Pages var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-1743

Sunday, February 5, 2012

: ask a vegan : week 2 : my vegan journey :

hey everybody!
last sunday, i kicked off a new feature called 'ask a vegan'.
each sunday, i will be answering a question about veganism.
you can read more about it here.

last week, my cute friend [zumba] tiff [remember this post about her?] asked me ; 
why are you vegan?!
so, i thought that would be a good place to start. ;)
i think a lot of folks define 'being vegan' differently & i want to tell you my story and where i stand.

this feature is so important to me, because in the past year or so 'being vegan' has really become a buzzword.
i think a lot of folks still think of PETA as 'what vegan looks like.'
i know that graphic imagery and guilting people [read : throwing red paint!] works for some, but it isnt what i stand for.

i am doing this series because i know people have questions. i strongly believe in healthy living and positive body image. i think that if we give people tools and information, they can make small changes to modify their lives.

i will never tell you that you shouldnt EVER eat a string cheese, a milk shake or a turkey burger again. i wont tell you that you are a killer and bad things will happen to you.

i think we can all benefit from a bit more fruit and a few less hot dogs [i use to eat 3-6 hots dogs a week,  cold from the package when i was a kid][sorry mom!]. i think a lot of folks think that 'vegan' means eating mock duck, tofu on EVERYTHING and never again eating dessert.

i dont eat mock duck. in fact, i dont eat any fake meat at all. a few times a year, i will use fake cheese or tofu, but i prefer my foods to be as natural as possible. and please, i LOVE dessert. if you go through these recipes, you will see that i never skimp on the sweet stuff.

so, lets get to my story, shall we? 
well, i was born in southern minnesota, small town [13,000].
my parents? crafty, creative and sustainable.
i grew up recycling, eating straight from the garden and garage sale-ing with my mom.
my moms grandma taught her to sew when she was a kid. my mom made a bunch of my clothes and could fix any hole and zipper.
my dads mom ran a re-sale shop out of her garage 6 months a year.
my dad?
a butcher. [seriously]
when i was a kid, my parents took me fishing all the time. i loved it. after they split, fishing became the one 'thing' my dad and i did together. i have so many amazing memories of getting up at 4am to fish for bass. getting my line stuck. jumping in the lake to help push the boat on the trailer. learning to fillet fish. and eating them was my favorite. my dad makes the best fish in the world. deep fried and breaded. still to this day, when we go to my dads, if he makes fish, i will always have a piece. fishing is the one thing that connected us for so many years of my life.

what about the butchering?
well, my dad is one of the fastest butchers in minnesota. when hogs or beef got hurt in the middle of the night, my dad was called to shoot and butcher them. when i was little, i use to go into the pen and watch. i loved it. loved watching him and i thought it was so amazing.

little diana holding dead pheasants ; yes theres a toilet in the basement!

hes also a hunter. deer. moose. elk. pheasant. geese. ducks.
working at a meat market meant that my dad worked 80 hour weeks during deer season.
deer season? its the time that minnesota/wisconsin/dakota/iowa folks hunt for deer and the time it takes to process the meat [starts in november and lasts til the new year-ish]
he would skin the deer, process it [turn it into meat] and we would freeze it to eat year-round.
it was not uncommon to have dead deer hanging in our garage during deer season.
[i have a picture of this somewhere, but i cant find it!]

i grew up eating farmer style [ring sausage], pork chops, hamburger, fish and venison [deer meat].
the smell of a smokehouse still smells amazing to me. reminds me of my dad coming home from work.

my first job?
working at a meat market. i did it for a couple years. packaged meat, worked the counter, handled raw burger.
loved it.

lets fast forward to 2008. still drinking a gallon of milk a week [by myself!!] and eating animals.
one weekend, i got terribly sick. i mean it. cramps. tears. ridiculous pain.
long story short, i had become intolerant to dairy. so i cut back. still snuck ice cream and chocolate cake, but replaced milk with soy milk.
over time, the intolerance became worse.
its at the point now, that if i would eat a stick of string cheese, it would be a bad time [for everybody!!]

around the same time, i went through a [rough] breakup and stopped cooking for two.
it was harder to make ham/turkeyburgers for one when you have a pound of meat.
i didnt really love the taste of meat, did not enjoy touching the juices and it was hard to use by myself.
i would still eat meat if i went out. and i ate eggs every morning for breakfast.

spring of 2010. blake and i had just moved in together, living in portland, oregon.
i was still able to eat cheese and greek yogurt and digest fairly well. i was eating tons and tons and tons of greek yogurt.
around the same time, i read 'the face on your plate.' i remember reading about the 'real' process of how cows are treated for milk & yogurt and i started bawling. and that was that. no more cheese. yogurt. none of it. i could not believe what I was doing to these poor cows [who totally have feelings, by the way!!] so i stopped.

and that was how my vegan journey began. living in portland, it was a super easy transition. most places offer vegan options and those who dont are always willing to work with you.
minneapolis on the other hand ; not so much. hopefully, soon. but right now, not yet.

blake will still eat meat and dairy if we are out, but he will only eat grass fed, local, sustainable meat.
we dont keep meat in the house, but blake will buy organic yogurt, cheese and eggs.

is it hard to live with an animal eater?
its not. i have lived with animal eaters my entire life. im not out to change & scold the world. blake makes smart 'meat' choices and i respect that.
my mom has modified her food habits, too. she uses whole wheat flour & noodles and will always try the 'weirdo' foods blake and i bring home ;)
and as for my dad?
well, this guy would totally win 'survivor'. i have no problem with him living [and eating] the way he does. he goes out with his gun and sustainably hunts an animal. he kills it. skins and butchers it himself. he then processes the meat [my uncle runs a smokehouse] himself.
he stores it and eats it throughout the year.

my issue with meat?
the big corporations that do terrible things to animals. the feed that is packed FULL of nasty chemicals that the animals [and we!!] dont need. the animals consume this feed to fatten them up. then we eat the animals that have eaten the chemicals. our children eat this meat! 

this series is to give you a few more options that you have already.
i will be back with tips on saving money while vegan, beauty products that are animal-free and easy [and affordable] replacements for some of your favorite foods.

thanks for reading. i know it was a long one.

and how about you?
[if you are a blog lurker that doesnt leave comments, i want to hear from you!]
what do you want to know?