Dear Starfish Diaries, Health, Vegan Livin

Vegan is not a 4 letter word. And yes, I miss cheese.

I’ve been meaning to write a post on veganism for awhile, but struggled to find the right time.  I know that any mention of a vegan lifestyle is an immediate turnoff for a lot of people, and it was important to me to establish myself as a non-judgy, somewhat normal (hmm, might’ve failed there) fellow human before risking my audience’s reaction to a post with “vegan” in the title.  I’m not sure if I’m there yet, and let’s be honest, my audience is still in its early stages (those of you who are here are just the BEST.  THE BEST!).  But hell, there’s no time like the present, and if you haven’t run away screaming yet, we might just have a chance to get through this together.

I think part of me always felt a little wrong eating meat.  I had to deliberately not think about where my food came from, because the reality gave me a guilty feeling.  Now, as a person with anxiety, I am plagued by guilty feelings pretty much all of every day, and sometimes deliberately ignoring them is the right thing to do.

 No, Liz, you did not offend the scary homeless person by locking your doors.  Just because you didn’t say “I love you” before you hung up the phone does not mean something horrible will happen causing you to regret it for the rest of your life.  Yes, the stove was off when you left the house.  Why?  Because you haven’t cooked in a week.  

However, this guilty feeling felt different.  I suspected something bad was happening, and if I let myself really KNOW about the bad stuff, I could never un-know it.  So I kept not knowing.

The feeling became stronger when I got involved with animal rescue.  Stronger still when I let myself learn about how smart, sensitive, and relationship-oriented farm animals are.  Then I read the book.

I really just wanted to lose weight, dude- not change my entire value system.

It was called “Skinny Bitch.”  I thought it might make me feel cool and get skinny all at once.  Nah.  It went waaay into factory farming, the horrendous treatment of farm animals, and the inevitable ending of lives that we studiously ignore or try to convince ourselves is “humane.”  Shit.  Couldn’t un-know it anymore.

So I became a vegetarian on the spot, and truly never looked back.  Did burgers and barbecue still smell delicious to me?  Heck yeah!  Do they to this day?  Sure do, I’m sorry to say.  But I also feel really sad when I walk past the meat section, and have nightmares- real ones- that I accidentally start eating meat again.

I dabbled in veganism over the years, but always went back to eggs and dairy, telling those around me that I just felt depleted, and it was too hard.  Those around me readily agreed that going vegan is just crazy and not sustainable.  But the more I read about the egg and dairy industries, and how they really are the SAME as the meat industry, the less I could un-know that, too.  So vegan I became, and depleted I am not.  I eat plenty, and while I struggle with balancing fiber and protein and carbs and all the vitamins and minerals we need to live- that has nothing to do with my vegan lifestyle, and everything to do with bread and oreos tasting better than spinach and beans!  There is truly no difference in difficulty balancing a vegan diet versus a non-vegan diet.  We all have to say no to pizza once in a while if we want to feel good.

The purpose of this post is not to force you to become vegan, or to make you feel bad about your lifestyle.  The purpose of this blog as a whole is to make you feel good about yourself, and to encourage you to make others feel good as well.  For me, vegan is the only way I can live my life and feel good about me.  And do I wish that everyone was vegan, and no animal had to suffer?  Absolutely.  But I ate animals for most of my life, and the people I love most in the world eat animals, and while that makes me sad, it doesn’t make me love them any less.

I’m vegan because I believe that every living creature has value.  If I devalue you for not being vegan, I don’t have much of a leg to stand on, do I?  

I’ve joined and then left many a vegan group online, finding them to be far too hateful.  It makes me think of pro-life groups who murder gynecologists.  That contradiction will forever baffle me.  When I became vegan, it was out of love, and if someone had tried to shame me, or call me names, or try to hurt me before I made that choice, I would have run as far in the other direction as my appetite could take me!

When people come to me asking for education on the vegan diet, I so so happily comply.  If you would like some information here on this blog that I haven’t offered up already, I will so so happily provide it!  And if you had a chicken dinner tonight but still want to ask me questions, I will just as gladly oblige.

If you haven’t already, I would urge you to check out one of my favorite sanctuary stories, Esther the Wonder Pig.  Esther’s dads follow an “Esther Approved Diet,” shying away from the less favorable vegan label.  Their loving way of promoting a kindness based lifestyle is completely inspiring, and I truly think they’re changing the world.

I’ll write more in the future about specific dietary choices, but for now I wanted to put my thoughts out there to encourage you to be less afraid of the word “vegan.”  I get it- even when I was vegetarian, vegan sounded scary, and made me feel bad.  And I clung to eggs and cheese like nobody’s business.  But I eat plenty of delicious food now, and don’t feel deprived, and it has nothing to do with willpower, and everything to do with what feels like the right thing to do.

But yes, I miss cheese.  Vegan cheese sucks.  And bacon will always smell good and make my stomach growl.  Veggie burgers are delicious, but turkey burgers were my fave, and I sure wish turkeys were jerks.  I do have moments when I feel like it’s unfair that I made this choice while the rest of the world dines away happily, but they pass.  I have many more moments when I feel really proud of who I am, proud of the label, and hey- lentil hummus is vegan, so life is pretty damn good.

If anything from this post sticks with you, I hope these three things do:

  • Vegan is not a bad word; it is based upon love, not hate.
  • Check out Esther the Wonder Pig.  Even if she doesn’t change your life, you’ll be glad you did.
  • I think you are fantastic.

 

 

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