Having put the cart firmly before the horse on Day 1, I decided it would be a good idea to actually do some research on vegan philosophy so I cracked open Being Vegan by Joanne Stepaniak. First paragraph in I discovered how far off from true vegans we were. Slightly embarrassed, I realized we completely overlooked the vegan mantra: do the least harm and the most good. Also, a defining rule for vegans is the elimination of using or wearing anything from an animal. This includes honey. For a family with 8 hives and large glistening mason jars of ‘Local Gold’ strategically placed around the kitchen, this was a real game changer. At this point we must fully disclose that we are strict vegetarians and not authentic vegans.
Walking around throughout my day with a head full of newly discovered veganism, I started self-reflecting and pondering my own actions, trying to come to terms with how I can best work this philosophy into my everyday life. It’s hard for many to argue with the solid vegan code of least harm/most good conduct. I started comparing domesticated animals with food animals trying to figure out what separates them, making it ok to consume one and not the other. I thought of the strain we put on the environment every day, aside from our diets, and felt heavy moments of discouragement. What drew me back to the lighter side was the knowledge that by each of us simply taking small steps to do the least harm/most good, we can make a monumental impact together. There is hope. I joined Veganuary.com (I really didn’t know this was a big ‘try out vegan’ month – it’s a ‘thing’) and saw all the people that had tried it and will try it and realized how much, in just one month, collectively we would reduce some of the daily stresses we put on the environment.
Many times throughout the day, I thought to grab a milk or yogurt when I felt hungry. Instead, I leaned on pretzels, hummus, and dried fruit, watching anxiously for the green bag bounty to arrive. At home we had chicken marinating in the fridge that I bought before we decided to take on this eating experiment. We were very happy instead to have Uncle Gary over for dinner, so that he may enjoy the chicken with our sons (being wasteful is a way of doing harm after all). Chris and I ate roasted potatoes and garlic with sautéed bell peppers, avocado, and salsa. Our stomachs were satisfied as we cleaned up the dinner dishes, but we still caught ourselves unconsciously reaching for morsels of leftover chicken, and had to quickly check ourselves and retract our hands from the forbidden meat.
My meal planning is horrible this week. Breakfast was a tortilla with peanut butter and orange marmalade; lunch was pretzels, hummus, a handful of dried cranberries, and granola. I’m really looking forward to the butternut squash soup I made for tonight, and for tomorrow I’ll be digging into my green bag to create some new and exciting meatless, cheeseless, eggless meals.
by Michelle Berry, 1/4/16