Becoming vegan was a journey for me, a transition from one lifestyle to another. I grew up in a meat eating family but I was against veal at an early age in principle and I never particularly liked poultry. My mother used to bring home "fresh" chicken from the butcher and I would watch as she "cleaned" it. It was so gross I could never bring myself to eat it for dinner. But, nevertheless I did eat our typical family meals like meatballs, cheeseburgers and fried flounder.
When I turned 18 and went off to college, I pretty much swore off meat. I was totally grossed out by the food offerings in my dorm cafeteria so I only ate cheese and eggs. After graduation, I waffled back and forth, eating red meat often but not really enjoying it.
Several years later, I discovered yoga and began to be exposed to new ideas about life, love and food. The vegan transition all started when a friend at a teacher training suggested I read "Diet for a New America" by John Robbins. By the time I was done with the book, I was devastated. Between the animal cruelty and the potential for cancer, there was nothing left to eat but grass, or so it seemed. Robbins suggested that we eat as close to the ground as possible so I started eating more salads. I have to admit my diet was not that varied but I did feel good about what I was eating.
When I applied for the Jivamukti yoga teacher training course, there was required reading and among the books I had to read was a book called "Dominion" by Matthew Scully. He explained in very clear terms the cultural imperatives all over the world that taught us that we have dominion over the animals. My point of view began to shift even further toward veganism.
But still, what to eat? I bought "Veganomicon" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and educated myself about tofu, tempeh, quinoa and kale. I had to develop my palate and learn how to satisfy my hunger. I even started to crave green juices!
Now that I am fully vegan for over six years and healthier and happier than ever, I have continued to educate myself by reading books such as "Eating Animals," "Mad Cowboy," "Animal Sanctuary," and "Every 12 Seconds." It is important to understand the realities of factory farming in order to understand the implications for the Earth and her resources. It is important to understand the human toll this industry takes not just in terms of our health, but on the psychological well-being of those who do these jobs.
Today I cook for my family, always trying to come up with new ideas. I have remade my favorite dishes from growing up into my own vegan version. I have created all new comfort foods for my family. And I feel like I am contributing to the world in a positive way, three (or more) times a day.
Photo credit:cc: flickr.com/photos/zennomad