Sunday, February 4, 2007

Do as much as you can and push that edge every day (the incremental approach)

I thought I should share more about how I went vegan. I don't think I have talked about that much here. So, here is my story...

My husband, Mike, and I had been vegetarian off and on over the course of our marriage. We went vegetarian when we lived in Charleston, SC about 13 years ago-ish. We did this for a variety of reasons, but over time got comfortable and forgot why we had gone vegetarian in the first place. We didn't take the time to remind ourselves. We made a bad decision and went back to eating meat after about 6 years of being vegetarian. We ate meat for a few years after that, but realized that we had this lingering guilt floating around us. We decided that we needed to live by our morals and go back to being vegetarian. We did not want to kill or cause suffering to any other living creatures. It took me a while to transition back over. I went pescotarian and continued to eat fish for a while. One day I was watching Iron Chef USA on TV and the ingredient was some kind of fish. They took living fish out of tanks of water at gutted them alive. I was horrified. That was the day I made the full transition back to vegetarianism. I never planned to go vegan. I thought that was way to extreme, too difficult, and thought that vegans were crazy people.

I thought that I was no longer causing harm to other animals. I started reading articles and listening to the Vegan Freak podcast. I thought I would enjoy the podcast as a vegetarian. At first I resented the pressure I felt from the podcast (and other things I was reading) to go vegan. But the more I listened, the more I learned about the suffering of animals used to produce our food, including milk and dairy, and I learned that animals are still killed for me even though I was not eating meat (see previous posts on milk and eggs). I decided that I wasn't going to go vegan, but that I would do my best to reaplace these things when possible. I learned to bake without eggs (I make mean muffins and cupcakes!) and replaced milk in recipes with soy milk. Each day I realized that I could do a little more. After a few months of this thought process, the only animal products I still consumed consisted of cream in my coffee, cheese, and hidden ingredients (since I didn't read labels to check for milk or eggs). I found Silk creamer and got rid of the cream in my coffee too.

One day I was listening to the Vegan Freak podcast and Bob challenged people to try going vegan for 3 weeks. I decided to do this. At first I didn't even tell Mike. I was just doing it on the sly. I didn't plan any meals that week that contained animal products. I finally told him that I was only "trying" it for 3 weeks. I had previously promised not to go vegan because Mike also saw it as difficult and too extreme. He was a little irritated with me because we both knew that I wouldn't go backwards. I knew after about 1 day of being vegan that I was going to stay that way. Mike eventually came around too a couple of months later.

It really was easy. The food tastes good. It is not any more expensive that being vegetarian or eating meat (probably cheaper). The only thing hard about being vegan is dealing with other people. People ask so many questions and some make fun. I have a co-worker that irritates my by bringing it up every day at lunch. It can be difficult to eat out. But all of that is really not a problem because if you believe that we shouldn't be using sentient beings for our own ends (eating them because they taste good) then you really have to live by that and go vegan.

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