make sense. We felt played and lied to, but even then, we never actually took the plunge. We knew the health benefits, but we didn’t really know how to cook or eat vegan. What COULD we eat? We practically based all our meals around meat.
The following Christmas, someone gave us a vegan cook book (we weren’t shy about our interest in it) and we would play with the recipes once in a while, but still… nothing serious. Then, my daughter started to get to where she was getting interested in what we were eating. This is when it got real for me. I couldn’t wholeheartedly feed her what I KNEW was terrible for her and her body. My precious baby girl couldn’t make an informed decision on what to eat at 5 months old. If it were up to her, she’d live on dirt. This is the moment when the guilt really set in. I couldn’t eat meat, dairy, and eggs in front of her, then try to teach her that they were bad for her.
There was no “transition” for us. We talked long and hard about it one night, and the next day, emptied our fridge and pantry and went shopping. That was it for us. It was September 1, 2016. We’ve had our “oops” moments when we missed an ingredient, or didn’t realize something was animal derived, but we figured it out. We’ve spent money on things and they were awful. We’ve made recipes then had to turn around and cook something else because we couldn’t stomach them. We’ve thrown away whole packages of food. We’ve tried tricks here and there, and some worked and some didn’t. We continued to learn, and are still learning.
Now, we know how to eat vegan and cheap. I know how to replicate most anything, with just plant-based foods, and if I think of something I don’t, I’ll find out how to. I don’t believe you have to “give up” anything when you go vegan. It doesn’t have to be about all the things you’re going to miss. When there is a problem, we fix it. If I want something that normally wouldn’t be vegan, I find an alternative or I figure out how to make it myself. It’s a fun, sometimes stressful, but mostly fun and exciting, adventure to try to replicate, or even come up with, something new.
Then, after I got comfortable in my kitchen as a vegan, we continued to research. This is when ethics really started to play a role in our veganism. It’s like, I KNEW, but I didn’t REALLY know. People aren’t oblivious to where their meat is coming from, they just don’t think about it. People CHOOSE not to think about it. It’s a sad and disturbing industry and no one wants to feel guilt while eating a meal. It kind of ruins the satisfaction. We’ve been conditioned this way. Disassociation, I call it. Most people don’t see or even think “cow” when they see a juicy burger or a carton of milk. They KNOW, but they don’t.
I think this is an important step in veganism. It’s what truly holds you accountable. I can agree that it’s hard for me to hear how much someone “loves animals”, but they also eat them and support the cruel industry that is abusing and killing them. We don’t need meat, dairy and eggs to live a sustainable and healthy life, so there is clearly no purpose for all of these animals to suffer. “Cage free”, “free range”, “grass-fed”, organic…. those are just marketing schemes, guys. While, yes, there may be no cages, it’s not much different unfortunately. Instead of cages, these animals are shoved in other small spaces or they have “free range” of a packed warehouse that they can’t move around in. It’s sadly not as cheery as they try to make it seem. And it gets so much worse… whether you focus on the suffering of innocent animals or the enviormental horrors caused by factory farms.
I know there are small, family farms that are no where near as awful and miserable and some animals, who later become meals, live a rather happy life there; but if you’re buying your meat from a grocery store, the chances you’re getting that “happy animal” meat is nearly 0. Not to mention, in my opinion, even if they are given a great life before slaughter, who are we to take a happy animals life purely for taste? Human meat may be delicious, so would it be okay if someone killed another person for a meal because it was just “SOOO GOOD”, as long as they treated them nicely before they murdered them? I don’t think so. Same concept. Animals are sentient beings, just like we are. They love and want, and form bonds and relationships, and have a will to live.
For me, it comes down to compassion. Even if I didn’t care about my health and had the, “we’re gonna die anyways” mentality, I would still have compassion for other beings and their will to live a happy life. That’s what sets humanity apart; our compassion for others and our ability to empathize. For Will, it was similar. Of course, the health aspects of a vegan diet are evident, but watching what happens to these animals so that we can have something unnecessary to us just seems insane. For my daughter, I just want her to teach her to love all beings, regardless of any disposition(s)