Besides everyone wanting to know how I get my protein, sometimes they want to know why I'm vegan. Everyone who follows a veg lifestyle does it for alternative reasons. If I am going to be completely honest, which is always more fun and humorous than lies and fabrications, it's that I was dating a hot vegan. And we worked together at a popular vegetarian restaurant in a little city you may have heard of called Chicago. Restaurant in question-The Chicago Diner. It took about 6 months of working there (and being a meat eater, gasp!) before I finally decided to go cold turkey and try being vegan. I was influenced by more than my (ex)boyfriend, but I think he deserves some credit. Being surrounded by people who took on not only what they were eating, but where they were spending their money as a form of activism seemed really exciting and inspiring.
|My old coworker Nick and I, after a very long day at The Chicago Diner. Still smiling, though. He's vegan in this pic, I am not quite there yet.|
I struggled the first year, and I still struggle. I liked meat, I liked dairy products. I miss them sometimes. I think it's more important to do the best you can, than be 100%, 100% of the time. We all make mistakes. I don't read the ingredients thoroughly on something I assume is vegan and I don't send food back if a mistake is made regarding dairy, most recently, sour cream. The not sending food back comes from not wanting to waste and working in the restaurant industry-my burrito would just be thrown away and then what? It's a waste of food and labor, which to me, defeats the purpose. And those little blunders end with me realizing I don't want to eat animal products, that I'm doing this for a reason!
In a bar one night in Chicago, a vegetarian peer explained to me that not all vegans or vegetarians give up meat and cheese because they don't like the taste of those things anymore, but because....I can't remember exactly - we were drinking and it was four years ago...something about the bigger fight at hand, compassion, and believing in not slaughtering animals for food. That really stuck with me, though obviously not verbatim. She ended up being my ex's rebound after we broke up, but that's a whole 'nother story.
One morning I passed a newspaper stand in Chicago, in which the headline of the paper read "If you want more free range beef, you're going to have to slaughter more free range cattle". Perfect.
I became vegan because I wanted to try something new and adventurous those four years ago - taking on not eating animal products as a form of compassion, sympathy and activism was the direction to go. It made me uncomfortable, secretive (What if I failed?! What if everyone starting judging me and asking questions I couldn't answer?!) yet also extremely empowered, especially at a time when I felt so helpless about our country being at war for so long. Learning new ways to live your life can be fun. Especially cruelty free ways! And hey, my boyfriend was doing it, as well as his roommates and most of my coworkers. I didn't think veganism would last long with me (always a bit of a pessimist) but here I am, and it will be 4 years in April.
|Vegan chocolate and caramel cake for my friend's 29th bday. Having fun with it.|
I could go into facts and statistics about not eating animal products, but I'm not gonna. You can look those up on your own. I will state one though, my favorite, "Seldom mentioned is that cows and other ruminants, such as sheep and goats, are walking gas factories that take in fodder and put out methane and nitrous oxide, two greenhouse gases that are far more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. Methane, with 21 times the warming potential of CO2, comes from both ends of a cow, but mostly the front. Frat boys have nothing on bovines, as it's estimated that a single cow can belch out anywhere from 25 to 130 gallons of methane a day."
Cow gas and belches=global warming. But hey, don't take it from me, this was pulled from http://www.vegansworldnetwork.org/topic_environment_killer_cow_emissions.php . I also remember reading about this in my Biology101 class at Humboldt State.