Monday, August 6, 2018

It's My Veganniversary! (let's be depressed)

People, the time has arrived. Today is officially my one-year veganniversary. Do you remember that night when I watched that video and I was udderly (pun) traumatized by the dairy industry? Remember how I flipped shit and had a mass panic and threw out all of my non-vegan food and then had no food left and didn't know what to do with myself?

Yeah. That was a year ago.

It seems waaaaay longer than that, but I'm here to tell you I'm still vegan, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

In honor of this first anniversary, I want to have a little bit of a vegan heart-to-heart. We're going to talk about how life has been as a vegan--believe me, there have been a lot of ups and downs. Later this week, I'm going to make up for this giant mess of crazy I'm about to unleash by posting actual food and maybe even some Oreos, but today is going to be an angry rant where I unload the truth about how I feel about being vegan, because that's the kind of reflecting that we do on milestones. If you're not on board with that, that's fine; come back when we have food.

For those of you who are ready to get real, here we go.

This has been a really hard year. Really really hard. Maybe in hindsight, it won't seem this bad, but right now, I'm not really sure how I'm getting by. Let's recap:

This was my baby brother's first year of public school (6th grade), and I have been deeply concerned for his wellbeing ever since, especially given all the school shootings. In December, my grandfather died. Also in December, my roommate's mom had a stroke, and after a couple of rough months, she died. I lost my jobs semi-voluntarily after a lot of shit hit the fan. My professional reputation is all but ruined. My roommate and I had a falling out over veganism and politics. I lost touch with most of my friends. I disowned my sister because she gave false testimony against someone in court. I haven't had a free weekend all year because I'm trying to keep my 4.0 in school. And finally, my car is falling apart and I don't have the money to fix it. So now that you're caught up on all that shit, let's talk about how veganism has been involved.

There have been a lot of great things about being vegan. I really do feel relieved to not be contributing to animal suffering. It's a huge weight off my shoulders, and on some days, the only thing that gets me through is knowing that I didn't support animal exploitation.

Being vegan has also pushed me to eat a larger variety of foods. While I do fall into ruts where I eat the same thing for five days straight because I'm busy, I'm much more open to trying new things and discovering new recipes. I've also been exploring more restaurants, which hasn't been great for my wallet, but has been a cool experience since it wasn't something I ever really did before.

Veganism has pushed me to become more "green." I'm trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle these days. I'm slowly swapping out my disposables for reusables. I'm trying to avoid unnecessary waste.

Becoming vegan also flipped some kind of switch in my brain and I feel like somebody ripped the veil off the world and I'm seeing it for the teeming hellhole that it is. I've become hyper-aware of privilege in society. I finally see the rampant sexism, racism, and general bigotry that rules the world. This is completely, utterly depressing, but I would rather know the truth and make educated decisions than continue to be clueless and contribute to something I believe is wrong.

And that leads us to all of the reasons why being vegan is kind of crappy.

First of all, withdrawals are real. No shit. That first few weeks, my body was freaking out because I wasn't eating dairy. Combine that with the uncertainty of not knowing what I was going to eat or what I liked, and I was a giant ball of hangry, all the time.

Once I got through the withdrawals and relearned how to eat, I had to face my next obstacle: stupid people. I learned quickly (read: immediately) that I can no longer eat near people without it becoming an interrogation. I also can't talk about food, which bums me out because I love talking about food. Here's the problem: even though I politely nod when people talk about how much they love their triple bacon cheeseburger pizza dipped in ranch, as soon as I say anything about what I eat, I get faced with questions like "can you eat pizza?" or "why don't you eat eggs?" or "but you still eat fish, right?"

I'm also faced with the predicament of how to answer the question "why are you vegan?" Because there are several answers. The real answer is "because I think it's horribly unethical to abuse and murder another creature because it's convenient for you." The snarky answer is "because I'm not an asshole." The socially acceptable answer is "it's just a personal preference," but that either welcomes other questions or leaves people thinking that there isn't actually a reason and I'm just immature or high maintenance or whatever.

Since going vegan, I've been questioned about whether I would eat a chicken that walked up to me and begged me to eat it. I've been told I'm damaging my health by not eating local honey and then questioned about why I won't raise my own bees for honey. I've had fights with people about supply and demand because some idiot was like "but if I don't eat the dead animals in the grocery store, they'll just get thrown away and that would be wasteful, so I have to keep eating it as long as they sell it" and I was like "NO. Just. Fucking. No." I've had soooo many people tell me they used to be vegan, or they could never be vegan, or they know somebody who was vegan until they realized they got a special kind of pneumonia caused by kale and had to go back to eating pork. It's infuriating. I even had somebody tell me PETA is the worst organization in the world because they kill more animals than the meat industry and I swear to god, I think my brain fizzled.

