Baby Vegan

January 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

I never kill spiders. Now, this isn’t because of some moral urge not to kill spiders; it’s because when I see one, all the hairs on the back of my neck go “EEEEEEEEKKK!” and before I am even consciously aware, I have done some crazy acrobatic gymnastic never-before-seen move that propels me to the other side of the room. (Please don’t read into the previous sentence to forever imagine me as someone with a hairy neck because it was simply a statement of my intense cowardice.)

Then I met a boy who doesn’t kill spiders either, but he doesn’t kill spiders because he lovingly scoops them up and sets them free outside out of respect for all animal kind even when I’m internally (perhaps even externally??) screaming KILLITKILLITKILLITKILLITNOWWWWWW. eugghghhbleah spiders. I was dating a real live VEGAN.

Now before you gasp and shake your head in disapproval and say that I changed everything about myself for a guy (albeit a very good looking one), that really isn’t the case. From the get go, he always said I could keep my omnivorous lifestyle, and that veganism was his own personal choice. Which was good, because if he said that I had to give up meat for him, I would have stubbornly pointed my stubby nose in the air and ignored him forever and probably eaten meat just to spite him. But even before that point, I was already at a crossroads with what to eat and not eat. (If you remember a couple of blog posts ago, I had written a short and now embarrassing blurb about my sad attempts to be vegetarian.)

I had the weirdest eating schedule, which in retrospect was made only to assuage my guilt about eating meat and actually made it harder for me to become vegetarian. I thought I might slowly make the transition by eating meat only twice a week, and then being vegetarian the other five days. I slowly changed that to eating meat once a week, being vegetarian for five days, and being vegan for one. Not only did this make it impossible for anyone to actually know what I ate, but every time I ate meat I would become slightly sick and queasy because I was so used to not eating meat! To top off the irony, the fact that I still ate meat once a week made it seem like a prize, something to be worked towards…the exact opposite of what I was trying to achieve!

Oh, how ridiculous I was being! Eating dinner next to this bona fide vegan only pointed out the inconsistencies of my absurd methods of trying to lessen the guilt while still being able to eat meat. It was a quiet sort of presence, a silent power. It was a reminder that not only was reducing animal suffering POSSIBLE, but that someone close to me was doing that every day, from a remarkably simple choice. It suddenly turned vegetarianism/veganism into an option that was both accessible and more and more delightful.

So, I’m a vegan now. Biggest opposition? Myself. My path to veganism was lined with the rocks of EXCUSES! and DENIAL! and BARGAINING! I fought it tooth and nail every single step of the way, only to make it out on top thinking that it was so much better and why was I even fighting it? (I’m just exceedingly stubborn sometimes just to prove a point, which really makes it so much worse when I finally accept that I was in the wrong.)

Won’t I miss the flavor of it? I could lie and say no, but for a while, I will. I’m banking on the fact that every vegan I’ve met is completely grossed out with even the idea of  eggs and milk and meat, and in time I will feel equally grossed out. And hey, with my Cantonese upbringing, I had my time and more than my fair share of experiences with meat…I’ve eaten frogs, duck tongue, shark, snake, liver, blood, knuckle, chicken feet, ox tail, intestines, and brain. Yup, Chinese people eat everything.

In fact, I find that one of the reasons that veganism is appealing to me is that I was too good at cooking with meat and dairy and cheese. I never had to think, and so I never had to invent anything or use creativity…nothing was a challenge, and I hadn’t had a cooking disaster in year. (When I first started cooking vegan, I made stuff that was so embarrassing I would choke it all down just so no one else would see the terrible failure.) Cooking was boring! Everything had already been done! Veganism opened me up to a whole new world of cooking. You know how omnivores can do a million things with eggs? Well, vegans can do a bajillion things with nuts! Seriously, we’ve got cheesecakes and ice cream and stir frys and lasagnas and crackers and brie and so many other fun and inventive and interesting things…just from nuts. It makes me look at food with a fresher and more wide eyed perspective; it’s been a more opening experience than closing.

I’m quite happy about my choice. However, I understand that it is a choice that everyone has to come to in their own time and terms, and I will not try to convert you in any way except feeding you with my delicious vegan food.

And later I will put up a lot of sketches of cute baby animals.

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