Sunday, October 22, 2006

 

Why are you Vegan?

Hello everyone! I (as you can see below on my questionnaire - I'm Sarah L.) am mostly vegetarian - mainly because my husband lost more than 100 lbs eleven years ago now and animal fat is a great thing to cut out of our diets... Also, I think I feel better when I don't eat beef. Turkey and chicken are something else - I hate raw chicken. It's that odd color and I'm always paranoid about salmonella. I always used to burn myself on the hot water while washing dishes that had touched raw chicken! My husband cooks, so it's really up to him. And he thinks birds are nasty creatures and we shouldn't eat them (or their products - he hates eggs). I really enjoy hard cheeses - especially with a glass of wine (sorry!). Seafood does not get made often in my house because it makes the house smell like, well, dead fish. So why mostly vegetarian? Well, my family doesn't really accept my healthful diet, let alone a vegetarian one! So family events and eating out with them have been difficult. Did you know that Chile's restaurants have NO vegetarian options (besides perhaps the side garden salad and probably the alcoholic drinks). And my family also enjoys Wendy's, McDonald's, Taco Bell, and pepperoni pizza.

I loved reading everyone's responses to the questionnaire - and I've checked out many of your blogs already (yep, stalking you all!)... but I'm curious about why those of you who are vegan have chosen that lifestyle. There are many reasons to be vegan - what are yours? Or, why do you eat meat for those who do?

Comments:
What a wonderful question. My path to veganism was.. wavy. Yeah. I went vegetarian in 1998 because someone told me I should (he was one of those glowing people who make everything seem okay) and I wanted to see if I could. I did, for 15 months, but when I moved back home I went back to eating meat.

In late 2003, I quit dairy to help with my allergies/sinus issues and it helped a lot. I also cut out meat except fish. Then I went back to eating dairy. I moved back home (again) to heal about my motorcycle accident and met up with friends from high school, vegetarian friends. One friend and I had a convo one night over a basket of bottomless french fries; I don't remember what we said, but I had decided to go veg again.

I did the Master Cleanse for 11 days (google it) to help transition to being vegetarian and during that time my veg friends gave me some flyers and sent me videos of the way the animals are treated in factory farming. I read all I could and was appalled and even cried. I had understood there was death, there will always be death, but the suffering and the torture -- I had no idea. I came out of it vegan and haven't looked back.

This is the part where I get mad at some vegetarians. I knew a lot when I was veg the first time. I asked them for recipes and advice, and they knew I wasn't veg for any good reason yet no one _gave_ me a reason. No one opened my eyes to the way things are, (not until 2004) and it saddens me and pisses me off. I'm not saying we should all stand on the street corner yelling "Meat is murder" (though I do that sometimes), but if people are interested and inquisitive, give them information!
*steps down from soapbox*
 
My path was also wavy!

I'm allergic to eggs and milk (of any kind except human!) and so for most of my childhood, I was almost-vegan (we ate poultry or fish a few times a month). In teenagehood, I was vegetarian (I had sort of outgrown the allergies) for most of those years, eating meat again near the end when living with a boyfriend who did. After we broke up, I became a flexitarian, eating vegetarian/vegan at home, but eating poultry or fish if it was prepared at someone's home.

When I met my husband, he was a pescatarian. A few months after we moved in together, we both went vegan together. It's now been over 6 years.

Why are we vegan? We love animals and think it's wrong to hurt or kill them for our tastebuds, since you can be healthy without them or their products. We are also concerned about the environmental impact of the meat/dairy/egg industries. And we like the health benefits of no cholesterol, low saturated fat, etc.
 
This is Sarah H. Blogger hates me! Sorry to have to post this way.

When I was 9, my mother made me a sandwich, it was bread, mayo and a slice of ham. I took a bite and for whatever reasons it all came to me, wow, this was once a living animal, and now its dead so I can have a SANDWICH. Even at 9, this was absurd to me. So while I didn't yet grasp reading labels, or about hidden meat, I was more or less a vegetarian. My parents were not thrilled, especially my father who seemed quite angry.

I had no support at home, no vegetarian friends, and I was in Kansas which is beef, beef, beef. I never looked back though, and I never had a fuzzy line. The only way I consumed meat is if I truly didn't understand it was there (like I didn't get jello wasn't vegetarian).

