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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Money

Until about six months ago I was obsessed with money. Not in an outward way, it wasn't really obvious to anyone but me. I would start to mildly panic if I left the house with less than twenty dollars in my wallet. I couldn't really put my finger on where this fear came from, but it's been with me most of my life.

I grew up in a family of five, and there wasn't very much money to go around. The only times we got anything "special" or went out to eat were holidays. I remember children at school thinking I was insane for getting an eight-dollar Christmas present, when they had hundreds of dollars worth of toys. I should have let these experiences show me the true value of these holidays and that material possessions were just that -- but I didn't. I let feelings of jealousy and materialism fester within me, so that by the time my family actually had some money to go around I had been changed. I would strive to always have money in my pocket; I had no problem with working long hours when I was sixteen, as long as I got money. I was never really greedy or thrifty with my money. I would often spend large amounts on friends and family, but I was always sure that I would have some left over; I could never be without. If I was low on money I would sell CDs or videogames to get more, even if I had no immediate need for it. Money truly dictated how much fun I would have, where I would go, and what I would do.

This all changed in mid-summer of this past year. I can't really remember the day it changed, or even what really brought about the change, but one day it was just different. I found a particular disgust for material items that I had cherished for so long. Expensive jackets rarely worn, videogames rarely played, I found them distasteful and almost shaming. The first step I took was getting rid of all my videogames. My first impulse was to sell them in the paper, but then I realized this would not only defeat my purpose, but I would most likely procrastinate until the urge had passed. I decided to give them to some of my old roommates as early Christmas gifts, and they loved them. The next step I took was to stop buying things so carelessly. It was not a decision to be thrifty really, more of a decision just to evaluate my spending habits more intensively and objectively. I still spent a lot of money on CDs and musical equipment, but I stopped buying trinkets and things that caught my eye for a second.

About this time I switched from an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet to a vegan diet. With this choice came new quandaries: what should I do with all of my old animal products? After thinking it over I decided to donate all of them to a thrift store run by a no-kill animal shelter. Some of the animal goods I got rid of were the hardest to part with. I had a leather jacket I had worn throughout high school, and I had painted things all over it. I also had a very expensive long wool overcoat, which was the "pride of my closet." All the way to the thrift store I had a difficult time just thinking about donating it. I found I was angry at myself for these feelings. It was just a jacket; I could buy another one with my next paycheck. I hadn't even paid for the jacket; it was given to me as a gift.

In retrospect, I'm glad I cleaned out my room and my closet. I no longer have to pay homage to clothing and possessions every time I enter my room. I feel a lot more freedom now, as if a yoke has been lifted. Now, anytime I feel like holding on to something, I try and give it away. I'm tired of being chained by monetary and sentimental worth. That said, I think money is no longer really a problem for me. Of course, I still make money, and I still spend money, but now I am in control, not the other way around.

Andrew O.
Colorado

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