The year 2015 is ending and people are preparing to make a change in their lives. This year, I embarked on my semi-resolution – my choice to become a vegan – around the beginning of the year. It was something I had wanted to do for a long time, an intention for the future, when I had my own kitchen and a “real” job where I could afford to spend money on all the expensive vegan substitutes for dairy and meat products. But I didn’t have a “real” job, I was a graduate student. And yet, after a big breakup in December, I was looking to make big changes. I wanted to live the ethical life I believed in. After all, how could I claim to fight for justice and not support some of the most vulnerable, voiceless beings on the planet – animals?
I didn’t start out as a full-on vegan. I didn’t even start January 1st. I was still figuring out how to do it in a way that worked for me. I had exceptions, like I would eat vegetarian on weekends, if I had a too strong craving or if I couldn’t figure out a way to avoid dairy in an awkward social situation I would let it go for the moment. I think it was sometime in March that I watched the documentary Earthlings and I realized I had no real reason to keep supporting an industry that tortured animals. People always console themselves about eating animals by not seeing the connection between the pets they love and animals they eat. But as I watched a pig that somehow behaved remarkably similar to my dog, Benicio, killed in a horrible and tortuous way, I realized that even as a vegetarian, I was complicit.
How could I ethically be only a vegetarian when I was no longer ignorant of the ways in which I was supporting the systematic rape, torture, terrible living conditions and murder of animals?
I used to express that I didn’t understand how a person can claim killing dogs is terrible but justify it to themselves to eat other animals. But now I understand that as a vegetarian, my hands were not clean.
I became re-committed to my mission. It was hard, and still is, but not for the reasons I expected it to be. I thought, as a cheese loving, mozzarella stick fan, and brie connoisseur I would miss cheese. I suppose I did, at first. But after I had eliminated it from my diet for a few months, I realized that I was no longer craving it. In fact, one day I accidentally ate a piece of cheese that had stuck to a piece of cheeseless pizza. As I chewed, I tasted a somewhat gross flavor and recognized it as cheese. Here I was, no longer enjoying mozzarella cheese! I couldn’t believe it.
My adorable dog Benicio, always happy to be with his family!
(Featured photo does not belong to me, found here)