I’d like to think of myself as an everyday average guy. I go to the gym; I like action movies, violence and pornography. Video games are an obsession and I constantly procrastinate with important matters. I try to distance myself from politics because I can barely find the time to care because, let’s face it, I have bills to pay.
I am also a vegan. Well, I usually am. Sometimes, I have to be a vegetarian at restaurants because that’s the only option available. That, or I could ask for what essentially amounts to a bowl of lettuce. There is nothing quite like asking the waitress or waiter to hold the cheese and croutons, maybe throw in some almonds or peanuts if they are available. They give me this odd look as if I may have lived my whole life in a bomb shelter and have never ordered food before.
Don’t get me wrong; I may be vegan and no longer eat it but I LOVE meat. I love the smell, the taste, I even love the little cancer causing heterocyclic amines that form when you cook meet in a pan or over an open flame. I knew about them when I ate meat, I just didn’t care. At the time, meat was great and that’s all that mattered.
My partner is a raw vegan and a strong believer in animal rights but, prior to my becoming vegan, she had never judged me for continuing to eat meat. She allowed me to come to my own conclusions, which I think is important for anyone
Anyways, what shoved me into a lifestyle change away from meat protein came from several sources. Firstly, I watched a documentary called Food Inc. as a part of Health Education class that I took in University. I heartily recommended watching it, not to make anyone choose to become a vegan or vegetarian but to simply become more aware of the extra additives and chemicals that companies are putting into the foods we feed our families. The film also touches on some of the abuses inflicted upon animals during processing so be warned.
The next step in my transition came from John Oliver. Via YouTube, I watched an episode of the hilarious and exceedingly well-researched show on HBO entitled: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Chickens. At the time of writing, the episode is still available on YouTube if you’re curious. I recommend checking it out. What the show underlines for the viewer is that we are at the mercy of these massive companies that produce our food. They determine what we eat and where that food comes from. What is also made apparent is that many of these companies don’t care about how the food is made; they choose profits over the sake of the animal’s welfare.
After watching these two pieces of media and experiencing the bevy of emotions that followed, I found myself in a bit of a conundrum. I loved eating meat but I also didn’t want anyone or anything to suffer as a result of my choices.
Ultimately, I decided that I didn’t want to feel guilty about eating an animal, knowing that it may have suffered prior to its death. I became aware of a sort of hypocrisy that exists in our culture where some animals, such as cows and chickens are deemed okay for consumption while others, such as dogs and dolphins should never be eaten due to their intelligence or relationship with human beings. Intelligence is entirely subjective and should never be a measure of whether or not something deserves to live.
That’s the rub for me. It feels like we are choosing to hurt and harm when there are alternatives available. My point is not to come across high and mighty; I am nowhere close to what might pass as an acceptable human being. However, I do think it is important to try and do as little harm as we can during our short lives. If I can do that, then I will be happy.
Adapting to a new diet isn’t even difficult. I receive all of my required macro and micronutrients from my vegan diet with no extra effort required. It is simply a matter of replacing one thing with another when I go shopping.
That brings me to another point, shopping for groceries is a much more enjoyable experience now as the weekly cost of my vegan diet is far less than my costs when I was regularly eating meat. I’m saving almost two hundred dollars a month but receiving the same caloric intake that my lifestyle requires. Who knew, right?
Removing meat products from my diet has not negatively affected my life in any way, outside for the occasional longing for chicken wings. I still lift weights, jog and lead an active healthy lifestyle. I feel better physically and more importantly, I feel at peace with my decision to choose a different way.
A final note, contrary to popular jokes, I don’t inform people that I am a vegan when I first meet them.