something didn't quite add up.i was reading about the world's inefficiencies in meat production, and general country to country trade (specifically the trade that leaves canada in the dust when it comes to the price of meat), and then i was consuming the same meat that presumably had been shipped from japan or britain.
and i felt like a hypocrite.
so i changed - one day, i announced that i would be vegan. there was no transition (mostly because i knew if i didn't cut cold turkey, i'd never ever give up cheese). no prep period. i decided that march 1st felt like a good day for a life change.
(via)of course there were my own rules. i ate cow from family farms (literally - my own aunt's and uncle's kept me deep in beef for 6 years... and bless them for it) where i knew how it had been raised, knew the people raising it, knew what it was eating, and what it's life looked like. i ate eggs from a farm i visited in toronto for the same reasons. essentially, the food i ate was food that i was confident was being raised in a responsible, and respectful manner. not organic - that's a whole other discussion - but instead meat and protein that had been raised the way animals were raised in a day where people existed off of 2 meals of meat a week. i was eating meat only when i had visited a farm and truly felt like the owners and operators of that farm were honouring the farming they were doing, and respecting the animals they were farming. when they were keeping their animals healthy for the sake of the animal, and not for the sake of the profit. when they were steering clear of horomones, and feeding their animals food... not chemicals.
throughout those 6.5 years, i described myself as vegan - it was the easiest way to explain to people without a long winded conversation, that i was a selective eater. very selective. and in scenarios (like work/sales settings) where a conversation was perhaps not appropriate, vegan was simply the easiest term to describe how i ate when at a chain restaurant. was i purely vegan? not in the strictest terms - i did eat meat. about once a quarter. did i want to order a meat dish at a chain restaurant where it had presumably come from a factory farm in who know's where's-ville? not in the least. so 'vegan' it was. but that's where things got sticky.
fast forward through 6 years of mostly vegan, and trying to explain myself to every single person alive. 6 years of people defensively acting as though what i'm doing is blasphemy, and an insult towards their way of life. 6 years of defending myself against people who - for some reason - took my eating/lifestyle choices as a direct attack on their own, and therefore a perfect opportunity to pick apart everything i was doing wrong as a 'vegan'.
it was getting to the point where i was doing more justifying than conversing about my eating choices.
i then experienced a run of health issues that people thought of as a perfect opportunity to break down my eating. i was told to introduce natural calcium back into my diet, and cut out gluten. talk about criticism HEYDAY.
then. i spent 10 days in a car, to move across the country.
i had been doing pretty well with my diet, despite long work hours and high levels of stress. then, i was thrown into a car for 10 days, with little else vegan to eat than subway sandwiches. SUBWAY. bread. galore.
needless to say, i was a miserable mess for those 10 days. and i couldn't help but think - in my quest to save the planet, and the political environment of the meat industry, i was eating commercialized bread and veggies? something didn't add up.
(via)i'd been thinking about making the switch back to 'non-vegan' for a few months, and the trip solidified something for me - i was continuing with an activity, a lifestyle, a motion, just for the sake of a label. and for the people who held me strictly to the label.
i spent some time truly reflecting on the previous 6 years, and what it would mean to retract the label people had been using to describe me for that time. would i still eat consciously, and make every effort to eat clean, with strong ties to the community i was living in - be it locally in season foods, or nearby farmers honouring the farming tradition? absolutely. would i eat meat daily, and fall back into old habits of consuming meat without thought as to its origins, or it's pathway to my dinner table? absolutely not. would i feel better about conscious choices, and reinforcing to vendors, restaurants, and friends that sustainable meat, less often, was a much better way to go about things... than the way north american culture consumes meat now?
conversely, would i have to spend my time defending myself to those who attacked, as soon as they heard the term 'vegan', or could i instead spend that time discussing food, and it's origins with those same people who were less defensive when it was clear i wasn't attacking them with my lifestyle choices. it became sort of a no-brainer.
to be clear, those who have the time, and finances for a TRULY strong, and meaningful vegan lifestyle (i.e. ellen degeneres) are high up on a pedestal to me. it is strongly proven through research that a vegan diet is not only one of the most healthy lifestyles to live, but it is also indisputably the most environmentally friendly - if people are paying attention to where their plant based foods are coming from. however, in the time of working hard hours on hours of the day, and not having the means for a personal chef, i think we've all been tempted by a veggie dog (or 108745) as vegs. is a veggie hot dog a more sustainable option than a chicken breast from a local, sustainable farm? probably not. hence, the dilemma.
that is all to say, i'm no longer vegan. do i still buy vegan margarine? absolutely. does my diet still heavily consist of homemade hummus, rice cakes, and veggies? 100%. do i still prefer almond yogurt to regular? no question (well... i'm also biased as i'm still lactose intolerant, but that's another story).
at the end of the day, all it means is that you'll see meat on my plate every now and again, and i'll have the option to choose sustainable chicken in a grocery store, over a veggie sub on my next roadtrip.
oh, the possibilities are endless.
(also - i may pretend i'm still vegan next time i visit my aunt... she makes a KILLER tofu pot pie).