I’m not a huge fan of using the word “vegan” to describe myself, mainly because I don’t exactly fit the description. I am also not plant-based because I love me some fake meats and processed foods. So I’m sticking to “eating compassionately.”
According to “The Vegan Society”
Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose
Full disclosure: I still own and use items that contain leather and wool and my diet is not 100% sterile of animal products. However, I do not purchase meat, dairy and eggs for consumption in my own kitchen and avoid it when purchasing food out of the home.
The absolute hardest part about removing animal products from your diet is explaining your reasons to someone who only hears the words and refuses to listen to the message.
My Experience Telling Someone I don’t eat meat
A: Hey you want some chicken?
B: No thank you!
A: Why not? You’re gonna go hungry.
B: No worries, I don’t really eat meat and I’ve got a plate full, but thank you
A : OMG I COULD NEVER DO THAT, HOW DO YOU SURVIVE, THATS NOT HEALTHY, THIS IS REAL FOOD, GOD GAVE US ANIMALS TO EAT, THEY’RE DELICIOUS FOR A REASON. I WOULD RATHER DIE HAPPY EATING WHATEVER I WANT!! WHAT DO YOU EAT JUST CARROTS NOW?
As an avid meat eater I thought vegans were stuck up hippies who prayed to PETA and attacked people with their messages. I can now say I have never received such aggressiveness from a vegetarian, as a meat eater, the way I have from those who eat animal products, as a vegan.
I am desperately seeking respect between the two communities because likely you will never have all meat eating or all vegetarian friends/coworkers/family members.
Why Eating Compassionately works for me
Convenience – I really can’t be bothered to prepare meat on a daily or weekly basis. I mostly only really ate chicken and fish and even that was too much work.
Preference – If I could eat a 95% carb diet (I don’t), I seriously would. I spent so many years cutting carbs and depriving myself that I am now eating all my favourite foods more often. For some reason people assume I don’t eat gluten??? No. I love gluten and gluten loves me.
Disordered Behaviours – I weighed in the low 120s and was eating 140-150g of protein out of fear of not getting adequate protein. I was eating so much meat, dairy and eggs that I left very little room for necessary carbs and fats. My carbs were mainly veggies but was really not giving myself the adequate sugar my body needed to fuel my workouts. This is not a reality for everyone, but for me, eating compassionately has reestablished balance in my diet.
Food Tracking – Because I actively food track, I know I am getting a balanced diet. Becoming a vegan and just eating pasta and bread is not going to work. I went into this looking to educate myself. I take an iron supplement, I eat every vegetable under the sun and I drink fortified almond milk for B12.
My geographical location/socioeconomic status – I do not live in poverty or in a desert. I live in a developed nation where food supply is plentiful and still somewhat affordable. We have access to both imported and locally grown food and produce, supplements and things like fortified non-dairy milk etc Saying “what if you had no other choice but to eat cheese” is a ridiculous statement because that is not the reality of my life situation. I live a nutritionally privileged life, I am well aware of this privilege and that is the reason why this way of eating is sustainable for me and perhaps not a realistic way of living for everyone in the world.
Why do I care so much?
Because I love my dog. This sounds completely ridiculous, but hear me out.
I have heard people speak about slaughterhouses and cruelty many times before. I have had and currently have both vegetarian and vegan friends. So how did I go from not caring to now joining them?
My dog gave me perspective. He is an animal I love so deeply and could never imagine being subjected to cruelty. So then I thought to myself, how on Earth is a cow, pig or chicken any different?
I don’t hold the strong belief that we weren’t meant to eat animals. That’s a debate I don’t have an established position on. What I do hold strong beliefs in is that we weren’t meant to capitalize on the mass destruction of vulnerable life.
If I was in a forest and I had very low food supply and had the means to hunt an animal, I would. That is being resourceful and maximizing survival. But I would never kill 2 rabbits if I only needed 1.
Killing an animal for sustenance is not inherently cruel, what is cruel is that we don’t do it for sustenance, but rather for “mmmmm bacon.”
I think there is fair amount of benefit to being an omnivore, especially in places where food supply is less plentiful. This is my personal view, this is not the view of all vegan and vegetarians.
So what’s wrong with milk and eggs?
