It has been more than three years since I became a vegetarian. I wrote about my reasons here. For those who wonder, I do not eat fish. If I did, I would not be a vegetarian. I do not eat anything that has been alive. I also stopped buying things made of leather (leather=dead animal, duh). I cut way back on dairy products and eggs, but didn’t completely stop eating them. And that bothered me.
As I wrote about in my previous post, I stopped eating animals because I could no longer bear the idea of killing a beautiful, living creature just for my selfish enjoyment. The horror of factory farms, their cruel treatment of animals, the overcrowding, the filthy conditions, not to mention the environmental consequences, only added to my determination to give up meat.
But, and this is a big but, I still ate dairy products. Oh, I gave up eggs for a while, until I found myself craving them occasionally. I needed my half and half in my coffee, and, oh, I loved cheese.
One can say, oh, it’s just dairy, at least they’re not killing the animals. Well, before you say that, watch this.
Yes, it is awful. Disgusting. Shocking. Disgraceful. Words can’t aptly describe the horrors in that video. Remember, that is a dairy farm. Just. a. dairy. farm.
Somehow, humans seem to disassociate, if that is the right word, our food from it’s source. We know what happens at factory farms. We know that the majority of our beef, poultry and eggs, pork, and dairy products comes from factory farms. We know that labeling means next to nothing, that most of it is marketing to soothe our guilty souls, because there are few laws that regulate claims like ‘cage free,’ ‘grass fed,’ ‘free range,’ and other such terms. But still, knowing all that, we still sit down to our big juicy steak, baked potato smothered in fresh dairy butter and sour cream, and eat our ice cream for dessert.
Well, I finally reached my end point. My “aha” moment. Like when, about 20 years ago, after years of trying, I finally tossed out the cigarettes and never touched them again. I was ready. To go vegan.
I decided to start with Lent. I’m not Catholic and I’ve never given up anything for Lent. But, this time, I decided, what the heck. I knew that if I was going to go vegan for 40 days, I could do it forever. Honestly, because I already followed a healthy, mostly plant-based, home cooked diet, it was not that much of a difference. I have become an avid label reader. There are so many ingredients that made from milk. And, believe it or not, they are not labeled “milk derived.” (insert sarcasm in that line)
It is a process. I make mistakes here and there. I discovered, for instance, that my favorite cold cereal, that I got from Trader Joe’s, contained gelatin! Gelatin is not only not vegan, it is not vegetarian. And I’m only beginning to examine the other products that I use, makeup, household cleansers, laundry products, etc., that either contain animal products or test on animals. I did find this list, from Caring Consumer.com, that is quite comprehensive in listing the hidden ingredients in the items that we use daily. There are many other resources, both online and in print to help me on my way.
I’ve got to say, I feel much better about myself, knowing that I’m not contributing to the cruelty.