Veganism has not made me more patient. I don't know what the deal is with all those freakishly calm yoga-and-incense vegans, but I am not one of them. I am pissed off at the entire world. About everything. Although to be fair, I was pretty pissy before, so it's not such a big leap.

I think the thing people don't realize about veganism is that I extend far more respect to non-vegans than non-vegans extend to me (let alone the amount of respect that they extend to the animals they choose to eat, but that's beside the point). While I will sit next to someone who's eating a meatball sub and keep my mouth shut, as soon as I show up with tempeh, it's like the Spanish inquisition. What is that? What is it made out of? Isn't that gross? Why don't you just eat meat?

Now, if people genuinely wanted to know, I'd be fine with it. I had never met a vegan before I became one, so I didn't have the chance to ask somebody about their supplements or what kind of plant milk they preferred or how to cook tofu and have it not taste like rubber. I still haven't gotten the chance to talk to a vegan about animal fibers and whether you can have ethically-sourced wool yarn. I get having questions and wanting to learn more about people who are different. But these people aren't asking me because the genuinely want to know, they're asking me because somehow they think their idiotic "mmm bacon" argument is going to get me to see the error of my ways and start eating pepperoni again.

And that's just rude.

I don't go around telling people their religion is wrong. I don't tell people yellow isn't their color. I don't hound them about why they drive Fords instead of Toyotas. It's none of my business.

But apparently what I choose not to eat is everybody else's business, and that sucks.

Also. Real talk. It's getting really hard for me to accept other people's lifestyles. Yes, I keep my mouth shut most of the time. I'm not one of those militant vegans who pickets the dairy aisle in Target and tells people meat is murder. But in my head, my heart breaks every time I watch someone eat a dead animal. When people add cheese to things I'm eating without cheese, I just sit there and think, "Dude, could you not?"

The worst part has been trying to cohabitate with my roommate. His favorite argument is "I like food that tastes good." Believe me, I have yelled and cried and let my heart break over and over and over because I know that my food tastes good and he's just too closed minded and set in his ways to give it a shot, but somehow it doesn't matter that I extended kindness by making him dinner; he returns the favor by insulting my lifestyle, questioning my judgement, and perpetuating violence under my own roof. That hurts me in ways that I can't even explain.

So, is going vegan easy? No.

Is living vegan easy? No.

Do I regret going vegan? Not even a little bit.

I just wish the world were a better place to live.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Katie!

    I first of all just want to say that it is very impressive and just an indication of your character that you are so willing to drastically change your lifestyle in order to be virtuous. That is very good. However, I really do think that you should perhaps reconsider Veganism. Don't you think that maybe it's a bit silly to throw out all your non-vegan food just because of some YouTuber?

    On one hand, animal industry is often not nearly as bad as those who want to demonize it (e.g. PETA, Kinder World, etc.) make it sound. There is an incredible amount of bias in those groups, and honestly, I would encourage you to tour a slaughterhouse or two sometime to get an idea of what it is really like. You might find that it really isn't so bad. Plus, you CAN buy meats and cheeses and whatnot that ARE animal welfare certified. Indeed, the commercial procedures for slaughtering and/or exploiting animals in various ways are in general really quite humane. Take a look at this wikihow guide for an idea of how commercial abattoirs are supposed to kill cattle:

    Now on the other hand, you are welcome to disagree with me but I really do think there are good reasons to think that it is ethical to kill (nota bene: killing and murder are two very different things) and exploit (nota bene: torture and subjection to suffering are also two very different things) animals. For example, animals aren't rational creatures, and they therefore aren't moral agents. So since the whole point of "rights" is to safeguard the exercise of virtue, animals cannot be coherently said to have rights. And so on. Check out David Oderberg's "Applied Ethics" for fuller discussion of this:

    Lastly, I just want to say that I am so sorry that you have been hurt or insulted from people over your Veganism. I get that you had a really tough year, and I can just imagine how that must make it worse. My ex-girlfriend became a Vegan for some of the same reasons you did, and believe me I understand how hard it can be when people persecute you just for doing what you think is right. It is a testimony to how little people care about each other, which in my view is the greatest problem the world faces today. I hope that you are doing ok, and have not been hurting too much over how people treat you. :(

    In any case, it is true that animals are God's gift to us, to use and steward for our own benefit, and to His glory. It really is alright to use them for that purpose, but it is not ok to abuse them and treat them cruelly. I just think you are a little misguided as to the morality of animal exploitation in general. I think you are a truly good person Katie, and I would really encourage you to give those resources some attention and thought. There is much more to these issues then groups like PETA would have you believe.

    I really appreciate your desire to be a good person Katie. I wish the world was a better place too, and I believe we can do our part to make it better. I just happen to think that our responsibility lies first with our fellow humans, not so much with animals. Why not look into how your food/clothing/life choices impact humans and human suffering? That is indeed a way to make the world better :)
    Please have a wonderful day,