I want a big steak. I’m just going to go ahead and say it. I am craving it, whether pregnancy related or not, and I’ve been fantasizing a little bit about a huge sliced up med-rare steak over a huge salad, maybe with some feta cheese crumbles on top.
But I’m a vegetarian, again. I’d love to say here for all of the vegetarian-hating vegans out there that I’m totally a vegan, but that my friends, would be a lie. I’ve been a vegan at various stages of my adult life, but (usually for convenience reasons, sometimes because I effing hate fake cheese), I fall right off of the compassion wagon straight into the blind-eye denial trough. People are constantly checking with us when they invite us to dinner/events, “And does Cortney have any food restrictions these days?” and it’s because I’ve flip-flopped so much. That’s sort of embarrassing. Like, choose your morals and then actually stick to them, maybe?
Going vegetarian this time around has been especially interesting because I didn’t come to this decision on my own. My five year old daughter point blank asked me to be vegetarian with her. Out of no where, she sat down in front of me and calmly said, “Mom, I would like to talk to you about not eating meat anymore.” And I said, “You don’t eat meat baby, what would you like to talk about?” And she said, “I was wondering if you would not eat meat anymore, with me.” Well how the hell do you say no to that?
I, of course, agreed and then rejoined all of my Peta-esque and ‘healthy vegan food’ Instagram pages, deleted all of my “Best Chicken Ever!” type of Pinterest boards, and have forced myself to watch some pretty horrific animal cruelty videos that I’ve come across just to reinforce the fact that I do actually fully believe in this lifestyle. The sad truth is that it is just so damn easy to turn your head and pretend that a steak is just a steak produced at the steak factory with steak ingredients grown from the steak ingredient garden. As a whole, Society actually encourages this thought process. The so-called-truth spreading vegan is the real enemy here people; she’s trying to take away your perfectly humane steak for no reason!
Meat is an easy one to recognize and avoid. Chicken soft tacos? No thanks! “Is there meat in that lasagna? Yes? Oh ok, no thanks!” And everyone seems pretty ok with that. Something about no dairy or eggs really puts people on edge, and no one likes being the pain-in-the-butt guest who won’t eat anything. I think that’s when I’ve fallen off the vegan train most frequently, when someone offers to have us over and because I don’t eat meat they plan to serve pizza (or some pasta & cheese thing). I love pizza and pasta, and I so appreciate people’s efforts to accommodate my restrictions, so I say it’s all good. I am also super paranoid about people using dairy products or eggs (or chicken stock for that matter) and then lying to me about it “Oh don’t worry there’s no butter in the pasta”, etc, and then laughing about it later, that I try to be Joe Cool and pretend I don’t even care. It’s lame, I admit it, but it’s one of my hang ups that I let ruin me at times.
My face breaks out badly when I have dairy too often, and the growing occurrence of friends and family diagnosing themselves as “lactose intolerant” have really convinced me that dairy isn’t necessary in a human diet, nor is it even good for you. It really just comes down to convenience. No it’s not good for me, and no I don’t like where it comes from or how, but 10 minute take out pizza sounds way better than me cooking up barley, lentils, and kale (I’m not being facetious, this is one of my family’s favorite concoctions – maybe I’ll share my recipe/process sometime). One of the main motivators for me to kick dairy is that I nursed my babies. Imagining an alternate reality where I would be prevented from doing so is heart wrenching. Videos of the babies being taken from their mother’s moments after birth also haunt me.
Eggs can be a bit harrier, with it really coming down to the gross factor. Eggs are literally a chicken’s ovulation that gets spat out of it’s butt. Seriously, I just learned this, chicken’s only have one “vent” where poop, urine (though, not liquid apparently), and eggs all exit. Of course the mistreatment of egg laying hens is rampant, and male chicks are also killed immediately and violently (thrown live in a grinder for use in animal feed), simply because there is no demand or need for them in the egg industry.
It’s so easy to look at dairy and eggs as by-products of a horrible industry instead of the “meat” of it. It’s so easy to crack an egg to use in a Standard American Diet (SAD) recipe, instead of measuring out the flaxseed meal and soaking it in water, and know that your recipe isn’t going to turn out awful.
Something sort of wonderful happened recently, my mother-in-law decided to raise chickens for eggs. Now, that’s not really vegan but she swears all of her chickens are “pardoned” and that she won’t kill any of them after they stop producing. Assuming she’s true to her word, I don’t really care if she eats their eggs. But back to what’s wonderful about that is that we get to go over and help care for them. We bring them our veggie-scraps and cuddle them while we’re there. Yesterday one of her baby chicks (they are about 6 weeks old) fell asleep in my arms while I stroked it’s little head and neck. When I went to sit it back down on the ground, it’s legs were limp and they laid sideways, I assumed this meant it just didn’t want to stand, it wanted to be held more. I gave it a little more love and then it stood up just fine the second time I placed it on the ground. She calls that one “Pepe”, I think because it looks a bit like salt & pepper. Anyway, I plan to steal Pepe. (Joking.) But being able to be near them, feed them, and even bond with a few of them help me to put a face to the meals I could be eating. I wouldn’t eat Gertrude or Pepe, and I don’t want to eat any of the others either. With that said, I don’t want to eat those eggs either, because I can see the butts they came out of, and the fact that she also has a rooster about. No eyeballs in my eggs, please and thank you.
I guess you can tell I’m really struggling with just doing with what I know is right (for me). It only comes down to a struggle with convenience, and that’s sort of sick, isn’t it?
All of this to say:
To any vegans this offends, I truly am sorry. Reading stuff like this (about people struggling with being vegan, or people struggling with even just eating healthfully) when I was more hardcore offended me too and I thought those people were whiny and lacked conviction. The goal is to become 100% vegan, and in the meantime we’re feeling proud that we’ve removed all forms of meat from our diets. I salute you and your efforts! Thank you for being a shining example of compassion and truly “walking your talk”!
To aspiring vegans & vegetarians, don’t lose heart. Sometimes we lose perspective when we’re on our A-game and other people are still working towards finding theirs. Sometimes all or nothing doesn’t work for everyone. I am of the belief that something is better than nothing, and any step you make in the right direction is still a good and noble step all on it’s own. The best thing you can do to find your next right step is to just get informed, be open, and check your heart.
To everyone else, this post may or may not resonate with you and that’s ok! Also, please don’t feel judged if you’re not on this type of journey at all. I am way more concerned with what is and isn’t currently on my plate that I swear I am not even looking at yours! Trust me when I say, it’s all good!
I once said that I could never be vegetarian, and would never even consider being vegan and that turned out to not be true. I have also said that I would never eat meat again in my life, and that also wasn’t true. It hasn’t been a smooth journey, or even a remotely straight road for me, but I’m willing to admit that I’m not perfect and my efforts have not been perfect either. But, I am continually working towards becoming a better human, even if I’ve regrettably jumped off of that path at various times over the years. Right this second, I’m a solid vegetarian working towards removing all of those yucky conveniences out of my life that come at the expense of God’s beautiful creatures. I’ve been trying a lot of new products as I find them, many of which I hate (grocery store avocado sushi, I’m looking at you, you mushy mess) but a few I’ve really enjoyed (hello Beyond Burger, can you move closer to me please?). I also know from experience that I truly love amazing, fresh, vegan food. It’s simply a matter of raising my standards and going for quality over convenience. It’s also honestly about practice; doing well once, and then doing it again and again until it’s just habit.
So yea, maybe I do really want a huge steak salad, but I’m not eating one, and that counts for something… right?