Why, oh why, do I have the DNA of an omnivore?
If I could wave a magic wand and cast a spell over my belly, my brain, and my taste buds (my heart doesn’t need that magic, it has already been enchanted), which would forever staunch my lowly desires to eat things from animals, and of animals, I wouldn’t hesitate, not for a second.
By ear of newt and eye of toad,
By grain of wheat and ripe seed sowed,
By milk of goat and scale of fish,
I grant you your eternal wish,
Abracadabra—you are vegan!
I have never been less than forthright about my downfalls as a vegan-ish woman.
I love animals. I hate the way they are treated—as if they are things whose sole purpose is to stoke our gastronomic fires, to live and die just to sit half eaten and unknown on our plates, their suffering less than a blip in our consciousness.
The misfortune of a soul being born into the body of a cow on a factory farm rather than a beloved pet is hard to grasp.
And yet I can still taste that crumble of fine blue cheese I stole last night from my husbands salad, which glistened with layers of animal fat a mere two feet from my face, and which proved to be a temptation to great for me to refuse. The wine which accompanied that salad certainly weakened my resolve, but that is no excuse.
Does the battle against my mortal flesh, being as relentless as it is, add honor to any successes I may have?
No. Just because a thing is hard doesn’t mean the doing of it is cause for accolades—that’s like handing out medals to parents who manage to get their kids to school each day with their teeth brushed and their homework done.
But certainly, we can take pause, and if not relish, then perhaps appreciate, our accomplishments.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, being 95 percent, or even 90 percent vegan does diminish suffering, and as such, has to be a good thing. How does it help anyone to languish in feelings of guilt, rather than move forward and continue to try and do our best, accepting that we are by nature, imperfect creatures?
Nevertheless, I languish still. Trapped in this vessel that craves butter and eggs and flesh, even as it is repelled by the idea of eating such things based on the twin realities of what had to happen to put them in my mouth, and the fact that I do no physiologically need them—despite the uninformed statements of some happy meat eaters.
So I battle on, at odds with my body and my philosophy, for which compassion is the foundation.
I can already hear the reader who will suggest I am taking myself too seriously, that I should relax already and just have a chicken wing if that’s what my body is calling for.
To them I say, nice idea, but it’s never gonna happen. You can be vegan and cheat, but you can’t be vegan, cheat, and have no thoughts or emotions about it.
Being vegan means you care. It means you are thoughtful about being a steward of the earth and of your own soul, which you realize it is your most important job to grow. Once your eyes have been opened to the needless cruelty inflicted on animals to whip up a grilled cheese, that grilled cheese will never taste the same again.
So, I don’t have a magic wand, but I do have a wish, and if you wish something hard enough, sometimes it comes true. I wish that as I grow older, stronger and wiser, my ability to sit with a plate of vegetables gladly while everyone around me eats whatever they are eating, without succumbing to my own animal instincts, is like that of a vegan superhero.
I will be Vegan Woman, defender of animals and advocate of all things green.
Until then, I’ll just be me, stumbling and staggering along as I try to stay on the path.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise