My first experience with Veganism was a cupcake recipe my sister-in-law sent me in the mail. My dad’s comment was “normal cupcakes don’t have meat?” He obviously had no clue what being vegan meant.
When I tell people that we are vegan, I get this weird puzzled look, like “where do you get your protein from when you only eat Salad?” I figure that’s a clear sign that most omnivores have never thought more of the vegetable than frozen peas or a salad. Maybe that’s a big assumption, but I know that is exactly how I thought.
I think another obstacle is weird ingredients, honestly, tofu still scares me a lot. We have all had a bad tofu experience. Nutritional Yeast looks like fish food to me, and I didn’t even know where to begin to find it. Now it’s just a common everyday food item. Soy milk is not a milk substitute, its a non dairy beverage that can be used in recipe’s but I still wouldn’t dip my cookie into it.
Of course I am familiar with some odd ingredient, previous to being vegan, I had tasted insects and even contemplated where I would source my insects for my cooking. So when I brought my chocolate coffee coconut cupcakes to a women’s weekend with my church the first question I was asked was “Are their bugs in it?” I was trying to avoid the Vegan word because I think sometimes people get weirded out by it (see above). I assured them that no animals were harmed in making them, but since they didn’t think insects counted and I was just being sneaky, they persisted in asking. I finally said they are vegan, no butter, no egg, no milk. Of course then they thought they were tofu with chocolate frosting, so needless to say I got to take several of them home to enjoy myself.
As much as food is about enjoyment, I think there is a place for putting aside our “appetites”. Practicing an area of self control, something vegans are familiar with everyday. I miss a gooey melty cheese, but I don’t miss supporting a cruel commercial milk production. I miss being able to stop and grab a snack from 7-11 but I don’t miss all the unhealthy junk I would have consumed. I am not saying I am enlightened or perfect and how saintly I am that I am giving up eating animals and animal products, I am saying life is about more than appetite, it’s about more than thinking of our own desires and what we want and serving ourselves.
Originally I didn’t know where the journey of Veganism would go for us. We started a three week trial to be healthier, and since then the creativity of food has opened up to me, and ingredients I wouldn’t have tried are now on the menu. We are thinking about a global society, how our choices affect animals, and other human beings and the world we live in. We aren’t passing judgement on others, and if our choice makes you feel bad, maybe you should explore why you feel this way instead of blaming us. Everybody needs to make the choice on how they will live their life. I am saddened by how blind I was to the effect of my choices, for so long I didn’t want to think about the connection between a slab of beef on Styrofoam in plastic wrap and a confined cow and a large commercial farm that feeds who knows what to these cows and then dumps the waste of the whole process into our environment. I haven’t done a lot of research and that’s what bothers me, it doesn’t take too much digging to find there is more to the story than what the dairy industry, what the meat industry have been feeding us literally and figuratively.
When I was 16 I went into the hospital with severe abdominal pain, after much testing and missing heaps of school, it turns out it was gall bladder disease, and my gall bladder was full of stones, the doctors said, “It’s hereditary, your mom had her gall bladder removed…” I didn’t know any better, I was 16, I ate salad for a month while I awaited surgery, and my health improved, by the time of surgery I wondered if I even needed surgery at all, but I was trusting the doctors. I often wonder if we had eaten a diet rich in plants and plant products instead of meat and animal products if things would have been different. My mom is recovering from Breast Cancer, her mom died of complications from Cancer, I want to stop the cycle. Dad’s side isn’t much better, heart attacks and bowel ailments, my dad the guy that thinks a meal isn’t a meal unless there is some kind of animal on the plate. There has got to be something to this. As we talk of starting a family, I want the best health for me and my husband and our children, I want them to have a fighting chance.