Ok ok ok, so I keep getting questions about why I’ve stopped eating animal products, and since I promised to try and explain, here goes.
For the last, oh, decade at least, the only meats I’ve really eaten have been chicken, bacon and sometimes pepperoni on pizza. I have had the occasional shrimp, but really, I could probably count all the shrimps I’ve eaten in my life on two hands. I haven’t eaten beef or hot dogs since I was a kid, and I’ve never particularly warmed to seafood. And mostly what I ate was chicken. The bacon and pepperoni were really quite rare. Anyhoe, for a while now, whenever I’ve eaten even chicken, it’s really just been grossing me out. I don’t know why it didn’t gross me out before and then started grossing me out. It just did. The more I thought about what it was that I was eating, the less I wanted it in my body. It just stopped making sense to consume it.
So I’d been thinking of going vegetarian for a while when, last Friday (day after Thanksgiving), I had dinner with my friend Emily. In deciding on where we wanted to eat, she informed me that she’d recently gone vegan, so we had to find some place where she could find something to eat. We decided on Sushi Thai, which was an excellent choice, and as we ate, we talked some about vegetarianism and how I’d been wanting to do it too. When I asked why she’d given up dairy as well (adding that I could never do it), she started telling me about this book she was reading, and how it described what meat and dairy do inside your body, etc., etc. She happened to have the book with her, and I read a few little bits of it. It was a really entertaining book, which was surprising for a book about food, and I thought it would be fun and informative to read (and it is, if you don’t mind a lot of cussing).
We went to Barnes and Noble after dinner, and I got the book and started reading. Now, the writers of this book are literally models who have probably never ever been fat in their lives. I’m guessing they might have pushed 130 after the freshman fifteen, so it’s really frustrating how they keep making the point of the whole thing to be about getting skinny. Some people will never be that skinny unless they sacrifice their health for it. Life is not about being skinny, and I don’t think they really believe that. I think it was the best way to sell this book to women, though, who base their entire self-worth on their image. So whether they think skinny is best or they just want to prey on women with low self-esteem, either way, I want to punch them in their skinny necks. But the things they say about the crap we eat are true regardless.
And they’re really quite the conspiracy theorists when it comes to governmental agencies like the USDA, the FDA, the EPA and various boards and councils on beef, pork, eggs, dairy, etc. They must say at least 10 times, “Trust no one.” It’s more than a little over the top, but it does open one’s eyes to the fact that the meat and dairy industries are just that: industries. They are businesses that work to further their business and increase their profits. I’m not condemning them for that. I’m just testing out for myself the dairy guys’ claims that “milk does a body good.” It’s good advertising for sure, but the question is: Is it necessary?
Advertisers always try to make us feel like we need their product. If we don’t get it, we’ll be somehow behind everyone else, or not as sexy, or not as interesting, or not as healthy. Why should we have ever supposed that the advertising done by various food industries would be any different?
I believe milk does do a body good. If you are an infant. I mean think about it. When does the human body naturally produce milk? And what is its purpose? It is meant to nourish a human through the largest growth spurt of its life. Cows produce milk at the same time and for the same reason, only cows’ milk makes cows much bigger than human milk makes humans. So how in the world, and why, did we decide that we needed cows’ milk? It just doesn’t make sense.
So I’m giving it all up, and we’re going to see how it goes. I’m not being picky about everything being organic or about not eating sugar or even about asking how things are prepared. If it obviously has animal products in it, I’m not eating it. If I’m at a restaurant with friends, though, and I have to go through a game of 20 Questions before I can decide whether a dish is “safe” or not, that’s just not what I’m after. I’m not trying to make my life about following all the rules, and I certainly don’t want to be difficult. If the rice is boiled in chicken stock, I just don’t want to know. If I can control it, though (ie: If I’m cooking), I want to make the healthiest choices I can.
This isn’t about being skinny. I am not on a diet. I have never been especially skinny, and I’ve been ok with that for a long time. This is about being healthy, and if it turns out that dairy is necessary to my health, I’ve got no problems with welcoming some glorious, cheesy goodness back into my life. If giving up animal products leads to an improvement in my health, though, then some other changes may follow…although giving up sugar would literally be almost impossible if I ever want to go out to eat. Ever.
Oh. And this website advises me not to call myself a vegan as I have not made this decision based on the pity I take for the animals (particularly, the poor enslaved honeybees…seriously?), but rather for health reasons. So for the record, I’m not vegan. I’m simply adhering to a vegan diet.
And the biggest change is really that when I go to the grocery store, I actually have to look at what’s in the food I’m buying. And really…shouldn’t we be doing that anyway? Shouldn’t we know what we’re putting into our bodies?
I don’t know if this will last for the rest of my life, because every day, it’s a choice to eat one thing instead of another. And as time goes on, those types of choices may not be as important to me, or I might make a bad choice (as I am apt to do). But my skin is clearing up, I haven’t had a bad hair day all week, and when I went to Urban Outfitters yesterday, where the clothes are generally made for people much smaller than myself, everything fit. Do the math.