June 30, 2017
Today is my 10-year anniversary of living meat-free. It all started with a very special book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. About 30 pages into it and I swore I’d never eat a piece of meat again, and I haven’t. Over the course of the next 6 months, I went from pescatarian, to vegetarian, to vegan. My blessings over the past decade have abounded:
- I kept off 35 of the 40 pounds I lost about 6 months prior to “giving up” meat. (I much prefer to think of it as “gaining” more plants!)
- My cholesterol (tested this week) is 136. And, my fasting blood glucose (also tested this week) is 74.
- I have gone on numerous 20-50 mile bike rides, and one 100-mile ride.
- I regularly run on an elliptical machine, participate in Zumba, UJam and yoga classes, swim 50+ laps at a time, and power walk.
- I have participated in a 10k charity race.
- I regularly hike steep, technically challenging mountains.
- I learned to surf and ride a horse.
Health and wellness aside, veganism has also led me to discover amazing new foods and experiences:
- You haven’t really lived until you’ve tried quinoa, teff, amaranth, and tofu.
- “Fake” meat isn’t really my thing, but there are some yummy options out there. Unfortunately, most of them have eggs and wheat (both no-no’s for me). Luckily, manufacturers like MorningStar and Dr. Praeger are providing ever-more vegan, gluten-free options in regular grocery stores.
- The Christian Vegetarian Association is a real thing and they love new members.
- The crockpot is the very best way to cook lentils and beans.
In addition, living vegan saves both animals and the environment. By not participating in a system that contributes massively to horrific environmental consequences (think feedlots and slaughterhouses) vegans help the world.
- Vegans save water, animals, forests, and grain, not to mention all the pollution that goes into the ground and air.
- My handy-dandy vegan calculator says that over the last (almost) decade I have saved the world 3,811,500 gallons of water, 138,600 pounds of grain, 103,950 square feet of forest, 69,300 pounds of Co2, and 3,456 animal lives. (If you would like to use this fun calculator, see here: http://thevegancalculator.com/#calculator.)
Above all, I can look at my dogs and my husband’s horse, as well as every other animal I see, in peace. (To quote Kafka, Now I can look at you in peace; I don’t eat you anymore.)
All vegans, myself included, do have to deal with the inevitable “teasing” from people who don’t understand us, and the same question over and over “how do you get your protein?” And, I’ve also been accused of not following the Bible by not eating meat, but I get that a lot just for being a liberal, so I’m used to it. In all, considering the benefits of veganism, just a few of which I’ve listed above, it’s worth the trouble.
So, after a decade of compassionate living, do I get the itch sometimes to eat meat and dairy again?
No way. No how. No why.
Eating meat is cultural – you don’t need it to survive or thrive.
Psalm 36:6 (NRSV): Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your judgments are like the great deep; you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.
Serve all with love.
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