“Why wouldn’t you want to eat meat? Aren’t you sick all the time?” ~ good friend X
Vegan. Say it five times fast and it really sounds like either a dirty word or something out of a Will Ferrell comedy. Ayyy-bahbeee!
I decided to devote my piece today on Veganism twofold—one, I am defending the choice on a regular basis, and maybe this will clear the air a wee bit. Two, I’m hoping to bring a new perspective to the choice, for all my friends and family (and folks who don’t know me) that know for years about my eating habits.
A little history—I’m 33, have two small children and a husband who was raised in “Meat-n-Potatoville” Ohio (love it, love the people, love the festivals. I’m not judging here). We have our happy existence in the ‘burbs, and until around 2 years ago, I was pretty unconscious as to the choices of foods I put on all of our plates. Again, no judgment here on those who are—we are a busy family, and it was easy to fall into the pattern of “eating what was available and convenient.”
When I became a yoga instructor, I did so during a parallel universe period – I was also training for a marathon. So while my belief system was being challenged (my favorite learning quote during teacher training was, “May all sentient beings be free” – courtesy of legendary teacher & lifelong vegan Lizzy Hoffman), I was also researching healthier training methods. I stumbled upon the writings of Sage Rountree and Scott Jurek – Sage being a triathlete & yoga instructor, Scott being a vegan ultramarathoner. Wow—is it possible to give up meat, have a conscience, and still be a “training badass?”
So that was a little longer history than you needed. Flash forward to today—I have a PR firm, and I work primarily in the stock car/NASCAR world. I’ve been a vegetarian for over a year now. I love everyone I’m around, we’re all like a traveling family each weekend—but the eating habits leave a little to be desired. I’ve met so many team chefs who are sweet enough to make me a “special” meal (it’s almost like a challenge to them to get outside the “meat” box), as well as folks who just want to learn more about the process of decreasing meat (vegetarianism) and additionally, even dairy & eggs (veganism).
Now that I’m comfortably through the first step of being a vegetarian for a year, I’m pledging to myself to drop the dairy and eggs by this Christmas. It seems like most friends & family were supportive of the vegetarianism, but veganism seems extreme to the collective. I’m not really sure why – I love how Scott Jurek put it in a recent Men’s Journal article on vegan athletes – “Animals have been plant-based vegans for years, and they aren’t keeling over.” It seems a natural progression for me, so why is that extreme?
So when I get the “WTF would you be a vegan for, good God?!!”, for anyone who doesn’t know enough about vegan culture this is the skinny. Most of us are middle-of-the-roaders…we love life, health, family and enjoy contributing less to the global environmental troubles. I have the occasional stomachache as I see the cute Chik-Fil-A cows (“hey, we have a good life!”) or the California Cow billboards that advertise free-roaming, smiling heifers (um, you have YOUR udders squeezed repeatedly and tell me how awesome it is to graze like Ferdinand the Bull for an hour a day).
Again, I’m spreading the vegan love here – not trying to incite a meat riot. I love meat-eaters, as long as you know where your meat came from, how it was raised, and why you are consuming it responsibly (rather than overindulgence). That goes for vegans and non-vegans alike – we should ALL know where our food came from. Rise to consciousness, myself included – it’s a daily challenge.
Hey, some folks exercise like crazy. Others have a TV addiction or are fanatical about a sport. It is what it is, and if it makes you happy, go for it – as long as its not at the expense of others. When it comes to meeting a vegetarian or vegan friend, don’t treat it like they have an addiction or an anomoly. They are just like you – they’ve made a conscious decision to understand what goes in their mouth each day.
And that, my friends, is the WTF on the V words. Peace & train on!