The story is long, because the journey took a long time (too long)…
It started around the summer of 2006, when I was 34. Two books set the wheels in motion:
I was shopping at the thrift store and happened upon ”Nature’s Cancer Fighting Foods,” by Verne Varona. That was the first book introducing me to the idea that meat & dairy– including non-fat milk & “lean” meats– were foods to avoid.
Always being a “healthy” and “health-conscious” person, I started to drastically cut back on eating meat for the health benefits. I started making meals at home primarily vegetarian. It was easy and quite enjoyable, and I dropped a couple pounds without trying. I started experimenting with tofu and other foods. I liked it!
Regarding dairy: I was still hooked on it. Apparently I was willing to accept the health risks even though the book made an excellent case against dairy. Attachments can be strong. Toward the end of 2007 I started drinking raw (unpasteurized) milk. I was taken in completely by all the claims of the raw milk proponents. I determined that pasteurization, not drinking cow’s milk itself, was the “problem” with milk. Even so, I still ate other pasteurized dairy products.
Meanwhile…At some point I watched Morgan Spurlock’s documentary, “Supersize Me,” which lead me to check out the book, “Fast Food Nation,” by Eric Schlosser. WHOA…Bingo, this was the real beginning of my vegan journey…
Commence education in: “Where does meat come from.” Wow. The things I learned in that book shocked me…disgusted me…saddened me. I never knew about factory farms before. Wake-up call, BIG-time.
Yet, the overwhelming message I got from “Fast Food Nation” was to buy so-called “humane” meat.
Through an e-mail link from PETA, I watched the online video “Meet Your Meat.” Again, my response was horror. It’s hard to imagine, but at this stage in my journey I never considered that going vegan was the solution. Instead, my reaction was to focus on “humane” meat. The problem– so I thought– was with the “treatment.” It’s embarrassing to admit, but I was so horrified that I actually e-mailed all my friends & family and told them all to be sure and buy only “humane” meat because factory farms are so cruel.
How did going vegan not ever enter my mind? Clearly, I had a long way to go. I really wish I kept a copy of that e-mail, too!
Long before I eventually went vegan in 2008, I did check out the book, “Becoming Vegan,” by Brenda Davis & Vesanto Melina. I was curious and open, but it all still seemed so “extreme” to me. I don’t know exactly when it was, but I was sitting on the couch at home when I said out loud, “I could never be vegan.”
For the 2 year period between summer of 2006 & summer of 2008 I was in this phase of pseudo-vegetarianism with the occasional organic, grass-fed meats (and fish) and plenty of raw milk. The big problem was that nagging feeling every time I ate meat in restaurants. I was well aware that I was eating factory-farmed meat.
I was so conflicted at this time, that I clearly remember telling my husband when we were driving in the car, that maybe I could still eat eat our favorite dish– Pollo Asado– in the Mexican restaurant we went to every week, because, “Chickens are kind of ugly.”
What an AWFUL thing to say. Clearly, I was grabbing at anything I could to assuage my guilt. It had to be my lowest moment. I was eating so little meat in restaurants by this point, but my weekly Pollo Asado was just “too good” to imagine giving up…Sigh…
So what finally pushed me over the edge? When I had NO intention whatsoever of ever going vegan?
The very same weekend in mid-July 2008 that I was telling my mom how “great” raw milk was, I was showing my mom how to download a podcast. I randomly picked the “health” category on iTunes, and I “randomly” picked the “Vegetarian Food For Thought” podcast, by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. There was an episode on greens that sounded interesting because I had just bought a VitaMix blender and I was starting to make green smoothies.
As they say, the rest is history. Starting July 14th, for 2 weeks non-stop I listened to all the episodes. It was a very stressful 2 weeks. I was drawn to the episodes, one after another, and yet I had that sinking feeling. I knew I was going down a road of no return. I was going to have to make a significant, permanent life change.
I could no longer pretend I didn’t know. I could no longer exploit animals, however nicely it was done. I had to come to terms with the fact that those dairy cows on the pretty pasture producing raw milk “for me” were being unfairly exploited. I had to realize that those cows were just being used to produce a product that was NOT meant for me.
When I fully accepted that “treatment” is not the issue, but using animals for our gain IS the issue, I knew I had to go vegan. It was not a choice anymore. It was a duty. A moral obligation. I was afraid of how my husband and family would react, but that didn’t matter anymore. I could no longer wait until everyone around me changed, because if I did that it would never happen. I had to be the one to do what I knew was right, no matter what. It scared the hell out of me, but i did it.
The last thing I said out loud, and with a firmness that impressed me was, “I’m done.” August 2008.
The difficult part was the deciding. That was the process of letting go. What made it more difficult for me was resisting what I knew had to be done. I was fighting it instead of surrendering to the process. I did know when I listened to that first podcast on July 14th that I needed to go vegan (and probably a lot sooner than that), but instead I held on to every attachment and every excuse until something in me finally clicked.
Little did I know the great RELIEF that would flood over me when I finally gave in to the decision. I felt a magnificent feeling of peace envelope me. I had finally freed my own mind. Don’t get me wrong- I still had some lingering anxieties floating around because I was entering a whole new unfamiliar world. Yet, compared to the inner moral conflicts I was dealing with, those minor worries were nothing.
Bottom line…I wish I went vegan a whole lot sooner. If I knew then what I know now– in my heart, my mind and my body– I would have seen that I really had NO reason whatsoever to wait. It’s sad to think that, in fighting the process, I was only postponing all of the great blessings that I would ultimately receive. What I have “received” in going vegan is 1000 times better than the few things that I “gave up.”
I only want for others to experience this epiphany!