Adventures in Veganism

Eight months ago, I made the decision to become pescetarian. It was a decision, that for me, was a long time coming. Although I'd always enjoyed biting into a chicken sandwich I hated the sight of a whole chicken. I had trouble cooking meat for dinner, and absolutely refused to eat any meat that truly resembled the animal. I was an oddity in my family. I grew up with hunters. I'd even seen deer slain right before my eyes. I consistently came up with excuses on Thanksgiving as to why I wasn't eating meat carved from the carcass of a turkey. Finally, after a few days of research I made the switch. I did it for many reasons. First, the reasons aforementioned. I was never a big meat eater anyway and hated the sight of raw meat. Second, economical reasons. One of the most shocking things that I read was that if all of the grain that went to livestock in this country actually went to feeding our hungry, no one would be hungry! Yea, seriously. Okay maybe it's all propaganda, but either way it touched me. Third, my love for animals. I kept thinking of how I felt about my dogs. If you gave me a cow to take care of I'd eventually develop those same loving feelings for it as well.

With all that said, I'm completely aware that pescetarianism, vegetarianism, or veganism is not for everyone. Maybe you don't care all that much about animals (#my family). That's fine, I find it weird, but that's fine. Not everyone has this innate love for the creatures of the world. Although my brother finds companionship in a dog, he wouldn't take it to the vet for anything. That's just his nature, and I don't judge him for it. Some people physically are not able to live these nutritional lifestyles. Their health relies on their intake of meat. I had tried previously to convert to vegetarianism. At 16 years old I was a picky eater with little understanding of how to feed myself on a vegetarian diet. I became extremely ill and had to give it up. Even properly educated people can become sick on these strict diets. Lastly, some people have a different view of animals all together which I will discuss later.

The path as a pescetarian was certainly not a straight one. For the first few months I continuously slipped up. I forgot that french onion soup had beef broth. I didn't check labels or ask servers about ingredients. It took some getting used to but I found that once I got there, despite my picky demeanor, I was actually eating more foods. I was enjoying foods I never thought I would enjoy. Plus, I was healthier. By osmosis my mom actually started developing similar eating habits and I believe its aided in her loss of nearly 30 pounds so far!

However, as a pescetarian I continually asked myself if I was doing enough. Is eating fish really okay? Is it better if they're from the wild or from a farm? Do they have feelings? Should I give up shellfish? I still wanted to do more to show my compassion for animals. So I decided to embark on a new adventure, veganism, and the perfect occasion was about to arise.

I had never participated in Lent, but I'd always been intrigued by the self-control that people developed during this time. I figured 40 days, breaks on Sunday, I could easily pull off the vegan switch. So I decided to give it a try. I am currently in the midst of it all, but I'll tell you what I've learned so far.

Once again this path was not a straight one. I realized during the second week that some of my favorite veggie substitutes were not actually vegan. I ran out of food to eat that week and became very irritated by the amount of lettuce I was consuming. However, after some adventures at Whole Foods I was able to continue on into the next week. I've found some great new foods that I love, and by no means am I going hungry, but I do find myself dissatisfied. Is this really a life choice that I could make? And if I don't make it, am I really making a difference? See all those cows that I was eating before, well they're still on farms getting milk sucked out of them. Those chickens I gave up, well they're still laying eggs in tiny cages. I realized that if I really wanted to make a difference in the lives of farm animals veganism was the only way, but I just wasn't happy.

Slowly the memories of my grandparents farm came back to me. Happy cows, happy chickens running through open fields. Animals well taken care of and even treasured (at least by my grandmother although she'd never admit it). On my way home I started recognizing the cows in the field. I asked myself how many of the cows I ate truly came from those terrible places you see in films. My brain began to balance all of the propaganda I'd been given. Finally, I came to a controversial conclusion founded mainly on my faith.

These animals were created for our use. Those are loaded words that would certainly get me shoved at a PETA meeting. Now I'm not saying animals were created for us to abuse. I think animals are God's creatures worthy of being served just as much as they serve us. As hard as that may be for people to swallow, it's my belief. I still greatly respect the vegetarians and vegans in the world, but that life choice just isn't for me. With all that said, I am still on my Vegan mission! I promised 40 days, and I intend to finish strong. Even after those 40 days I plan to stick to a mostly pescetarian diet, but I'm not going to punish myself if every few weeks I get the craving for a turkey burger...I'm still not sure I could consume cow.

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