I’m coming up on 2 months of being on a mostly vegan diet, and I definitely couldn’t be happier about my decision to do so. While all the aspects of veganism appealed to me, I admittedly initially chose this path for health reasons. After seeing the film “Forks Over Knives” (which is an absolute must-see by the way), it was clear to me that the only way to avoid disease, obesity and lack of well being is to adopt a whole foods, plant based diet.
I’d heard stories of animal cruelty in factory farms, which was actually the reason I went vegan for the first time last year. The book “Skinny Bitch” actually brought me to tears at one point. But I wholeheartedly believed that grass-fed, free range, organically raised meat was okay. I thought that picturesque farm with the red barn and the green pastures still existed in those contexts. This mental comfort was enough to get me back on animal products after my doctor told me (mistakenly) I was deficient in protein and my body couldn’t sustain a vegan lifestyle with all my other dietary restrictions. Funny story, after all the research I’ve done, its pretty damn hard to become protein deficient on a diet rich in fruits, veggies and legumes. Wish I would have known that then.
Ultimately though, I was returned to the practice of veganism. And although I’ve had a few slip ups (drunkenly ordering crab at that restaurant in Lincoln City), I believe completely in veganism.
But if I thought I was sold before, I am more now than ever. I’m a reader. I love books, especially books dealing with wellness and food. Becoming vegan made me want to get my hands on every book ever written on the subject. I’m so consumed by finding out more information, gaining more knowledge. The book “Veganist” caught my eye when it came out recently, and I immediately got on the waiting list at the library to read it. Well, I’m almost done with it now, and my whole perpective had changed.
Like I mentioned before, I had an inkling of knowledge about slaughterhouse practices and such, but that inkling didn’t sustain my choice the first go-around. After reading first hand accounts from the author’s interviewees I probably still don’t know the half of it, but I will never be the same. As I was reading, at work mind you, about a mother cow being separated from her newborn calf, I literally burst into tears. With customers in the store. I had to go compose myself in the bathroom before returning to work, but that was no easy feat.
So here’s my rant. I can’t begin to comprehend what would make someone want to hurt an innocent animal. Monetary gain or not, how could anyone be morally capable of killing an animal, who has feelings and clearly knows love just as much, if not more, than human beings. And the killers aren’t the only ones to blame. We are basically accomplices to murder by being willing to purchase that meat and feed it to our families and ourselves. I think that if most normal, innately compassionate people let themselves understand where their meat really comes from, they would be outraged. And yet, almost everyone I know purposely turns a blind eye to it. I, too, was content doing that for so long, and unfortunately, there was no one that could change my mind. This is where I get stuck. People get defensive when you suggest they change something monumental about themselves. We don’t want negative things about ourselves pointed out, I know because I’m extremely defensive about a lot of my character flaws. But all I desparately want to do is tell every single person I know about the knowledge I’ve acquired. I want everyone to listen to me, to believe me and to make the change. At some moments, I’m so worked up I could bomb a slaughterhouse myself. I know that veganism is tied to my purpose in this life, but how do I present it to people in a way that won’t make them defensive, in a way that might actually make them listen? I wasn’t open to hearing about this stuff even a few years ago so why should I expect anyone else to be?
Another point made in the book that I never thought about before but now makes perfect sense is the tie to spirituality. For a regular churchgoer, I actually had no idea that veganism was the inital diet intended for humans…it’s right there in Genesis, before even the Ten Commandments. God didn’t put animals on the Earth to be tortured and killed, especially the way it’s done today. Christianity, as well as most other religions, teaches compassion towards God’s creation, and that includes animals. If we would treat an animal with disrespect, who’s to say we wouldn’t do the same to another person?
I really can’t explain how much this has changed me. For so long I’ve strived for well-being, physical, mental and spiritual. I’ve been to countless yoga classes, meditated, read scripture, and yet somehow was missing out on what it all really meant. But now that I see how directly my choices can affect other living beings, and suddenly all those things I’d been doing seem much more appealing. Not to say that I’ll all of the sudden master meditation and yoga, but it now has a purpose that I can understand. I’m sorry, reading this over I think I’m probably the only one who can connect the dots between the points I’m making, but bear with me, I needed to get that out.
I believe I’ve been called to action. I’m still not sure what that action is, but I know it’s tied to writing and to this newfound almost childlike compassion. I mean, when I was a kid I think I loved animals more than people, before I’d ever really even come in contact with an animal. So I guess we’ll see where this all takes me. Life’s a crazy ride isn’t it?