Facebook, love it or hate it, is a great platform for discussion. And due to the limited space and custom of saying things in the briefest of ways, it's also a great place to be misunderstood. I really put my foot in it yesterday when I glibly quoted a bumper sticker that I found witty. I will repeat it here now, but you are not allowed to start yelling at me until you've read this entire post. It said, People who truly love animals don't eat them... just sayin.
The sh*tstorm ensued almost immediately, and continued throughout the day, leaving me feeling battered, tearful, exhausted, and eventually... inspired. I learned a lot, and came up with a great idea - I think - as part of the process. As Difficult Things tend to be, even self-induced Difficult Things, it was absolutely perfect, and I'm not at all sorry it happened. I am sorry I hurt some feelings with my blanket statement, which of course could only reflect my own limited perspective. But because of those hurt feelings, I was forced to press on and explain myself. I hope the ones who were hurt continued to read the thread throughout the day, but I have a feeling some of them didn't. I want to explain further here.
I used to eat animals. I've also had pets all my life, and loved wildlife, and even claimed a sincere adoration for the cows in the fields. I liked steak and burgers and chicken and fish and cheese... glorious cheese. And I was able to create a disconnect between those "food" animals and the other beloved "pet" animals. They seemed different to me.
As years went by, little by little I took animals out of my diet. First the cows, for health reasons, and also because they're, well, cute. Those big brown eyes and docile nature... sigh... After a while, I couldn't befriend them through the fence, and then go home and turn them into a meatloaf. Chicken and fish were not cute to my eyes, and seemed so much less aware, so it was easy to keep eating them. For a while. I started reading more and more about health, nutrition, and eeek, factory farming, including that of the fishes. And the more I knew, the more I couldn't un-know, until there came a tipping point where I could no longer eat any of them because I could no longer see any of the creatures of the earth as "less than" me.
Now I'm in a place (and a pretty lonely one, here in Taos), where I can't rationalize petting my dogs, feeding the wild birds, relocating spiders from the bathtub to the yard, and then eating other animals of any kind. While I'm appalled by the conditions factory animals are forced to endure, for me, as a personal choice, I no longer want to eat anything "that has a face," even if it was raised with love and respect. Most animals eaten in this country have led a most disrespected lives, and to me, that is intolerable. Animals raised thoughtfully and humanely for food are at least given a nice life, but again, for me, I see no reason to eat them.
Sure, there are plenty of arguments for eating meat. I won't even go into them, because I'm no longer interested. I've been there. I'm here now. I'm not some kind of militant, card carrying animal rights activist. I just happen to feel a certain equality with them. For me, there's no reason to eat animals, so I don't. I don't need to, and I also don't want to. It's that simple. I can no longer understand which animals are friends, and which ones are food, because they all seem the same to me. They all seem like friends.
I was accused of several unpleasant things yesterday, and as I reject those accusations, I'll also quickly try to dodge another before it hits. As a vegan, I believe firmly in certain things. Veganism is a way of life, but it is not my religion. I'll even risk some further wrath by saying that I think God is too big for just one religion, so I refuse to choose one. To me, veganism is more like recycling... it's something everyone can do, at least a little bit, and the more the better, for the individual, the planet, other humans, and of course, the animals.
Some of us save and recycle every can, bottle, and scrap. Some towns support recycling better then others. Some people don't care, and throw everything in the trash. Some are somewhere in between. It's become commonly accepted that recycling is a Good Thing. I hope that will also happen with veganism. Little by little, I hope things like Meatless Mondays will become more and more popular, that people will begin to educate themselves, to eat even a little less meat, and that as we start to see improvements in our own bodies and the world around us, veganism, like recycling, will catch on as another widely accepted Good Thing.
I want to help that happen, and I want to remain sensitive to each individual's right to do whatever they darn well please. I know a lot of people are curious about veganism, and it's hard to sift through all the websites and information out there. I often get requests for recipes from people who want to add a really good meatless meal to the menu once in a while. There are books and websites and experts all over the place, but I think there's a place in the mix for someone like me, a non-expert, a student, a curious cook, a brave (or foolish) blogger, to assist in the learning process for those who are interested. This blog is not the place. Facebook is definitely not the place. And so, the great idea I got from yesterday's lively discussion is...
... a new blog.
I've already started building it, although it isn't published yet. It will be soon. It's called Positively Vegan, and in keeping with the title, I'll make a promise to you. I will speak only of the positive aspects of a vegan diet/lifestyle. I will not say anything, ever, to try to make you feel bad about your own life choices. I will encourage you to know all you can know, and to do the best you possibly can for yourself and our shared planet. I will be respectful of our differences. And yes, I will attempt to woo you over to the Vegan Side.
There will be a page within the blog called The Nasty Bits, that will provide links to all the horror stories of factory farming, meat associated health problems, livestock related environmental issues, and other things you may or may not want to know. You will have to go to that page on your own, when you're ready. Or not.
There will also be a page of fun and happy links, to recipes and shopping and resources to help you on your merry meat-free way. The main page of the new blog, the "meat," as it were, will be personal postings about my successes and struggles as a vegan, as well as recipes and pictures and encouragement. I had talked about writing a recipe book at one point. Honestly, I don't have it in me, although I suppose a well written food blog might one day evolve into a book. It's a possibility, but not necessarily a goal. The real goal is to share the love and the good food. Vegan or not, everybody loves good food, right? Yes, we can all eat together, at one big table, and nobody has to get hurt.
OK. There it all is. If you still want to yell at me... well, I hope you don't. I'll get the new blog, Positively Vegan, up and running soon, and will keep this one going as it has been all along. I think the Food needs its own space, but I think I'll also include recipes here, and will likely copy them over to my slot on BlogHer, because it's good to triangulate whenever possible.
I hope you'll stay tuned.