Saturday, February 14, 2009

Closing Thoughts

When was it exactly, that I started this meandering blog of mine? A year and half ago or was it two years now? I do recall feeling very passionate about the intent, which was to educate people about the vegetarian (vegan) food choices and the cruelty behind our current standard mode of consumption as it specifically relates to the animals we raise as our main source of protein.

At one time, I considered myself an "angry vegan", so upset was I by what I had seen and read. That anger powered, in a sense, my drive. But was I really effective in changing anything or anyone?

Since adopting the vegetarian diet, my husband and sons have at different times, tried to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet. Currently, my husband is eating 90% vegetarian, but includes fish and chicken once a week. When he is out of the house, he chooses whatever he so desires at that time. My youngest son (a busy student and avid fitness enthusiast), lost too much weight, and has thus resorted to protein powders to maintain his lean frame. He also adds portions of cheese and other animal protein. My older son, also tried for a short while to eat a animal-free diet, but found it too limiting. He mentioned that in his nursing program, the educators were not supportive at all of the vegetarian diet. He has resumed an omnivorous diet.

As for me, I still aim for the vegan choices, although I have recently purchased some organic dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese) products. I am aware that organic does not mean that the dairy cows have long lives, happily grazing in a sun-dappled meadow somewhere. The organic aspect gives me some comfort knowing the cow had a natural diet during it's short life, and hence the product is free (or almost) free of hormones and additives. (My husband continues to eat milk and for that reason, I purchase the organic.) I continue to prefer the soy and almond beverages over cow's milk but have really enjoyed the addition of organic yoghurt a few times this week.

The biggest lesson that I have learned throughout this journey is that I cannot change anyone's food choices. I can be comfortable in my choices and lead by example. Getting in someone's face is certainly not my style. Even being fairly unobtrusive, I have noticed or felt, at times, that hostess' have been slightly miffed or annoyed with my refusal to eat certain dishes that they have lovingly prepared. In other instances, some have verbally stated that it is a pain in the neck to have to worry about a vegetarian when preparing a menu.

My solution to this is to always offer to bring something and I continually tell people to not worry about me - I never starve and can always eat many of the dishes on the table.

Reading an interview with a local dietitian, I could compare some of what she experienced as a dietitian to my story as a vegetarian. Her perception was that if people knew her profession, they felt slightly uncomfortable around her when eating, as they thought she might be judging. Now she keeps quiet about her profession, and finds that people are more relaxed and can enjoy their meals. This simple stance resonated with me - I have become more restrained about speaking out about my choices.

Could I ever go back to eating meat? Not likely, although recently one of my sons brought up the issue of what would happen if in my old age (and senility closing in), I was placed in a nursing home. What choices would I have then about what I ate? My answer to this was "None" but, at least for a few short years, relatively speaking, I chose to not eat animal products as one way I tried to alleviate some of the suffering in this world.

I leave you with this final quotation from the Dhammapadha, the words of the Buddha...

"One is not noble who injures living beings. One is 'noble' because one is harmless towards all living beings."