Thursday, May 3, 2012

Well, I Can Eat It. I Just Don't Want To!

So it’s been over a year since I gave up meat and dairy and went vegan, pretty much cold... turkey? tofu? After doing quite some reading and research about vegan lifestyle, one day, to be exact – Valentine’s Day 2011 – I decided to quit eating anything that comes from animals and try to adopt a vegan lifestyle. I didn’t set any goals and I had no expectations. I decided to go one week, at the time and see what happens. Today I am proud to say that I have been vegan for almost 15 months and I am very happy about that. This feels like a huge accomplishment. Born and raised in Poland – the country of meat and potatoes, just few years ago when I met my first vegan ever, I was astounded and I just couldn’t possibly imagine what did she eat. It seemed impossible to live without meat and dairy. Every meal for past twenty, ok, thirty something years evolved around some kind of a meat and I just couldn’t wrap it around my brain how else I could function. This was how I was raised, this is what my family did. That’s how we lived. My uncle had a farm, and the first five years of my life were on that farm. We lived at the farm while my dad was building the new house. My uncle had pigs, cows and chickens at the farm. Ever since I remember before holidays, I would hear them talk about this big weekend when they would kill the pig and make it into a meat and sausages, so we can eat it for few months. And even though this was the more compassionate way of killing, no factory farming, pigs were nice and fat from eating potatoes and greens, not genetically modified corn, I still felt little disturbed about this whole thing. I was a child, and pigs were cute and funny, and I really didn’t like that they had to kill them so we can have pork chops for dinner. As we moved to our new home, and I grow up I stopped thinking about that. Never really imagined a different way of life, never really thought of those poor pigs, cows and chickens that had to be killed just so we can eat them for dinner.

Why is it ok to eat them? Why do we do it? There is always the same answer from people like I used to be, from people that try to tell themselves that it’s ok to eat meat, because that’s how they were raised and this is what humans do, and human needs animal protein to live. Why is it ok to eat a pig but not ok to eat a cat? How is that different? Every time I ask this question, people get confused and just say – it’s not the same. We raise pigs to eat them and cat’s to love them! How is that fair? One deserves to be in your bed, cuddling with you and the other deserves to be on your dinner plate??? How is it different? Just because humans did it for ages, it doesn’t make it right! They are both animals, living and breathing beings that are smart, can feel the pain and have emotions. How are they different?

Since I become vegan I feel stronger connection with other living beings. I feel like we should be more compassionate and closer to nature, to care for others, not just human but other beings. Just because we were raised this way, doesn’t mean that we can’t change and become more sensitive to cruelty and respectful of other lives. I hope that one day we will get to the point where meat will no longer be a staple of American kitchen, and human realize that there are better ways of living, and that we can share the planet with other species without killing and eating them.  People often look at me as I was depriving myself something that is so great, something that they can’t live without. And that is usually is followed with a comment like: “Oh, right, you can’t eat that!” – well, I can eat it, I just don’t want to! I choose not to! I made a choice of cruelty free living, I like what I eat, and like that I no longer wear leather shoes. I will not buy a sweater that has rabbit hair in it, I use cruelty free cosmetics! I changed my life, I choose to be better! I choose to care!  And I love every minute of it! I am proud to be vegan!

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