Friday, February 25, 2011

peace love chickens

I have been on this voyage to veganism for about two weeks now, and I’ve already been chastised by other vegans for a couple of my practices.  Then today I went to Hy-Vee and met with the nutritionalist (more on this later) and she asked me what “level” of vegan I am?  Who knew there were levels?  So when I got home, I jumped on the computer and Googled VEGAN:

“…somebody not eating animal products: somebody who does not eat meat, fish, dairy products, or eggs.”

"…the doctrine that man should live without exploiting animals."

“…refers either to the plant-based diet alone, or to a lifestyle that seeks to eliminate animal use entirely.”

"The word 'veganism' denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, including humans and the environment.
In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals."

Noun: One who does not consume animal products.
Adjective: Made with no animal ingredients.

The more I read, the more confused I got.  Some vegans eat only organics.  Some vegans only eat locally grown produce. Some vegans do eat honey, but others do not.  Some eat eggs, but only those from “happy chickens” on small family farms where the chickens are allowed to roam about without supervision or curfew, attending morning yoga and practicing free love while wearing their beads and headbands and little fringed vests.  

peace  love chickens 

Okay, maybe that’s not quite true.  (How would they get those little vests over their wings anyway?)  Really, though, it seems absolutely ridiculous to me that someone doesn’t eat honey because a very small percentage of bees are stressed out and die from the beekeeper tending the hive.  I must assume that these people also do not drive their cars since bugs will die on the windshield, and they certainly don’t let their children frolic in the grass where they might accidentally crush an ant hill or step on a worm!  Do these people understand the importance of pollination to our crops—the very vegetables and fruits and grains that make up a vegan diet?
(Are you vegan and disagree with me?  There is nothing I like more than a good debate.  Bring it!)

I like that fourth definition that says “as far as is possible and practical” in the middle.  POSSIBLE and PRACTICAL.  I said before that I’m not going to throw away food in the freezer to make this voyage. I’m not going to throw a fit at a restaurant if I get butter on my sweet potato.  And I’m not going to judge you for eating whatever it is you eat.  I disagree with most extremism.  I believe we can all come to some sort of understanding and respect for each other even if we disagree.  And that holds true for our dietary choices, our religious beliefs, and our political standings.  I can respect you even though you are wrong! :  )

Anyway, I feel the need to define veganism for me.  I would encourage you to research and read and pray and decide for yourself what is best for you.  I am doing this for my health and for the health of my family and friends.  It makes me unhappy to hear about large farming practices, about the use of animals for fashion, or about the use of animals in scientific studies.  But “unhappy” is as far as I’ll go.  I’m not going to sneak into some facility in the middle of the night and let all the rats go loose because God intended them be free.  I’m not going to boycott leather shoes.  I’m not going to picket outside of a hatchery and egg farm.  That’s just not my style. 

I want to be a healthier person for my family.  I want my kids to have a strong background and understanding of what living healthfully really means. I want them to respect and care for the gifts that God has given them. And I’m hoping that my decision will spark some of you to become more aware of your eating (and living) practices.  If we all live a more meaningful and educated existence, it will make a difference.  It will make a difference to each individual, and it will also make a difference on a much bigger basis.

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