To Be or Not to Be Vegan

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I’ve never considered myself a conscious eater. Like a lot of people I had a stereotype of what conscious eaters looked like – crunchy, Birkenstocks and preachy.

Oh Patchouli is involved. Always lots of patchouli.

For health reasons (at least that’s what I’ve told myself) I have eaten a lot less meat. I’m a proponent of the Meatless Monday Movement and think that eating less meat is better for you and the planet. But I avoided the whole ‘it’s wrong to kill animals’ line of thinking.

And truthfully, I’m not sure why. I read Fast Food Nation when it came out. What shocked me was the conditions of slaughterhouses, for animals and employees alike. For several months I couldn’t eat meat. I cringed at the grocery store. The meat section looked like a graveyard. Inevitably, came the period when the shock of what I read wore off and I went back to eating meat.

I remember the day clearly.

The smell of a grilled burger attacked me in the lobby of a hotel in Arizona. I paused for a moment, knowing that I was going to make a choice that didn’t sit with me morally. Weakness prevailed and the burger was eaten. It’s been this way the few times that I’ve decided to stop eating meat.

I wrote post about my fears of taking the full vegetarian plunge.  Clearly, it must be something that I want to do because it’s on my mind quite a bit. And don’t get me wrong, this is simply my story. I’m not here to preach about not eating animals.

And then I ask myself, why not? I don’t know the answer and it really bothers me. I’m passionate about my politics when it comes to people. Shit, I’m proud of my politics. Why doesn’t that passion for humanity extend to animals? I mean if someone tried to hurt my dog, I’d… Well, let’s just say I’d react badly.

So why am I hedging with this? Because I know I am. This wishy washy stance makes me feel icky. It makes me feel that my politics are self-involved. This in turn makes me feel shitty. It’s important to speak for people who can’t speak for themselves, right?

I watched Vegucated. Here’s the premise this documentary:

  • A filmmaker finds three regular New Yorkers of various ages and backgrounds
  • For three weeks she challenges them to lead a vegan lifestyle
  • After the three weeks they talk about how they feel
  • All three people decided to stay vegetarians. One remained vegan, the other two remained mostly vegan

I loved it!!! Vegucated was fun, honest, informative and didn’t hit you over the head with the message that you are evil if you eat meat. But it did pose some hard questions that I can’t shake.

  • If I know that it’s bad for the planet to eat meat, why am I?
  • If I know that there are affordable ways to live a vegan lifestyle, why haven’t I done the research to give it a shot?
  • If I know the conditions of slaughterhouses, why am I continuing to buy industrial farmed meat?
  • If I know that the labels ‘organic’ and ‘cage-free’ don’t equal humane, why do I still eat eggs?

So I’m not going to for three weeks. But I’m going to do homework, read and make an effort to add to my diet instead of thinking of it as an exercise in subtraction. Why am I not committing to a vegan lifestyle whole hog? Fear of failure, maybe? Maybe I’m just chicken.

I know that I have to leap over the fence. If I believe that everything is everything, there really isn’t another choice.

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