I’ve decided to try something a little different. For people who subscribe to the typical omnivorous diet, it may be difficult to imagine what you could possibly eat for breakfast if not scrambled eggs or yogurt, and what you could possibly eat for dinner if not salmon or chicken breast. I totally understand. I still don’t really know what’s appropriate to eat, ever.
I want to document what I eat each day so I can illuminate the mystery and provide you with some ideas. Also, I eat really terribly and hopefully by publicly sharing my habits I can shame myself into doing better. I truly love being vegan and I can confidently say I will never again bring animals or their byproducts back into my diet. I don’t feel deprived. I don’t miss anything. And I truly believe adopting a vegan diet (or at least one not centred around meat) is the way to a sustainable future.
I’ve been asked/told so many things about being vegan that I want to openly share what it’s actually like and how much work/preparation is involved (spoiler: not much). To those who say, “I love food too much to ever eat vegan,” I say I am freaking obsessed with food too. To those who have asked me, incredulous, “But what do you eat?” I will show you everything. To those who say, “I could never give up cheese,” I say then eat cheese!
But before I do all this, I want to share a few things. Veganism is not a fad diet. Vegetarianism was viewed as such 30 years ago, and now it’s considered mainstream. Veganism is a step towards conscious consumerism. The reality is that the majority of people are content eating meat because they do not consciously think of the animal or its slaughter. They know, of course, but they choose not to think. If you can distance yourself from a problem, then you have to suffer none of the consequences, none of the emotional struggle that all humans, save for sociopaths, will inevitably face. If you don’t think about the impoverished garment factory worker from Bangladesh who left her only child to be reared by neighbours, so she could go work in the city for pennies an hour, just to feed herself, then you can happily purchase clothing from H&M. But that doesn’t affect you, and you need clothes, so you don’t think about it. I think about it now, so I’ve changed.
But what will not change, regardless of whether or not you choose to educate yourself on the topic, is the effect that factory farming will have on the environment, the planet, and consequently our lives.
I think many people blind themselves to the fact that we live on a planet warmed by a sun, neither of which is indestructible. We forget that North America is not the world. In fact, we comprise a mere fraction of the global population. We are among the richest, the most privileged. We think we are immune to poverty and famine and sickness. Maybe we are. But we are definitely not protected from global collapse. We will drown in a tsunami or be crushed by a mudslide or die from exposure just as the child in the Indian slum will. We all live on this planet together, and you are no more or less important than a billionaire venture capitalist or a Cambodian tuk-tuk driver.
If you are an environmentalist, you do not eat meat. You cannot, without holding simultaneously conflicting ideas. But we all live in one state of cognitive dissonance or another, I suppose. (My ownership of MAC lipstick and Olay moisturizer and Club Monaco shirts and Coach handbags is a glaring example of this). All I’m asking is that you recognize it, and alter your perspective. Be conscious of your choices and their impact. Think about it, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Discomfort leads to change.
I not only stopped eating animal products, but I also drastically reduced my consumerism overall, and gradually began to phase animal tested cosmetics and fast-fashion clothing out of my usual purchasing repertoire. I stopped buying my treasured Lysol wipes. I will try to sell my unwanted clothing rather than donate it. (For information on why clothing donation may be harmful, watch the documentary Povery Inc. The True Cost is another eye-opener.) I am not a perfect shining example of anything; I’ve just tried to change some things about my life to lessen the strain I place on the environment, and to reduce my contribution to human and animal suffering.
All this is my exhaustingly round-about way of saying that I’m going to share, each week, everything I’ve eaten, to demonstrate that it’s really not that hard or much different from what you’re already doing. If you want to reduce your impact on climate, then forget about the electric car and the reusable diapers. Don’t even bother conserving water or buying energy-efficient appliances. (To be clear, you totally shouldn’t stop doing these things if you already are.) If you truly want to make a change, then stop eating meat. Or at the very least, stop eating beef and dairy. Do it for the planet.
I want to make clear that I do not intend to disparage or guilt-trip anyone for the choices they are currently making. I would be a horrible hypocrite if I were attempting do to that. Everyone lives their life at their own pace. I can’t tell you that what you’re doing is right or wrong; I can only tell you what I’m doing and why, and urge you to reevaluate. And if, after doing so, you come to the same conclusion you always have, then fine. It’s ok. Just don’t stop taking a moment, however frequently or infrequently, to pause and think. Do not remain complacent.
I also want to say that I kind of hate myself for writing this post because I know I sound self-righteous and preachy and everything I’ve always aspired never to be. But I’d feel worse if I didn’t say something. I think saying something is just another way of doing your part. If someone hadn’t said something to me then I probably wouldn’t have made an effort to change anything about my life. So if you’re not cool with all this, then ignore me or unfollow me. But if something I said resonates deep inside you, then listen and make a choice. Or don’t. But whatever you do, I want you to know that I am aware of the self-serving and slightly obnoxious nature of this post and, all things considered, I’m ok with it.
SO. After all that preamble, I invite you to check back next week for the first A Week in the Life post, when you can be totally disgusted with my eating habits (preview: I had 6 chocolate-chip cookies for breakfast today), but also maybe somewhere in there find some meal ideas.
Update: This becomes all the more relevant with the announcement today that the US will withdraw from the Paris Accord. Scary stuff…