Vegan Deli

Vegan Deli  by Jo Stepaniak

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Raising Vegetarian Children
by Jo Stepaniak, M.S.Ed., & Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.

Raising Vegetarian Children

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Gratitude

I took a reflective moment the other night to celebrate the end of my third month as a vegan, and it occurred to me that I had a lot to be grateful for.

I had never expected veganism to be easy. I thought it would be a horrible deprivation, a major sacrifice that I was accepting only because my conscience told me I must. I'd given up meat almost overnight 20 years ago and never missed it. In fact, in an odd sort of way I occasionally felt guilty that it had been so easy for me when many vegetarians I knew had struggled and sacrificed. But dairy -- CHEESE -- that was something else. Apart from chocolate (yep, milk chocolate), cheese was probably my favourite food in the world.

I'd thought many times over the past few years of going vegan. I admired people who'd been able to take that step and knew deep inside that it was the right thing to do. But the enormity of what I'd have to give up always seemed too great to contemplate. And I'll admit to a slight resentment towards those self-righteous (as I saw it) vegans who insisted that eating eggs and dairy was no different to eating meat. I just didn't quite get it. I made sure always to buy free range eggs and, after all, milking didn't kill the cow. Sure I knew that neither industry was ideal from the animal's point of view, but somehow I managed to salve my conscience.

Then in August I bought Gary Francione's "Rain Without Thunder" at an Animal Liberation auction. It wasn't even my first choice; the things I really wanted sold out of my price range, but I wanted to buy something to show my support. Well, that book hit me like a ton of bricks. I'm still not sure I agree 100% with all Gary's thoughts on activism, but it was immediately clear to me that if I accepted his belief that animals should not be treated as property, then there was no room for ambiguity on the question of eating them or their products. In clear and simple language he exposed all the vague misgivings and uncertainties I'd been feeling, and for the first time I really understood, not just on an intellectual level but with a deep and non-negotiable certainty, why eating meat and eating dairy were inseparable. Before I was halfway through the book I knew that however much I might hate the idea, there was only one way forward for me. Over the next few weeks I phased out dairy and undertook the dreaded task of telling family and friends, and by September I was vegan.

So on a straightforward level, I'm grateful to Gary Francione, without whom I probably would have struggled for a lot longer. But on a deeper level, I'm not sure where to direct the gratitude I feel, except perhaps to the universe, for one of those amazing tricks of fate that transformed an expected ordeal into a gift. You see, going vegan not only WAS easy, it was the best thing I could have done for myself.

Although I've managed to control my weight fairly well and technically have never had an eating disorder, it's been many years since I felt in control around food. I was addicted to sweet things, notably chocolate, and craved them constantly. Almost every day was a familiar pattern of stuffing myself with sugary, unhealthy food, then feeling sick and regretful and vowing I'd have more willpower next time. Only I never did. Occasionally I managed to break this pattern for a week or even two, but the maddening cravings never went away. Never that is, until now. Not from the moment I finally went vegan, but from the moment I made the decision to do so. It didn't immediately make sense to me, but now I think that all I needed to do was find an incentive greater than myself. Willpower no longer entered into it; it was just something that had to be done. I've found plenty of delicious (if expensive) vegan chocolate, but the urgency is gone. I can enjoy it in moderation and no longer have to berate myself for my weakness. Within 10 days of giving them up, I couldn't remember what milk and eggs tasted like and had no desire for them. Somewhere in the middle of the second month it occurred to me--with a feeling almost of awe--that I hadn't thought of cheese in nearly a week.

I'm not religious in the traditional sense (if anything I believe in a life force of the universe rather than a personal god), but I can't help feeling that gratitude is owed to someone or something for the sense of peace that's come over me in the last three months, the certainty that my life is on the right path, and the way that other seemingly unconnected problems in my little world suddenly seem less important because of it. There's no turning back now, and against all expectations, that thought makes me incredibly happy.

Janet D.
Australia

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Copyright © 1998-2014 by Jo Stepaniak   All rights reserved.
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Copyright © 1998-2014 by Jo Stepaniak   All rights reserved.
Nothing on this web site may be reproduced in any way
without express written permission from the copyright holder.

 
 

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