So, I got my blood test results back from the doctor today. Turns out both my iron and vitamin B12 levels are excellent! I’ve been (ovo-lacto) vegetarian for 8 years and people constantly feel this need to ask about my nutrition. As a result, I get a kick out of telling them my nutrition levels are good! (Take that nosy bastards! I find it ridiculous that people who are only my acquaintances somehow think this is a good conversation topic.)
The two concerns my doctor had are my vitamin D levels are very low (need to supplement on a daily basis) and he wants me to watch my cholesterol. The latter works well in my intentions to start going vegan, eliminating sources of cholesterol from my diet. I have a family history of problems with cholesterol, so this is more of a concern. Also, I’m starting to look into buying a bike so I can get more activity & Victoria is just the ideal city for bike riding.
So, I’ve decided I’m going to try it out for a week. I’m going to start on 24 February 2012 and commit for a full week to start off (so until 2 March 2012). I figure this will be soon enough to capitalize on my motivation, but still give me time to plan ahead. It’s also less daunting of a commitment to start off with a week.
I’ve been vegetarian (ovo-lacto) since I was 13 (8.5 years ago) but never tried going vegan. Although, I have at points given up either eggs or dairy but never both.
I’m going to do this with my fluid moral code in mind, recognizing that I am fallible and will probably make mistakes. I think this will help me stay motivated and not feel so bad when I fail to live up to my own expectations.
I’ve decided to write out my reasons, this is going to be a lengthy personal post. While writing this, it strikes me that I’m writing this more for myself to better articulate my ideas. But I appreciate it if you do read it. :)
It turns out to have been a great exercise in self-empowerment and I’m extremely happy to have done this. The last point has really hit home why I cannot give up on vegetarianism.
First, practically speaking my lactose intolerance is becoming unbearable (currently I’m suffering the combined efforts of yogurt and milky chai - my stomach absolutely hates me right now).
Second, I have been reminded of my ethical reasons for becoming vegetarian in the first place. I use to always tell myself that once I moved out, I could more fully embrace my ethics but now that I am living on my own, I haven’t really made the effort yet. I’m decidedly against the abusive treatment of animals. It’s just absolutely cruel. While more ethical animal produce may be possible, it strikes me that current meat demands would not be met without a factory-like manufacturing of animals. So even if animal produce can be ethically sourced (I haven’t decided whether or not I think it can be), I think people would have to reduce how much meat they consume.
Moreover, the global meat demands and on-going food crises are both inextricably linked. The recession in 2008 led to the media generally ignoring the global food crisis but right before it a big deal was made about the growing international food crises (and it continues to be a serious problem). One of the explanatory factors is the linkage between economic growth in China and India, the resulting increased demand for meat there, and the ramifications on the global food markets. The idea is that as Indian and Chinese citizens have more financial resources, they are demanding more meat, the production of which is generally more resource-heavy than vegetables. This thesis need a bit more work, but essentially it relates to the fact that meat demands globally are too great to be met properly (sustainably and humanely). This leads to both excessively inhumane treatment of animals but also to inaccessibility of food for the globally impoverished. I’ll articulate it better at a later date with more evidence to support my claims. It’s a fairly complicated entanglement of colonialism, economics, and poverty.
Third, I want to make more of an effort to cook and the thought of going vegan both provides ample reason to cook more often & a new creative paradigm.
Fourth, I adore the Tumblogs with vegan #foodporn. I keep having vegan wet dreams as a result of the amazing deliciousness. I was considering giving up vegetarianism earlier this year, which I think largely had to do with a certain degree of boredom and laziness. But I feel inspired to try harder.
Fifth, the thought of eating animal flesh is really off-putting, especially after so long. I have only on 3 distinct occasions had meat cravings: first, when I first became a vegetarian, my brother and dad were eating chicken wings; second, I was hungry at lunchtime and passed someone eating some meat; third, the past few months I’ve been on-again-and-off-again having chicken cravings. I think I just haven’t tried hard enough to make more deliciousness but a recent serving of deep-fried seitan has really shut off the chicken cravings. That and we have a new pet budgie and the thought of eating a bird is so horrible - especially as I love the budgie, even though he doesn’t seem to like my singing very much (tbh, I don’t blame him).
Sixth, I feel like it is a part of my identity. I have spent a good chunk of my life as a vegetarian, particularly all my life that involved making independent-choices. I also remember how many times I have stood up for what I believe in. My father called me a loser when I decided to become vegetarian (yes at 13 he said that to me) and told me I would never become a doctor because I wouldn’t be able to deal with cutting people up (yes, very illogical - and little did he know, I thoroughly enjoying tearing people apart…but with words and am well on my way to doing it as a lawyer). I also was bullied in junior high over it. I remember my classmates in grade 9 saying really stupid shit to me. I recall one of them saying to me “So what do you eat? Tofu? That’s nasty shit” or something equally idiotic. I’ve also repeatedly had to put my foot down to various family members trying to tell me what I should or should not eat (if I say I don’t want to have the sauce from the butter chicken, I think you shouldn’t insist on it).
I have on so many occasions refused to let someone shame or force or convince me into giving up being a vegetarian. It’s almost an element of my feminist beliefs. It’s been an exercise of personal choice and resistance against being told what to do with my body. I don’t think I have ever fully captured this and having reached this realization has made me quite moved (I’m honestly teary-eyed, so apologies for any grammar/spelling errors that I leave here). It also helps me understand why I struggled so hard with the idea of giving up vegetarianism. My identity and sense of self is such an integral part of who I am and the more I think about it, I have worked really hard to define myself and to fight for independence. I cannot even convey in words how empowered I feel right now. It’s incredible how assertive I have been and I don’t think I want to ever lose this part of me, especially now that I have been able to articulate it. I’m really glad I took the time to write this down and have it here to remind me.
Edited: I realized I may not have this clear. Most of the people trying to convince me out of vegetarianism have been men (incidentally even the kids bullying me were of the outward male persuasion). So there are clear gendered hierarchies.
I also don’t mean to entail anything about vegetarianism and feminism as inherently linked. It’s just my personal experience and it has strengthened my convictions on both.