When I was 17, my then boyfriend asked me how I could still eat eggs. I felt stupid because I never thought about it before. I quit that day, and thank him for waking me up. A bit after that I thought about how close to veganism I was, and while I LOVED cheese, I decided it was time. I didn't know about factory farming, I just thought (and still think) it isn't right to drink another species milk. I mean, think about it. It is a pretty disgusting concept.

So my reasons aren't about my health. They are split between pure repulsion of eating flesh, or anything that comes from a dead animal or insect, and just rage that as humans now, we could live without killing. Eating meat is imo ridiculous. Unnecessary. Vile. Cruel. Heartless.
 
hi, this is sarah p. i just wanted to let you know that chiles has a delicious black bean burger..not sure where you are, but i have had them in tn, las vegas and cali. they are really good. maybe they have them there? the ones i have seen on the menu can be substituted for any patty on any burger. you should request them to add it to the menu. :)
 
I usually say I'm vegetarian with strong vegan tendencies. I was vegan for three years. It was super easy in Los Angeles with a supportive boyfriend who went along with me. When I moved to Austin and moved in with a non-veg who was less supportive I went back to eating eggs and cheese. Also at that time the majority of my vegan friends (including my brother) returned to vegetarianism, so my main support structure was gone. Since moving out and breaking up I've gone back to basically only buying vegan groceries, but still occasionally eating dairy out and not being a very meticulous label reader for those smaller hidden ingredients. After getting sick from eating greasy cheesy food for the third or fourth time I am taking my current (very supportive) boyfriend's advice and giving up cheese for real. It wouldn’t be fair to call myself vegan though, since we still eat fake chicken grillers from Morning Star and Quorn (which contain egg whites) and since Shawn would just as happily eat real chicken, I’m not ready to refuse to eat our fake chicken. We did however just get a fabulous tofu cookbook that we’ve already made two things from that Shawn declared the best ever.

So reasonings. I originally went vegetarian in undergrad (maybe around ’98) just because my friends did. I went vegan after my brother did (maybe around ’01) after discussing his reasons with him. The environmental impact was my biggest reason. Social reasons brought me back to vegetarianism and health reasons are taking me back closer to veganism. I definitely feel better in a variety of ways when I’m more mindful of what I’m eating. I also have a very supportive family. Dad jokes, but it’s all in fun and Mom will cook as many meals as there are varied diets at the table.
 
Hi all, Just a note about Chili's... I don't think the Black Bean Burger is vegan. I checked their site and found the Allergy info sheet, here:
http://www.brinker.com/gr/allergens/Chilis%20Allergen.PDF

The Black Bean burger is listed as okay for peanut allergies, but not okay for egg or dairy allergies.
Sorry. =(
 
No, I might've been ok with it (the black bean burger) though - but I'd wanted soup and salad. I got salad (which was terrible, to be honest), and tortilla soup that the girl failed to mention had chicken in it! Which I didn't notice til I'd almost finished (and that tells you how little was in there anyhow). I think I had had a burger (the real beef kind) the day before and felt awful all day - so I forgot to look in the burger section for veggie stuff. Huh. That probably would've been better. ;)
 
When I was 15, I almost was hit with a huge side of beef, about half the size of a cow, coming out of a truck in chinatown, san francisco. This started me on the vegetarian path, and I was vegetarian for a while before I became vegan. I wanted to be vegan for a long time but didn't know if I could do it. It seemed hard. And I thought I'd miss cheese too much. Seriously, it was one of my first words (it's even written in my baby book -- "chee"). But once I met other vegans (my friend James and then friend (but now very long-time love, Aaron), I realized I could and that it was easy and fun. Over 9 years later, I still feel this way. I always make sure I'm in situations in which I can eat, and if I'm not, I try to plan accordingly so that I won't starve or feel bad. I hate looking around and feeling hungry.

I can't imagine what it's like to live in a place that's not very vegan or very supportive. For the last seven years, I've lived in very vegan friendly cities, and now I'm in (according to PETA) the top one! Add this to the fact that my partner is vegan, and I know that I'm very lucky cause it makes it a lot easier.

