At the beginning of December, I posted a blog about how I was becoming a vegan, in no small part due to the influence of a documentary called Cowspiracy. I’d started down the path of zero animal-product consumption a week or two before that, and it has been nearly two months of eating lots of beans, fruits, and nuts. I didn’t expect it to be a simple transition, particularly given my love of chocolate milk and cream cheese. What surprises me is how easy it’s been.
The beginning of 2013 was the first time I ever tried eating vegetarian. It lasted around eight or nine months. After accidentally eating some poutine, I gave it up and indulged my inner carnivore for almost two years. I had very little conviction about it and had only started sparing animals out of a random notion that eating dead flesh was weird. At that time, I didn’t have a care for the environmental aspects, the moral aspects, nor the health aspects of eating animal products. It wasn’t particularly difficult to be a vegetarian, but neither was it hard to give up. In 2015, I once again decided to give up the beef, this time because I realized how unnecessary it was to kill things. We have so many options available to use for sustenance, why be cruel and murderous towards other living creatures if we have the choice? Still, I ate dairy, and of all things, fish. I reasoned that drinking chocolate milk and eating eggs wasn’t harmful to the animals and so it was fine. Fish…well I had no excuse for fish. I just really loved sushi. My convictions were on their way, but clearly still shaky.
Then I was shown the light, so to speak, and learned about the many different variables involved in the animal products industry. Things feel different now. They feel solid. The thought of eating meat actually fills me with some revulsion, and even chocolate milk, that sweet nectar that helped satiate me after long days spent sweating on farms, no longer holds any sway. I have more than one reason for not consuming animal products, I have an entire array of justifications, and it’s making this journey easy; almost suspiciously easy.
At the same time, there are things I’ve noticed that aren’t sitting well with me. For one, I did not expect to become so judgmental. I used to visit vegan blogs and sub-reddits, out of curiosity, and I was always shocked at the vitriol and nastiness of many of the viewpoints towards non-vegans. The behavior in those groups reminded me of lunchroom cruelty, with lots of kids excluding others and calling them abhorrent names. It really turned me away from engaging with vegans, lest they cast stones at me for a single egg cracked. Yet, since becoming vegan, I have on multiple occasions looked at someone buying a rack of ribs or a roast chicken in line at the grocery store and curled my lip in disgust. I suppose I’ve always condemned anyone for eating at McDonald’s or Taco Bell (let’s be honest, that’s not food), but it’s reached new heights. I don’t love this side effect, and I struggle to keep my mouth shut.
Part of this stems from an increased awareness about what I’m putting in my own body, and I think I’ve started to project that outwards. The adage “you are what you eat,” sounds trite, but it’s scientifically true. Food matter is transferred into cellular matter. That quarter-pounder so simply shoved in one’s mouth will eventually become the muscles working underneath the skin or the skin itself. I see this more clearly, and in my more imaginative moments I can actually see the cellular process happening, like Neo at the end of the Matrix. I don’t want my skin to be greasy hamburgers and processed cheese. At least, not anymore. There were days when I didn’t care about my health, but that’s also changed. Seeing people buy meat and dairy now provokes in me the same reaction that watching someone smoke does. A positive way to look at this is that I seem to care about the health of others.
So now I eat avocados and peanut butter. Coconut milk is superior to cow’s milk in every single way. I eat lots of oranges. I love oranges now. I liked them before, but part of the vegan process for me was no longer being allowed to stop at a gas station and snack on a Swiss roll. My processed sugar intake has dropped to actual human levels, and sweet fruits are now delicious in a new way. I still eat bread, though I’m oddly willing to pay for the more expensive, whole grain stuff. Tofu, it turns out, is delicious once you understand that it’s not really supposed to taste like meat. I eat more now too, whenever and as much as I want, and I’ve lost weight. Getting myself under 210 (I’m 6’3″ and pretty muscly) has always required months of working out and watching my caloric intake, but this time it happened without me stepping foot into a gym (not that I endorse laziness). I also just feel better; all over, inside and out.
The biggest shock of this whole process is that it seems permanent. I was worried at first about the proposition of never eating fish or cheese again, but my outlook has changed. I no longer fear a life lacking in gastric pleasure because there’s more than enough tastiness in vegan food. Often it requires more invention, but I’ve never been much for the status quo anyway. Most importantly, my convictions are stronger about this than they have been about anything else. I haven’t been tempted yet, but even if I am, I have no doubt that I will sustain from indulging because, in a life of few hard-line beliefs, I’ve found one that makes sense for me. A friend once told me something her father had told her. She said that after I’d met him, he later said to her that I seemed like a man who stood by his convictions. I joked with her that yes, maybe I would, if I had any. It’s only been a couple months, but it all feels sustainable and lasting. I feel convicted. I hope it keeps up. Happy eating!