Five years ago today I gave up eating meat. I had originally stopped eating meat on April 1st of 2008, but had some conflicting feelings about it. I had eaten a KFC chicken thigh that April 1st and broke down and cried. It was always harder to eat meat that was easy to see had been part of a living, breathing animal just a couple of days before. So I was going to be a vegetarian after that, but then I had some misgivings and wasn’t sure I wanted to go that way. After all, it seemed I’d have to think about food a whole new way, it’d be a lot of trouble, I’d have to learn to cook all over again, etc. On April 27th I bought a package of frozen Skyline Chili and put it over spaghetti. The meat in Skyline is ground up very fine, truly unrecognizable, right? So much easier for me not to have to think about that cow with the nice brown eyes and peaceful bovine personality that way. I ate a few forkfuls and then said aloud to myself, “I can’t do this,” and pitched the rest in the trash.
My daughter had been a vegetarian for some time and was used to cooking and eating that way. I looked over her cookbooks but quickly began to rely heavily on meat alternatives for convenience and on milk, eggs and cheese to fill in. This wasn’t so hard! Trouble was, I developed a dairy allergy where milk products began to give me horrible headaches, with dizziness and cold-like symptoms. I cut back on them, but didn’t want to give up dairy altogether. I’d sneak it into my diet from time to time until the headaches started again, but had no intention of giving it up permanently. And eggs! I loved omelets and my fried egg each morning, no way was I giving those up, either. I knew what happened to factory-farm cows and chickens, their terrible living conditions and what happened to them when they stopped producing enough, and to the chicks unfortunate enough to be born male, but I gave up meat and fish, wasn’t that enough? I pushed those thoughts out of my mind.
Meantime, my daughter had become vegan, and was cooking lots of new, interesting dishes. I stubbornly clung to my eggs and ate as much dairy as I could tolerate. “You know you’d feel better if you gave up the dairy,” she’d hint from time to time, and when I finally did totally in recent months, it was a real relief. But what about eggs? I kept fixing an egg every day and kept thinking about my supporting the egg industry, about the male chicks, about the living conditions of the hens, and kept eating, until I finally had enough. I ate my last egg ten days ago on April 17th, and began using up items containing eggs that I still had on hand. I ate my last piece of veggie bacon containing egg whites yesterday. And that’s all.
I’ve been doing more cooking lately, not relying on the prepackaged meat-alternative foods so much and have discovered the joys of using tempeh and seitan in my meals. I’ve started making vegetables the main focus on my plate rather than pasta or rice. I’ve upped my fruit intake. I started a walking program recently, as I am preparing for a 10K event this fall. My main motivation in making the dietary changes has been because of the animals, but I’m already feeling much better physically, lighter in body, and in spirit.
So, this “vegeversary” I am celebrating by finally becoming vegan. Happy Vegeversary to me!