When I was pregnant with my first child, I quit my job and my husband was traveling for work. We were using assisted reproductive technology and I had experienced an early loss, so the goal was to keep me healthy and eliminate stress. So I watched all of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and read lots of books. I made some emotional, and maybe in retrospect stressful, book choices (like reading My Sister's Keeper while pregnant- not recommended, even though it's a good book). One of the books I read, the book that in turn changed my life, was Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. I had thought it would be an interesting read. For most of high school, I identified as vegetarian, though I ate fish, and then late in college I started reintroducing other meats back into my diet. Then I started dating a very anti-vegetarian guy, and that part of my identity and core beliefs just sort of melted away.
So I picked up the book thinking maybe it was time to reconsider vegetarianism, and at that point I had gone a few years without dairy after developing an allergy. I even had a vegan cupcake recipe book (Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, still one of my favorite cookbooks of all time) because I found that it was easier to use vegan recipes to avoid milk/butter. I had enjoyed the movie,Everything is Illuminated, and was curious about the author.
When I read the book, I turned into a bobblehead doll. I just found myself nodding along. Safran Foer addresses the ethics of animal agriculture from the lens of our very human ethics, universal ethics that simply aren't reflected on most of our plates. My choices started looking like choices, not passive acceptance of a cruel system. It was empowering and saddening at the same time. I started talking with my husband about the book, reflecting on my own core beliefs and ethics, and didn't change my diet. I simply started thinking more. I was also taking a natural childbirth class called HypnoBirthing that reassured us as mothers that in the absence of medical need, our instincts could help us make the best choices for our bodies and our babies. There was also a raw vegan mom in the class, and seeing her healthy pregnancy sparked an interest and defied some myths I had believed. I thought about the chatter in my head of fear about vegetarianism and veganism, much of it perpetrated by my ex-boyfriend, and realized that when I looked inward to what I truly believed about humans, animals, and the life I was living, it didn't make sense for me to eat animals. But I still didn't change my diet.
When our daughter was born, there were a million other things going on in my mind, and the book was largely forgotten. But I did stop eating eggs, because I had such a strong aversion to them during pregnancy. I had also had an aversion to the smell of cooking meat during pregnancy, so we were eating much less without making any ethical stance.
After several months, it was time to feed our perfect, healthy baby. I was reading all sorts of books and websites about how to give her the best start in life, and one website said that chicken was an ideal first food. I remember that striking a chord with me, feeling such an immensely powerful resistance to that statement. I told my husband, who had never even considered vegetarianism, and he also had a strong reaction, "No, I don't want to give my baby meat!" So, we fed her avocado, and banana, and roasted yams, and pureed pears. Finally, as her tastes grew, we realized we had already made a decision; there was no reason to feed our baby meat, we didn't eat dairy because we are both allergic, we didn't want to give her eggs. It just didn't feel right. I thought of all the people who I talked to about vegetarianism and veganism, and they all said the same thing:
"Oh I wish I could do that, but I could never give up cheese/bacon/steak/eggs/etc. I love animals, but I just wouldn't even know what to eat."
I realized that I could give my child true choice by raising her vegan, so that she wasn't so addicted to cheese or programmed to believe you need meat, and then she could choose the diet and life she wanted. I imagined those eyes looking at me when she was old enough and saying, "You fed me dead animals? Why?" and I didn't want to do that.
Our daughter is 6 years old now, and sometimes asks me, "How did you know I was vegan?" I just did. I knew I didn't want to feed death to the perfect life I had created. We wished for her and worked so hard to bring her to us, and we wanted only good things for her, and for us that meant a vegan lifestyle, so we adopted it too, and another pregnancy and baby and 6 years later, we are all so happy.
When I first became vegan, it felt very all or nothing. How could I contribute to the torture and murder of animals? I attributed that same all or nothing to my activism. Over half a decade later, I've come to a new feeling that if I can do my part to influence others to make the choice to limit their animal consumption, to make more compassionate choices, then I am lessening the suffering of animals, and that's got to be a win in my book every single time.
So when I created this blog, I wanted to show people that vegan meals could be fun, easy, and delicious, in hopes more people would eat plant-based more of the time, and that's all I ask. And maybe, like when I first read Eating Animals, you will think about your choices a bit more, and that's always a positive.
In the book, there's a lot of research and personal interviews with farm workers from factory farms, small "humane" farms, and slaughter houses. He held his readers so that they can make informed decisions, and while I don't choose to make this blog ethics-based, I like to think by informing my readers about alternatives to animals, and maybe that will make you think too.
But, as they say, you don't have to take my word for it. Read the book yourself and maybe it will change your life too!
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