Monday, April 1, 2013

I've been Vegucated!

Last week I had a week off of work, the few benefits of teaching, and took the chance to visit my sister in Fayetteville, WV to party with my niece and nephew.  I should have been spending time working on my dissertation.  However, I found many ways to keep myself occupied.  I had been wanting to watch Vegucated for a couple months on Netflix so I finally took the time to do so.  I knew it was about the vegan lifestyle, but beyond that was clueless.  In a nutshell the documentary follows 3 people on a 6-week journey as they learn what it is to be a vegan and why it is a good healthy eating practice.

Throughout the video, the narrator took the opportunity to discuss how food, particularly meat is produced in our country.  I have to admit that there were some very disturbing things happening on our animal farms!  I have seen some disturbing images in the past about how animals are treated and have actually even witnessed a live pig killing in the Cook Islands for a pig roast (a little gross, but was not cruel), yet my love of meat prevailed.  Last week things were different.  I have naturally been phasing meat out of my diet anyway because a friend introduced me to Eat Right for your Blood Type, which based on my blood type, A+, I thrive on a vegetarian diet!  It took a while to experiment, but when I was eating less meat I noticed I felt a lot better.

Now, when you mix in me watching Vegucated, my blood type recommended diet and what I'd already known about the food industry, I decided that I want to pursue a vegetarian diet.  Ideally I would love to be completely vegan, but I think I'll need to move in phases to begin with.  To be a complete vegan you eat no meat, no eggs and no dairy.  True vegans also don't buy any product made from animals (for example, leather) or that were tested with animals.  The dairy and eggs will be hardest to cut out because I LOVE cheese.  They have substitutes that I will look into.  I hope they taste good.  I don't like milk so that's no issue.  I also enjoy eggs and many things that use eggs, like my Mom's famous brownies!  Those will take some time to phase out.  I have found some local farms that I can buy cheeses and eggs so if I realize I just can't cut those things out then I will at least buy local and from a farm that I know is humane.  I like knowing I can visit and see what is happening.  Plus, I would support the local community, and that's always better!

On this journey, I'm scared of a few things.  First, from the public push back. I've already received several "you're crazy" comments.  I've also received criticism about whether or not to eat vegetables that use pesticides and other chemicals.  I would love to be a clean eater, but let's be honest people, you can't go cold turkey.  You have to phase things out!!  At the moment I would rather eat chemicals than meat!  I'm also worried about being the "picky" eater that everyone has to cater to.  The the journey to vegan-ism will be an interesting one.  I realize this is my decision and my decision alone.  I pass no judgement on anyone who chooses differently and hope that people offer the same respect.  I just no longer feel good about supporting an industry that is cruel and inhumane.  I know animals are meant for our use, but I think we have seriously crossed the line. Economics has trumped ethics and that is not okay.  If more people didn't close their eyes to what was happening and started paying attention then we could make changes for the better.  I'm sure with all the brain power in our country/world we could figure out a better way to raise and treat animals and still be economical.  I realize they're animals, but still, they are creatures of God and may not have the same feeling and communication level as us, but they can feel pain!

I have been doing a lot of research because I do run long distances and a good diet is essential.  Thankfully, my running club has a few vegetarians/vegans who are willing to offer much needed advice.  One of them shared with me a fabulous resource, the No Meat Athlete, which is an ultra runner who is vegan and shares some amazing resources and recipes.  Among one of many resources on NMA's website is the link to another movie, Earthlings, which is a video about humans and animal treatment in general.  I only watched the trailer and was crying.  I don't know if I'll be able to watch the whole thing, but I will try.  I'm sure it will only strengthen my conviction.  I just can't believe how far we have come in America to treat other creatures which such abuse.  This is not a blog post to preach to you, but I wanted to share how I reached my decision.  I know this will be hard, but I think I'm up for the challenge.  It will get easier with time.  Please feel free to join me on this journey, or if not, feel free to follow me on it.

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