Dairy cows are artificially inseminated every time their milk goes dry. They give birth to a calf that then gets taken away from them at birth. The baby is sold to livestock farmers for veal and the female cow is attached to milking equipment and sucked dry until she can be impregnated by a farmers fist for the umpteenth time.
Dairy cows only live to about age 4 and are then sold for livestock. All for the love of pizza and lattes. As both an animal lover and a feminist, the dairy industry will not receive my support.
I honestly had some faith in the egg industry. Then I learned male chicks are thrown into grinders upon hatching. I am forever scarred by that image. I will gladly pass on the omelette. This doesn’t even touch on the conditions laying hens are subjected to.
You could call me a part time vegan, 90% vegan, a “flexitarian”, a fraud…. or maybe just a human. Because at the end of the day, what I choose to put on my plate is my decision.
I am not here to convert you, I am simply here to educate. If something I wrote resonated with you, great. If you think I’m a moron, then I probably never liked you anyways. All I ask is to approach the topic with both an open mind and an open heart.
I do not automatically hate and lose respect for anyone routinely eating animal products, so I ask non-vegetarian readers to show respect in return. Rolling your eyes when I ask for no cheese or pointing to your chicken and proclaiming “this is real food!!” is exceptionally arrogant.
If you wish to actually listen, simply ask without turning on all your defenses. I am not going to attack you with a carrot, so don’t attack me with your steak knife either.
Are you constantly hungry? No. I eat >2000 calories and get 50-70g of fibre a day.
Do you have low energy? Nope, pretty much the same overall energy levels in a day and if they are lower it’s because I didn’t get enough sleep, not because I didn’t have a yogurt.
Don’t you think cheese is so delicious? Yes I do. My tastebuds didn’t all of a sudden freeze. I ate meat and dairy for 21 years, I still think meat smells delicious and that melted cheese looks like heaven. These association however are learned and with time I will unlearn them.
What if you ate something that accidentally had butter in it? It has happened, there is nothing I can do. If I was misinformed then that is just unfortunate, but I may have consciously chosen to eat it as well… I won’t spontaneously combust or go confess in vegan church because of it.
Are you doing this for weight loss? No. You will not lose weight just because you stopped eating dairy/meat. Some actually gain weight because they think they can eat all these “healthy foods” to no limit.
Note: You may feel lighter because your poops will be incredible. (source: my large intestine)
Didn’t God put animals on this Earth for us to eat? What makes you think God created this Earth for you? If we’re going to bring religion into this, know that it was when Eve took what wasn’t hers to take that God punished the humans. Thousands of years later and we’re still taking what isn’t ours to take, mass producing it and making profit to boot.
Are you feeling any weaker? My strength is progressing for the first time in over a year at the gym. If anything I am working harder just to prove that chicken breasts and bacon aren’t the reason you can lift.
I know someone who stopped being vegan because she developed an eating disorder, what are you thoughts on that? My thoughts are that he/she had an eating disorder before they became vegan. They used the food restriction to justify avoiding food. My experience is one of liberation not one of restriction. My diet has become much more varied, I have no problems with the calories or nutritional profile in cheese or meat, I have a problem with the measures we take to obtain them. Like I said I eat 2100-2300 calories a day and maintain my weight just fine. I track my food 5-6 days out of the week and let loose a bit for 1-2 days usually because I will go out and eat or will share food with someone and don’t feel the need to stress over the quantities.
Why not organic? Organic does not mean cruelty free.
How do you eat out? I don’t eat out frequently to begin with, but when I do, I look at menus ahead of time and prepare myself. I have tried some bomb veg restaurants, also mexican and thai food are vegan friendly, italian is harder but spaghetti aglio e olio is fantastic, most of the time you can just get a vegetarian dish and ask for no cheese.
Arent you scared you’re not getting a balanced diet? When I get this question from someone who eats 3 servings of vegetables a week I am fairly confident I don’t need to give an actual reply. But like I said, I track my food and my macronutrients and remain aware of my micronutrients. If you start listing to me how many unhealthy vegetarians you know, I will start listing off all the unhealthy meat eaters I know and we can keep going until Kingdom come. The reality is that you can be healthy or unhealthy on BOTH DIETS.