Monday, November 1, 2010
It's November 1st, which means it's officially VEGAN MOFO TIME! I thought a nice way to get this party started would be to share my vegan story. Every vegetarian and vegan has a story of how they came to live a cruelty-free life.
My story starts in late 1994. I am freshly 10 years old and at the dinner table with several family members. A chunk of steak is placed on my plate and as I pick up my knife and fork, a family member shatters my world by saying: You know that's a cow, right? I eye this family member skeptically, and ask, "What do you mean?" This person goes on and on about how that brown piece of meat on my plate is actually a piece of a murdered cow, that I'm a "cow-killer," and some other descriptive details of blood and veins. Despite all of this information, the speaker was eating meat themselves, but I guess that's beside the point. I had never made this connection before: meat comes from animals? Why didn't anyone tell me?! I did not eat the steak that night. I was in a state of shock and told my mother that I couldn't eat meat anymore. Somehow she convinced me that chicken was okay. (You know how mothers are.)
Almost exactly 1 year later, now freshly 11 years old and living in Florida, I clearly remember the day that changed it all. I rounded the corner into the kitchen, where my mother was preparing dinner. I heard some strange, disturbing sawing sounds and my world was shook once again when I realized what the sounds were: my mother cutting up a chicken. The grinding, sawing sounds were of the knife scraping up against the bone. Do you remember that part of The Tell-Tale Heart where the guy can only hear the dead man's heartbeat through the floor boards, louder and louder and louder? The knife scraping the chicken bones was the heartbeat for me. This is over dramatic, but mind you, I was only 11 years old: I dropped to my knees and sobbed, swearing off ALL meat products for the rest of my life. My mom did not argue and she tried to comfort me. Later, she would ask if I was sure that I didn't want to eat even chicken. Oh, I was sure. I have not eaten meat since that day.
My journey to veganism isn't quite as dramatic. In my later high school years, I started to read about a lot of vegan issues, starting with the dairy industry. Reading about pus in milk and poor living conditions for dairy cows made milk products much less enticing for me. I immediately switched to soy milk and grew to like it quite a bit, much more than regular milk, which I was never a huge fan of to begin with. I was not a fan of eating eggs, either, so that was easy to quit. I started eating pizza with no cheese (a concept I had never heard of until my super-cool, world-traveled uncle told me that yes, you CAN order a pizza without cheese!) and leaving cheese out of other foods, too. Since I went vegan, I can't even begin to estimate how many people told me that they could never be vegan because they're "addicted to cheese." Cheese was one of the easiest foods for me to give up. The hardest? Ice cream. It was a comfort food, especially since, for awhile, I would often have hot fudge sundae dates with two of my good friends at the time. But it ended up being a hot fudge sundae that did me in and finally pushed me to The Vegan Side.
After a few months of being almost entirely dairy-free, I went out for a hot fudge sundae with a friend one night. About half way through, my stomach started to churn. I had overdosed my body with lactose (and probably pus, barf) and my system couldn't take the shock after being without dairy for so long. I ended up leaving our little get together early, racing home, and was sick for the remainder of the night. That experience, that feeling, was the turning point for me. I count February 2004 as my vegan-versary because it was the first Valentine's Day that I did not eat Hershey's chocolate. That pretty much sealed the vegan deal for me right there.
Now, my first year of veganism was not a healthy one, but I'll save that story for another time. Let's just say that, since 2004, I've learned a LOT about cooking and eating.
As far as Vegan MoFo will work for me, I wish I was as organized as some of the bloggers out there, doing a theme for the whole month, each week, or for some, each day! My entries may take on a theme from time to time, but I'm not quite planning it out that way. I'm just going to go wild and carefree with vegan food. What better way to be?
What is your vegan story?
PS. There's one day left to enter the CSN gift code giveaway! Chances of winning are high right now. The winner will be randomly drawn at noon (central time) tomorrow.