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I have been vegan for two years havenít eaten meat for four years. I don't miss it at all. Since being vegan I have read and seen a lot about the factory farming industry, animal cruelty, health issues, and environmental concerns, and that's why I feel confident about my ability to stay vegan. However, I live with a meat-eater. Every day I look at what he cooks and eats, and even though I know in my head that it is gross and disgusting, it still looks and smells good to me and makes my mouth water. It bothers and embarrasses me that I canít seem to control this reaction. Other vegans seem to get physically ill at the thought, sight, or scent of meat or dairy products, yet my body still reacts positively. Whatís wrong with me?
The majority of vegans alive today were not born to vegan parents and were not raised in vegan homes. Nearly all of us grew up among meat-eaters and ate meat ourselves prior to becoming vegan. Even if we didnít care for the taste or texture of meat when we first were introduced to it, most of us learned to like it eventually. We came to associate the appearance, aroma, and taste of cooked meat with pleasurable experiences: happy occasions, pleasant times spent with family and friends, or just the physical sensations of contentment and feeling full and satisfied. Because so few of us had an early awareness of meatís origins, we didnít have to grapple with the truth about it. We simply appreciated its qualities as a food, and accepted its central role in our diets.
Becoming vegan is an intellectual process: we discover new ways of seeing the world; we logically determine how these new views suit us; we explore the practicality of revamping our lifestyle to accommodate these perspectives; and, finally, we rationally take steps to integrate them into our lives. Our body and brain, however, already have been programmed by our upbringing to involuntarily react to meat in a particular manner. Altering our intellectual perspectives about meat wonít automatically change our habituated emotional and physiological responses to it. If we liked the flavor and smell of meat before we became vegan, chances are our bodies will continue to take pleasure in these sensory stimuli reflexively, even though our knowledge of meat is enough to turn our stomachs.
Thinking that ďmeat smells goodĒ is not a vegan transgression. It makes sense that you are responding in a predictable way to the sight and aroma of a food you once enjoyed. Donít fight it. Acknowledge that these smells remind you of foods you used to eat and like. Thereís nothing wrong with that and thereís nothing to feel guilty about; you just are being truthful with yourself. Fortunately, if you find yourself hankering for these kinds of foods, you can indulge in any number of vegan mock meats that will gratify and squelch your urges. Realize that it isnít the meat your are craving but rather the comfort of familiar flavors, textures, and aromas, all of which can be replicated cruelty-free.
The longer you are vegan, the more likely your impulses toward meat will diminish. Even if they do not, donít be discouraged or ashamed. You cannot change your history, but if you regard it directly and candidly, youíll find it easier to accept and move beyond it.
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