Happy Valentine's Day!
In our kitchen window sits a little black sign with white lettering that reads "I LOVE YOU MORE THAN BACON."
I bought the sign after Greg and I saw it in a little shop on Cape Cod. At the time, there was very little I loved more than bacon. I loved bacon so much I had started frying up two pieces of it each morning to eat with an egg and toast, even on week days. I bought the best, most expensive, antibiotic free, nitrate free, hopefully slightly humane bacon that money could buy, and I loved it.
More and more though, I started to notice that when I ate lots of sugary or greasy foods, I didn't run as well. I ran slower, it was harder, I enjoyed it less.
Then one of my friends recommended a book to me, Superfood Smoothies by Julie Morris. She told me that her kids drank the chocolate kale smoothie like it was a milkshake. I bought it, and my bacon and egg breakfasts started to be replaced by whole foods smoothies, with protein and omega-3 rich chia seeds, leafy greens and spicy ginger, mango or pineapple for sweetness, and a creamy texture from frozen bananas that dairy can't compete with. I felt better. I had more energy.
When I started using twitter to connect with other runners, I began to read tweets from some vegan runners, like @forkstofeet and @chinarunner. Brandon's blog, Forks to Feet, credited the documentary Forks Over Knives with improving his life and his running.
I stalled. I put roasts in the oven and served them with two sides. I waffled.
Greg went out with friends one night last October.
I opened a bottle of red wine.
I watched Forks Over Knives.
I watched Vegucated.
I will never eat meat again.
There are three main reasons I've given up eating any animal products.
1. Health. After watching Forks Over Knives I now understand that it's not necessary or healthy to eat animal products, and that by doing so I was putting our family at higher risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis... at least.
2. Environment. Eating less meat is critical to our environment. The UN has asked us to eat less meat in order to help reduce global warming - google it for articles in 2008, 2010, and 2013. My favorite cookbook author, Mark Bittman, did a TED talk titled "What's wrong with what we eat" where he makes a compelling argument for reducing our meat consumption to help the environment. Both Forks Over Knives and Vegucated address the environmental piece. Don't take my word for it... look for yourself. I no longer believe that grass fed is enough.
3. Cruelty to animals. The conditions of inexpensively raised livestock are horrific. The slaughter of free-range, humanely raised animals is still slaughter. When I watched the section of Vegucated where they showed how cows are artifically inseminated so they'll get pregnant and produce milk, and then their babies are dragged away to become veal, I vowed never to consume another dairy product again. I nursed both my children. How was it that I could have been so inattentive that I never thought about what it would be like for another sentient creature to be forced to produce gallons and gallons of milk, not even for their own offspring? My working friends were so relieved when they weaned their children and didn't have to sit at a breast-pump anymore. How can I make cows live a life of giving milk for another species, one who is less healthy for drinking it? I didn't know until I watched Vegucated that male chicks are often thrown away in trash bags because they won't lay eggs and there are too many roosters. I won't eat eggs anymore, either. It's not just the cholesterol. It's not just the earth. I can't know what I know and WANT to eat those things.
I still keep that sign up in our kitchen.
It's message means so much more, now.
It means Dear Earth, I love you more than Bacon. Dear sentient pig, I love you more than Bacon. Dear body, and health of my family, I love you more than Bacon. Dear moral compass, I love you more than Bacon.
I feel like I took the Red Pill in the Matrix, and I've broken out of some ignorant illusion to which I can never, ever go back.
I thought I would miss it, but I can't look at animal products and feel an appetite anymore. Not knowing what they do to my health, what they do to the environment, and what animals suffer through to bring them to us.
I love coconut milk, almond milk, and soy milk.
When I drink wine, I crave olives with a rustic loaf of bread. I have not found a texture or craving that could not be filled by plants. Eating whole foods, minimally processed foods and avoiding refined sugars and oils as much as possible has been an important part of my new-found energy as well, thanks to what I learned from Forks Over Knives.
I'm grateful to know what I know, and I will never go back.
We're vegan, and I love it.