Friday, October 25, 2013


Last Sunday night Seth and I were cuddling on the couch after putting Sylvie to bed. Seth suggested we watch a movie and let me pick what I wanted. We scrolled through our Amazon Prime list of movies and I saw one called "Vegucated," a documentary about 3 people who try out being vegan for 6 weeks. I thought it would be interesting and possibly funny. So I queued it up.

Two hours later, depressed and feeling a little "somehow," Seth and I went to bed without saying much. It was a weird ending to an otherwise delightful weekend. 

The next day after I got home from work, we talked about the movie. We'd both had a chance to think about it during the day and pin point what our resulting feelings were. We were both in shock about what we'd seen. I always heard people talk about the meat/dairy/egg industry and about how cruel it was and I'd always just assumed they were mad about animals getting killed. I never really looked into the process. I'd never understood why people had a problem with dairy products or eggs. But now I do. I've actually been reading "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair recently, a book about the horrible work conditions and unsanitary, inhumane treatment of animals in the meatpacking industry of Chicago in the early 20th century. While the work conditions have greatly improved since then, from what I can tell, the treatment of the animals is exactly the same. Like Seth said, it was kind of a punch in the gut. 

On Monday I sat at my desk at lunchtime and wondered what I should eat. I checked the local fast food joints for vegan options and came up with a packet of hot sauce and a bowl of dry lettuce. That definitely wasn't going to fly. I realized then that living a strict vegan lifestyle was not going to be realistic for me. It's not an easy thing to do. Animal products are literally everywhere. It would take up all my time to try and avoid them all. And that doesn't even cover the gigantic topic of social eating. I wasn't about to impose on these restrictions on everyone around me. 

So, I decided that I'll be a soft vegan. Or a part-time vegan. Or an omnivore that greatly reduces my dairy and meat consumption. After that first day at lunch I realized how much meat I actually eat. Nobody needs that much. It's insane really. Especially when there are so many tasty alternatives. I'm slowly transitioning myself to vegan options where possible. So far I've tried soy, almond, and rice milk (all of which are super tasty, esp. vanilla almond milk), faux cheese & sour cream. I'm hoping to try plant-based meat alternatives as well. I've loaded up my pantry with vegan staples like cashews, nutritional yeast, coconut oil, liquid aminos, and seeds. I don't even know how to use them yet. I'm going to try and make food I like-- normal food... just tweaked. I think I can do it and I think it won't be too bad once I get used to doing it. Food is one thing I really enjoy in life and I'm not willing to eat things that taste just "OK." 

At this point I'm just going to do my best. I'm not going to trash homemade goodies from friends or refuse the pot roast at a family dinner. I think that's along the lines of following the letter of the law and ignoring the spirit of it. It's about trying, not perfection. It's about including others, not cementing myself on top of a soapbox. Heck I'll probably check out some local farmers and see if I can get some truly "happy" meat and eggs for the occasional Sunday dinner or weekend omelet. 

I'm actually kind of excited about this new twist in my lifestyle. I'll try my best to give you periodic updates in how it's going. If you want up close and personal info on what I'm eating, check out my Gravy Training blog. I'm hoping to be able to post a lot of new vegan friendly, delicious, NORMAL recipes there in the future, so check it out!


Budsly said...

I watched that show awhile ago also. Eric and I have talked about getting a cow butchered, but it's kind of pricey.A friend of his grew up on a ranch, and his dad still raises cattle. We also have a pig farm on our street that raise pigs for slaughter. Not sure how much it is, but it's a small farm and you come pick the pig. Most people where I live have their own chickens for meat and eggs. I'm sure your neighbors would love that option. I'm not sure I could go vegan. Vegetarian maybe, but I'd have to give up burgers all together cause I've never had a veggie burger or any meat substitute I've liked. Majority of our breakfasts are meat free, and I try to have at least 1-2 dinners a week also, as I'm think about it, a lot of our lunches are too..... well more power to you if you can do it. Good luck!

Rachel said...

Yay for flexiveganism!

heidi said...

I can so, so, so, so relate. I've long been somewhat ambivalent about eating meat in general (not that you said you are) but w/ being prone to low blood sugar it seemed too hard to not have instant protein... (And at the point I started having my concerns I didn't enjoy tofu.) Anyway, I guess it's not even that important why it was hard for me to think about going vegetarian; meat products are such an integral part of our eating, it's hard for anyone raised in an average way to contemplate that step. And it seemed like such a difficult, drastic thing. But, finally, I realized that even if I think I'm fairly okay with the idea of eating meat in an acknowledging the circle-of-life sort of way, I also realized that constantly causing animals to live entire lives of misery just so my food can be CHEAPER was horrendous. But, still--what to do? Where to begin? All felt like so much. Then, a series of events over a long period of time made me realize that although being absolute and perfect was nigh impossible, that making ONE change at a time (ie, free range eggs--remember?!) WAS doable and made some kind of difference. If only to make me feel less like an indirect but still guilty perpetrator of casual evil. Anyway; the whole thing is a heavy deal... But your story impresses me a lot for 2 reasons--you seemed to realize overnight (compared to my many months or even years of struggle) that significant-but-not-absolute, flexible changes (and, even, single doable changes at a time) are possible. (I started off transitioning to free range meat, but, just at home and even then not exclusively--but it's become easier and easier to eat guilt-free as I've altered my habits and even, expanded some preferences... It just seems natural. And equally tasty. Although it's hard to eat out, sometimes. Anyway, all the sudden, a month or two ago I realized I'm practically a pescatarian, now. The only gap I can't figure out is cheese--where is the cheese made from happy cows & where can I get it??!!!) The second thing I'm so impressed with is how clear but POSITIVE your story is. I felt like such a total asshole w/ my place in the cruelty-to-animals thing... I think when I've talked to people I've not been clear what my concerns are, nor been good about sharing, in a joyful way, the freshness and openness of conscientious flexibility that you've described so beautifully. I'm envious of that, but pleased for you. And Paul would hurrah your not turning down pot roasts and so on... He thinks being a good guest is important. (I, on the other hand, am nothing but annoyed when my own mother tells me excitedly that we're having ham for Xmas when I've not eaten red meat in over a decade.) See? I'm Eeyore. You and Paul--uh. One of the other ones. :)