It was over 3 years ago now that I made the decision to go “free-range-itarian” which essentially meant that I would only eat meat/fish if the animal had a good, happy, life. This was a decision that agreed with my morals, as I care about animals and their treatment, and it was time to do something about it.
I won’t lie, it was hard at first. I had a “once a week” exception, not to mention exceptions for when other people made food for me (I didn’t want to impose). It took about a year before I stopped making weekly exceptions, and it took another year before I stopped making exceptions when food was made for me. The last 6 months has been the transition to exclusively free range eggs and organic milk. I have gotten to the point where I avoid marshmallows (gelatin), leather, medicine capsules (also gelatin), and all those “hidden” animal products. It started restricting what cheese I could get because rennet is in a lot of cheeses.
These choices all felt natural to me, as I made them. And these choices have all been leading in the same direction: veganism. But I didn’t know that until last night.
Last night my fiance suggested that we watch a documentary that had 3 New Yorkers go vegan for 6 weeks, called “Vegucated“. It was a very graphic movie, and forced me to face the realities of the production of dairy and eggs that you can buy at the store–even the organic/free range kind. Watch it at your own discretion, please. It was an extremely intense experience for me (I cried), but it made me come to terms with the fact that I will be happiest the more vegan I become.
The reality is, living in a big city as I do, being vegan is an option. It is a relatively easy option. There are lots of health-oriented grocery stores filled to the brim with vegan food. Okay, well, not lots. And not filled to the brim. But they do have a fair number of alternatives.
This part will be harder though. I am much more attached to dairy products (cheese and ice cream are comfort foods for me) and eggs, which are both good sources of protein when you’re not consuming any meat. However, there are places you can actually buy eggs where the hens are allowed to live out their days even though they’ve stopped producing eggs, and where the male chicks are allowed to grow up, too. It’s just a matter of finding them. And there are ice creams made out of non-dairy products.
There are other reasons to go vegan though. For one, it’s healthier. It’s harder to buy food out which means that we will do it less. Not to mention that dairy, while high in protein, is also high in sugar and fat. There are many fewer available junk-food-y vegan products. It’s easy to supplement a diet with lots of bread…much harder when you have to make the bread yourself.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are vegan breads you can buy out there. Unfortunately for us, we recently made the decision to try a low gluten diet (for health reasons). Low gluten and vegan? Right. I guess we have our work cut out for us.
The weirdest part of all of this is, if you’d told me even 5 years ago that I would be trying to go vegan, I would have looked at you like you were crazy. If you’d told me that I had (mostly) become a vegetarian, I also would have looked at you like you were crazy. But I can tell you for sure that I am very proud of myself for making this decision.
It was time for a new journey anyway.