Friday, 28 February 2014

I'm going on an adventure!

A lentil-y sort of adventure anyway... I have decided to become vegan. It's been on my mind for a while since my mum became vegan last year, and this week I decided to take the plunge and just go for it. I was vegetarian for many years before getting pregnant with my eldest son (whereupon a violent aversion to cheese led me to start eating chicken and then gradually pretty much anything!) so I'm not a complete novice at avoiding particular food. 

Why vegan and not just vegetarian again then? That's the question I've been going over for some time. I spend a lot of time writing about, ranting about and worrying about human rights and the plethora of infringements we witness on a global daily basis. It struck me as just plain bizarre that I don't worry about animal welfare in the same outspoken way. It's not that I don't care; I do. It just hasn't gotten me as worked up as the stuff I've written about people. And I cannot, for the life of me, explain why. The more I pondered this, the more I realised that I've suppressed my feelings on the meat, poultry and dairy industry because, selfishly, I really like the way it all tastes. 

Unlike many vegans I've met, this is not a spiritual matter for me. I do not have an ideological problem with eating meat. Having studied human evolution, I am satisfied that our bodies are intended for the digestion of meat and that we are supposed - biologically speaking - to be omnivorous, as many animals are. I have always maintained that I would only eat meat if I knew that I would be prepared to kill an animal myself. It seems immensely disrespectful otherwise to say "Well I'll eat this piece of flesh, but only if I can distance myself from the fact that it once belonged to a living, breathing creature". No, you have to accept where your food comes from and take ownership of what you're eating. 

For the past decade, that way of thinking has enabled me to push aside the guilt I felt through eating meat. I managed to bypass the farming and industrial element of meat production in my thought process, but now I realise that is where my issue lies.

It's no secret that the meat, poultry and dairy industries are brutal. There is a wealth of evidence to demonstrate that the animals in this process are not happy or comfortable. They are not treated with dignity, respect and compassion. While I don't have a problem with eating meat per se, I do take real issue with mistreating another living creature in the name of making meat, eggs and dairy more cheaply available to the masses. 

Why not just eat organic meat and free range eggs then? Because I don't trust them. The "free range" label on egg boxes is misleading. The hens who lay those eggs are not merrily meandering round a nice lush field, laying when they want to in nice, comfortable coops. In order to qualify for the "free range" label, it is only necessary for the hens to have access to outdoor space for a portion of the day. They may well never actually GO outside, because they're too scared or unwell. I'm not going to get graphic about this or post any of the emotive imagery or video on the matter, but if you really want to learn more, the internet has a vast array of footage. 

Living Vegan for Dummies
This is going to be a huge adjustment for me, basically because there is nothing I love more on a Sunday morning than a bacon, egg and cheese toastie. I've bought a 'Veganism for Dummies' book to ease myself into this lifestyle and already identified many recipes that my husband and I cook together which can be easily tweaked and made vegan-friendly. Fortunately for me, he's very supportive (although he did sulk briefly when I asked him to leave the fish sauce out of the Thai curry paste he was making). 

With any luck, I'll have lots of stuff to bore you with post as I learn more. Wish me luck!

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