Some people become vegan because they watch those horrifying videos of animals being sliced and diced to death. Other people do it for health reasons. Other people marry vegans.
I really rather hesitate to use the term “vegan” for myself, so perhaps I should clarify something right off the bat. When I do call myself “vegan”, it’s according to the Adventist definition of the word, not the ethical/activist definition. It just means I avoid meat, dairy, and eggs, or in perhaps more accurate terms, it’s a plant-based diet. I have no issues with eating honey or wearing leather shoes at this point in my life. I should also clarify that I do not STRICTLY follow a plant-based diet; I do occasionally take in some dairy or eggs at other people’s houses or potlucks, or because I’m pregnant and my aversions are all across the board. But I don’t eat meat. I’ve been completely off that now for close to a year and have NO interest in going back.
So how did all this come about?
When I was going through tech school in my early twenties, I worked at a pizza place for a while. One of my coworkers was vegetarian. I would gag every time he’d make us workers a pizza because it would be “corroded with spinach”, and in turn he called my favourite pizza “Early Death”. I loved meat, and the “Early Death” was corroded with it: pepperoni, sausage, beef crumbles, and Canadian bacon, and I liked adding bacon bits on top of that. I quipped back that someone had to make up for all the meat he wasn’t eating. I didn’t like eating “leaves and green things” and frequently informed people I was a plants rights activist and therefore would rather not eat veggies.
Later on I graduated tech school and moved out on my own for the first time. At that time I decided I was going to stop eating the animals that were Biblically declared unclean, but that still left plenty of options open, and I still loved my meat. Large, luscious cheeseburgers. Fish. Oh yummy. Fish and chips. Fried chicken from Applebees. That chicken sandwich from Arby’s. Omnomnom. Arby’s was tantalisingly close to my job, too.
When I met my husband, I was dismayed to find out he was vegan. Was he going to expect me to be one too? Me, the meat-lover extraordinaire? I have many memories of our early dating days that revolve around food. I wanted to make food he’d enjoy, but his ideas about making food were alien to mine. Not only was I a meat girl, I was a recipe girl. While he would just pull stuff out of the fridge and throw it in a pan and make deliciousness, I would be faced by all these veggies and not know what to do with them except make a salad or something.
Time went by and, me being the impressionable sort, his ways began to rub off on me. He managed to squick me out so much by referring to the “lumps of dead animal flesh” in my freezer that my luscious hamburgers would go untouched for weeks until I stopped gagging at his terminology, and I learned to season food by smelling the seasonings, and I could make spaghetti sauce and stir fry that met his approval.
And time went by and I discovered that actually going without meat wasn’t as hard as I thought, although I still jumped at any opportunity to wolf down a bird or a fish or even a buffalo burger if given half a chance.
But it wasn’t until we’d been married about two years that I became fully convinced in my own mind that I would have better health without consumption of animal flesh and decided I was done eating dead animals.
It is true that you learn to like what you eat – or, at the very least, tolerate it. I’m still not in love with spinach, for instance, but I eat it because it’s there, and in the proper context it can be quite palatable. (I still decline to corrode my pizzas with it, though.) The endless array of what you can do with plant-based foods is a dazzling, exciting world, and meat seems so boring in comparison now.
If you’re vegetarian or vegan, what’s your story? What prompted you? How is it going for you? Have you felt positive health impacts from your choice?
[Just a note: I’m going to be doing a food post every second Wednesday now instead of weekly. I may be beginning to fill in the alternate weeks with new topics, or I may just leave them blank. Getting ready for baby in a few months and so I’m wanting to not spend quite as much time on the blog! If I do pursue alternate topics, is there anything YOU would especially be interested in?]