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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Perfectionism

I grew up with a very anal-retentive mother. She is the kind of person that has to have everything in a certain place--no dust in the house and no clutter. I am very grateful to her for showing me how to be organized, but sometimes I wonder if I take it too far, as she often does. Now that I'm a grown woman with my own home, I find myself putting things "in their place." However, I don't clean nearly as much. A little dirt doesn't bother me, and my mother would be horrified to come over and see my place at times.

One thing that I always longed for when I was growing up was an animal companion to take care of. My mother, being the way she is, wouldn't let me even keep the goldfish I won at the county fair, much less a furry, shedding cat or dog. Needless to say, as soon as I got my own apartment when I turned eighteen, I went to the shelter and adopted a cat. Pretty soon that turned into three cats, then came the ferrets, iguanas, dogs, and more. Anyway, as you can see, I had begun my love affair with animals. So, I guess you could say that my mother's perfectionism just made my need for animals in my life stronger.

I have been vegetarian off and on since the age of sixteen. Wanting to make a difference in the world, I decided that this would be a good place to start. Several years later, I started reading books on vegetarianism, thus finding out about veganism. From then on my life has changed drastically.

Not knowing any other vegetarians, much less vegans, I went about trying to rid my life of all possible animal suffering. However, my mother's perfectionism started showing through, because it started becoming an obsession with me. I didn't want anything that came from an animal in my house, including anything that belonged to my husband. He had decided to become vegan with me, but was taking a much more gradual approach to it. He didn't want to get rid of certain things that meant something to him just because they were made of leather. I didn't understand. I just wanted a perfect vegan household.

Although this certainly wasn't the only factor in our divorce, I now realize that it certainly didn't help. I expected perfection from of both of us when becoming vegan. Instead of seeing veganism as something that is always evolving, I saw it as a perfect ideal to attain. So, after the split, I became quite depressed and let my veganism slip. I guess I just couldn't take the pressure I was putting on myself along with the pressures of divorce, moving, and changing jobs.

After my life became stable again, I realized that something didn't feel quite right, and I knew what it was. I didn't feel at peace without veganism in my life. However, this time I did it the right way. I now realize that this is a journey, and that there will be different paths I can choose, not one straight, perfect one. I don't demand that my boyfriend gets rid of his leather shoes, and I don't preach to him when he eats some cheese now and then. I am content that he has gone from a big time omni to a vegetarian that is very close to being vegan. I also am not so demanding on myself that I become obsessed with every item in my life. Instead of ripping through all my possessions over and over again trying to find something that isn't vegan, I relax and read a good book.

Now, if anyone asks me about veganism, I tell them that it is not about attaining a certain level of perfectionism. I believe that it is about making the best choices you can in life and forgiving yourself when you make the wrong one at times. This time, my veganism is here to stay!

Molly A.
Wisconsin

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