Friday, February 25, 2011

On being an ex-vegan

What we eat and what we don't eat says a lot about who we are.

In the States, pancakes and eggs, waffles and bagels are standard breakfast fare. The idea that someone might eat tomatoes, feta cheese, olives and cucumbers for breakfast, might seem odd. In other parts of the world, beans on toast or even miso soup are the norm.

Indians believe cows are sacred, while Muslims believe pigs are dirty, and thus don't eat them.

For most of my life, I didn't think twice about what I ate and why. My parents raised me and my sister on a varied diet, mostly healthy vegetables, grains and occasional meat and chicken.

I actually quite liked meat. I didn't eat it often, but when I did (once or twice a month), I savored it.

And then it all changed. One day I was sitting at home, looking through my sister's books, trying to find something to read when I stumbled upon 'Skinny Bitch' by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. The titled appealed to me- who wouldn't want to be a skinny bitch? So I read it, then and there, all the way through. It was truly illuminating. I learned so much about factory farming and the way animals are raised that I had never heard of before.

I became fanatical. I become a vegan right then and there and read and watched everything I could on the subject. 'Food Inc.', 'Eating Animals', 'The Face on Your Plate', 'Diet for a New America', 'Vegan Freak' and more. In so many ways, I am thankful for the awakening that occurred in me.

But I also became judgmental. I judged those who weren't vegan or vegetarian, like they were lesser or less informed and made it my mission to educate them, constantly. I gave my fiance 'the look' every time he ate meat near me, and I generally just became a really annoying person to be around. I didn't like this part of myself. I struggled. Why couldn't I have my own beliefs and let others live however they pleased? And that's when I realized, I hadn't convinced myself. You see, if I had been completely confident in my own beliefs, I wouldn't have felt the need to bring others onto my team. It wouldn't have bothered me. But it did, because I wasn't totally happy with my choice.

I didn't miss meat and I still don't. But I missed cheese and yogurt. And I missed desserts and baking with eggs! And I felt guilty for these feelings, which is ridiculous! I soon came to the realization that no one is perfect, including me. I decided to honor the beliefs I felt very strongly about (like not eating flesh), but to be easier on myself about other things I really missed.

Becoming 'un-vegan' has made me a much more accepting and kinder person, I believe, to those around me, and to myself. As a Taurus, I run the risk of seeing life in black and white, and it's not.
The sooner you realize how gray life is, the easier it becomes.

Please feel free to share your thoughts, if you'd like.

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