It’s the post I’ve wanted to write a hundred times. I was constantly living on this tipping point between vegetarianism and veganism, and I knew which way I wanted to fall.
Well folks, it’s official … I am happily declaring myself as VEGAN!
After Al was born, I ate dairy free and gluten free for a month. After that, I went another three months with absolutely no animal products. Sometime around the time she was 4 or 5 months old, I was majorly craving cheese and eggs, and I ate them. When we went to Indiana in June, all bets were off. I didn’t give myself any dietary restrictions (aside from not eating meat, which is a non-issue with me … wouldn’t do it), and I ate a ton of dairy and eggs. When we arrived back in Portland, I looked as if I was 5 months pregnant. I just felt like shit … I felt guilty, and really unhealthy.
That was it. I was done with consuming anything from animals.
I talked with my friend Jen (also a vegan), and she helped me sort my feelings … She mentioned that whenever she had a craving, or questioned her journey, she always came back to her “why”. I think everyone has a different “why”, but here is mine:
After having Alba, I got to experience the most beautiful relationship of my life: breastfeeding my daughter. No bond will ever feel stronger. Even though it hasn’t been easy or worked out the way I thought it would, I am so thankful for every drop of breast milk. Because of this, there was NO WAY I could eat cheese or dairy. The hard truth is that most dairy cows are separated from their calves very shortly after birth, hooked to machines several times a day (often resulting in infections, mastitis, and pain), and soon after, forcefully inseminated again to start the process all over again. Their calves are either used as dairy cows (starting the cycle all over again), and others are sent to be turned into veal. Sure that might be all they know, but I’ve had a baby. I know the bond … it’s chemicals … it’s hormones … it’s primal. I just couldn’t be a part of that.
As for eggs, I was torn. The chickens don’t die … so why stop eating them? Well, the chickens DO die. When the chicks hatch or arrive at the facility, they are sexed. Male chicks are discarded. They are usually thrown into a big drum, and suffocate under the weight of their brothers. The surviving chicks are not treated humanely (even when the package claims so), and their beaks are clipped or burnt to avoid them hurting each other. Again, I just can’t be a part of that.
My “why” for vegetarianism was that I don’t think it’s okay to put my life above an animal’s. More specifically, I value animal life, and my dinner isn’t an important enough reason for them to die. And now, my “why” for veganism is that while I wasn’t consuming animal flesh, I was still contributing to the pain and suffering of animals, and since I have the choice, I choose compassion. I love the documentary Vegucated, and would suggest it to anyone. It’s entertaining, and full of information about the vegan lifestyle.
Since mid-June, I’ve been eating a vegan diet. It’s been awesome. I’ve learned a ton of new recipes, ingredients, and methods of cooking. I’ve made amazing dinners, baked goods, and other fun vegan ‘challenges’. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen our #jandreats hashtag, which is full of vegan food (often gluten free, too).
I’ll admit, I have craved a cheese pizza from time to time, but the craving passes (I just think of my “why”). I’ve never felt better about what I’m eating, and I’ve even lost 8 pounds. Because I am breastfeeding, I am taking a few supplements each day: iron, B-12, Vitamin D, and a tincture for breastmilk production. As Alba starts eating solids, I’m so excited to introduce my baby to a healthy vegan diet. Yes, for now, we’re going to raise her vegan. She’ll eat a wide variety of beans, veggies, fruits, grains, nuts, and seeds. We’ll avoid processed foods as much as we can, and as we start our baby led weaning adventure, it all just feels right.
I plan on sharing weekly grocery hauls, meal ideas, and vegan philosophy here. I am happy to answer any questions … I know this seems very weird or foreign to some, but to me, it’s easy. When I have the inspiration I do, it’s not hard to stick with it. I am thankful to live in a time where I have the choice to live with compassion towards all living beings.