Sure, snapping pictures of what I eat is fun, but one of the great things I love about Vegan MoFo is that it keeps veganism and vegetarianism in the forefront of my mind. It's a great time to reflect about why I've chosen to eat the way I do, and I thought I'd share that with all of you.
When I first stopped eating meat (and that was all meat, excluding seafood) it was because I was interested in being healthier. I knew, in my bones, that there was something about eating meat that didn't make me feel good, I just wasn't in touch with my body enough to describe or explain this feeling. I was also a bit pudgy after graduating college, so that was a concern as well. But the change didn't happen overnight -- it was a combination of a few different elements and influences: visceral experience, gathering of information, and being able to really talk about veganism.
First off, growing up we at a lot of chicken -- my family owned a poultry market so the slaughtering of animals was a part of my childhood and adolescence. And yes, I participated in the business in a very hands-on way (I like to tell people I'm working on atonement these days). My mom had a cookbook called 365 Ways to Cook Chicken and I certainly ate about 350 of them.
Then in my early twenties I went to Australia where, to my surprise, I found out they eat both of their national animals (WTF, right?!). It was here that I ate grilled kangaroo for dinner and had the most surprising visceral and emotional reaction to eating an animal. I remember feeling nauseous and also making the emotional/mental connection with the idea that the meat came from an animal they celebrated. I had no idea why I would react in such a way, since the idea that meat comes from the grocery store was demystified for me at a very young age. On the (long) plane ride home from Oz, I read Skinny Bitch and so began my education about veganism and search for a solution for my sudden repulsion of meat.
Cute, right? Down under they are apparently as common as deer.
Once I got home, I was lucky to have a dear vegan friend and colleague (who was a new friend back then) who always brought me wonderful foods to try and spoke candidly about the benefits of veganism. She encouraged me and led me to some beginner vegetarian information sources. This was when I started reading vegan food blogs like Vegan Dad and Vegan Crunk and continued to purchase vegan books and cookbooks. And though I started thinking about vegetarianism and veganism for health reasons, I have really found that all of the reasons define my choice: health, ethical/moral, and environmental. It has taken me years to transition from pescatarian to vegetarian to now what I like to call 90% vegan (hey, I'm a work in progress).
The ethical/moral aspect is what I want to entertain for a moment in relation to my personal connection with animals. I grew up with a dog and always felt very connected to her, and these days I'm a cat lady (don't cringe, people -- I don't fit the stereotype, I promise). There are moments when I look at my cat and cannot even describe the connection (and sure, I've welled up with tears once or twice in these moments) -- this aspect of being in tune with other beings is integral to how I prefer to live my life and view the world. Even my boyfriend is amazed at how connected she (the cat) and I are (she and he are bonding [slowly] as well...).
Ailsah is my study buddy, my snuggle buddy, and such a joyous part of home life for me. Thanks for being the best cat ever!
She really knows how to be adorable.
And encourages me to study too.
Sometimes I think she wishes she could write -- she's always nearby when I'm writing or trying to pick up a pen (she's polydactyl)!
What is your connection with your pets? What are your reasons for not eating meat and/or animal products?