Anyway, reasons: I don't eat meat because I don't think animals exist for me to eat them. If it's possible for me to live a healthy and happy life without causing unneccessary suffering, then I will.

There's too many bad practices and suffering involved in the dairy industry to justify eating dairy, for me. I'm a very strong believer in whatever anyone is willing and capable to do, they should do -- every little bit counts. So while I don't desire to judge a vegetarian who still eats dairy, for me, my reasons for not eating dairy are the same for why I don't eat meat. Many of the animals from the dairy industry are sent to slaughter, too. Actually, someone more active in AR should say more about this.

Anyway, I think cheese (and the idea of cheese) is very comforting to so many people that it's hard to give up. We have so many emotional attachments to our food. With time, you develop new attachments and crave those foods instead (avocadoes! tahini sauce! vegan lasagne!) I can't imagine anyone who loved cheese more than I did. When I was a kid, I'd sit in front of the tv watching court tv slicing cheese off the block. I'd then have to hid how much cheese I ate from my mom!
 
I don't know, Michelle. I was a cheese-addict too. When I was very, very young, my mom would offer me a piece of candy or a piece of cheese and I'd take the cheese. Now, you must under stand I was given Tang in my baby bottle and am thus also a sugar addict. So the choice speaks volumes.
 
I went vegetarian in 1998 after watching my mom gut a whole chicken, and seeing its intestines made me realize that that being had a use for eating, she had likes and dislikes, she got hungry and full. She had the capacity to be sad and happy, and had consciousness just like me. I had no idea about slaughterhouse practices, but I decided that merely killing an animal to consume its flesh was wrong when we didn't need to.

About two years later I started making steps toward veganism, and was, oh, about 80 or 90% vegan. For a long time I felt really guilty about this, although I realize now that it was awesome of me to at least do something though I didn't feel I could make the total commitment. I wish more people would get over their dualistic ways of thinking, and cut out at least some of their foods, because some is better than nothing.

I was vegan for a while, but got really into anarchism and other critiques of capitalism. Now I'm interested in noncapitalist ways of meeting my needs for life, food being a big one, and the veganness of an item is somewhat secondary. It's still important, and I'd say I'm pretty close to vegan in practice, but the veganness of an item is not the sole criterion I have for "ethical" food.
 
Some is better than none. I like that, Michelle. I've felt that it isn't good to kill animals (although, this is nature it isn't natural to raise and kill them, that's all human); agriculture doesn't do much for our environment either. Terrible for the land - especially anything beyond subsistence agriculture. So, why should I cut out animal products when the agricultural practices bringing me my veggies are just as bad for the environment (and perhaps the workers of the land, too)? I get overwhelmed thinking about it all.
 
I have an "every little bit" theory. Every bit helps. When I'm doing outreach and people say they could _never_ give up (insert food here), I say okay! Give up something else; if you can't get over cheese, give up eggs. If you can't get over meat, give up driving. The amount of pollution each year produced by driving a car is roughly equal to the amount of pollution NOT produced if you're vegetarian (vegans contribute even less).

Every bit does something. If we all move toward being more caring and understanding about how our everyday choices change the world, perhaps we will all evolve together. (Not sure the earth has time for gradual changes, but I can't not try.)

Michelle C -- I read what you said about the dairy industry and wanted to mention this: When I was at the "Animal Rights 2006" conference this August, hosted by F.A.R.M., most of the presenters took the stance that eggs are the worst food when it comes to total amount of suffering. They kept saying eggs and dairy are the first thing you should give up, not the last. I didn't get that when I was a vegetarian, but it totally makes sense now.
 
What about if you raised your own chickens? How bad would it be to eat eggs from your own chickens? Several people I know own chickens and end up with so many eggs a week they can't even figure out what to do with them.
 
I know some people that are vegan except for the eggs from their own chickens. Now, if you're treating your chickens well, I'm not opposed to eating you eating their eggs. Personally, I wouldn't do it.

The thing that gets me is that's how it all started. People used to raise animals and treat them well while they lived, and then eat the eggs or kill the animal for food. Sometime last century, it all went corporate and that's when the mass-suffering started.
 
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