Interview with a confused non-vegan
My vegan series blogs have kind of stalled recently, but behind the scenes there’s a lot going on in my head. I’m basically having an enormous crisis of conscience at the moment around animal consumption. Sometimes it feels too complicated to put into words – weird for me, I know. As of this point I haven’t made any final decisions, but I feel I owe it to myself and to you to be honest about where I’m at, as that’s what I’ve built this blog around – unflinching honesty in the face of my health journey and personal challenges.
I’m not looking for answers, lest one of you well-meaning souls feels compelled to offer a fix. I’m just writing to figure it all out and hopefully in the coming days or weeks, I’ll know my path.
I decided the easiest way to do this is to interview myself and answer as honestly as I can.
Ok, so what’s bugging you?
I watched some speeches by vegan activists.
Oh my god, the meat industry videos? WHY!!
No dumbass, not the slaughter videos. I will never watch them – I don’t need to see them to know what happens to animals who are bred for consumption. I can read perfectly well, thanks.
Ok, so what then?
I watched two videos of two guys giving talks about what it means to be vegan and what veganism means in terms of fighting injustice in our world. The stuff they said hit home and I feel like I can’t escape from it.
Well, there was some stuff about what it’s like for chickens and cows, from birth to the slaughterhouse/dairy farm. Their living conditions, their suffering. It’s nothing I haven’t heard before, but in the context of the speeches it was impossible to sweep aside. They also spoke about how we humans are all born into a world that has conditioned us to believe that eating animals is an acceptable thing. To love some animals – like dogs, because if you hurt a dog you are a sick, malignant individual – yet to be ok with using and killing others. We’ve been taught from a young age that we need cow’s milk for calcium, animal meat for protein. It’s a form of brainwashing by an industry that’s making money off our beliefs.
But you know that’s not true – you’ve done the research for yourself.
Yes, my point exactly – I know I don’t need to eat animal products for nutrients or health reasons, but I do anyway. Chicken, fish and dairy anyway.
So why do you? Is it just because you like the taste?
Honestly – I guess so. But I think mostly it’s because up until now, I’ve never been able to imagine a life without it. It’s just what I’ve always done.
And now you’re wrestling with the fact that just because it’s what you’ve always done, doesn’t mean it’s right.
What else is messing with your head?
People say veganism is extreme, but it’s not extreme to say that you don’t want to harm animals, which is essentially what veganism is. That’s actually a moral approach that most people have, unless you’re a psychopath. There was also a point about “humane” farming that stuck with me. When we look at a label and we see free range, we attribute our ideas of freedom onto that label. Being free to us means living without oppression and injustice, to be free from pain and fear. We transfer our human ideas onto a label and decide that the chickens lived a good life, one without fear, pain, oppression or cruelty. But deep down we know that isn’t true. Their end point is the same and it’s full of all of those things. Animals don’t care what label they get on the packaging in a supermarket. Grass-fed, free range, hormone-free – these don’t safeguard the animals. They’re still killed when no sentient being wants to die. The labels are there to make us buy the product because they ease our conscience.
Was that the worst bit?
Nope. One guy asked the audience if you would send your dog or cat to a slaughterhouse to be euthanised when it was their time. Of course, nobody would. Why then, he asked, do we sanction the sending of cows, sheep and chickens there, if we know it’s not somewhere we’d like our own animals to end up? Because we know what happens there and we don’t want to face it. Out of sight, out of mind, moral objection silenced.
Ok, I see why you’re having a crisis. Are you using this post to get on your soapbox about it?
No, I’m trying really hard not to. I don’t have a leg to stand on anyway, because I still eat meat and dairy, so I’m part of the injustice. Also, I’m very wary of soapbox activism. Vegans who throw people’s cruelty in their faces as a way to force change are the same as Christians who preach about your inevitable eternity in hell – not very effective. It just makes people angry and unwilling to listen. There’s a way to talk to people and I don’t think pointing fingers at them is helpful to anyone on either side.
You’re sounding a bit soapboxy. Get off.
So what are you going to do? Because it sounds to me like you want to go vegan.
I honestly don’t know if I can, even if I want to.
That sounds like a cop out. Why can’t you?
It’s a drastic change. I have a child to think about who’s very fussy at the moment. I’ll get stuck on ideas for quick and easy meals – already my vegan meals take up way more prep time than popping chicken in the oven.
You don’t have to do it overnight. You can take your time. And you don’t have to force anything on Lexi. This is about you, no one else.
Do you want to try?
I don’t know – I think so. But change is scary, ok!
Ok, you want to try – remember I know you better than you know yourself (boom!). So here’s the deal: try it for one week. No strings attached. Plan a week of meals so you don’t panic at dinner time. Spend a weekend pre-making things so there’s no pressure. Most of your snacks and lunches are vegan anyway, so it’s not that big of a shift.
Ok, you’re right. I’ll try it for one week. Thereafter though, I’m under no obligation.
Just one thing Miss Smartypants – what are we going to do about milk in our coffee?
Oh yes, we’ve tried this before and didn’t come right. No substitute was satisfactory. Ask your readers for help!
Readers, please help! (And please don’t tell me almond milk, I may as well drink it black)
*Note: Sometimes you need to ask yourself the tough questions to help you find your path. I just happen to do that better in writing. Whether or not I ever go vegan for good won’t change the fact that I’m not condemning anyone else for their choices. I hate the hate that zealots spew on their blogs and social media, whether it’s over food choices, religion, politics or what your favourite TV show is. This will never be a place where that type of “activism” is welcome. Say your piece, but say it kindly. Thanks.