I have to say I have been (not literally) crapping my pants in anticipation of this blog. Why? Because I’ve learned from being a public personality that when people make big changes, you really can’t win. I try my best “not to care what people think” but to be honest, I read every comment and I take most of it to heart. This topic is extremely controversial and people are very passionate about it either way.
This is only the story of MY journey. I am not asking anyone to become Vegan or Vegetarian … I am only posting this for those interested in my switch. The only thing I DO ask of you is this: PLEASE read this whole blog before commenting and please please keep comments positive and constructive!
I’ve been keeping this kind of secret from you guys for about 6 months now … truthfully I haven’t wanted to share it because it’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done. I’m terrified that after I tell you all that “I don’t eat meat” … that I will fail and you will all call me out for that steak I plan to chow down on in June. But … no one is perfect and I have been SO excited about these changes that even IF I fail it can’t hurt to pour my heart out and maybe encourage others out there too! (although I will TRY my best not to make anyone feel guilty for not making the switch!! LOL)
So … HOW did this Alberta “MEATatarian” become so vegan-ish? Well … it started when I got Nacho. I love that little noodle so much and looking at those innocent eyes every day reminded me that he’s not much different than the piggies and the cows I was eating every day.
PS: a little side note / thought here … I used to make fun of Vegans. I used to think that people who didn’t eat bacon were STUPID (that is not a lie, I really thought that) AND I used to say if I could live on ONE thing and one thing only it would be bacon burgers. Now I can’t look at it without feeling a little heart break. SO FRICKEN CRAZZZZY…. I still can’t believe the change. Ok … carrying on….
It started with just being overly conscious. I knew that the meat I was eating likely didn’t have the best life, so I starting ‘trying’ to avoid meat when I ate out … and when I did buy it at home I would try my best to do a little research and get it from local farms and ‘non-factory’ farms. I’ve always LOVED milk so chugging 1/2 a liter a day didn’t change. Cheese consumption continued on … I bought the milk in the glass bottles and cheese from local dairies and that made me feel better. (Still not entirely sure if that IS even a better option for the animals to be honest…)
I followed Erin Ireland on Instagram already and then started following her on Snapchat too (YOU HAVE TO DO THIS!!). Her way of living intrigued me. Maybe because she is so gentle, or has a way with making vegan food look INSANELY delish … but I was girl crushing hard and wanted to be ‘just like her’ … I wanted to have that gentle heart, I wanted to make kind and thoughtful choices too!!!!
So one day, I made the 4 hour drive from Kelowna to Vancouver for work, and my phone was broken … so … I listened to AM radio. CBC radio had this 2 hour long segment about being vegan and I listened intently. And I thought … and I thought … my heart all of a sudden became SO passionate and that’s when I started reading, researching and calling Erin Ireland on the repeat and asking her so many questions….
What about Dairy Cows? What about family farms? How do you get your protein? Is it hard? What about cheese? So you will never eat bacon again?? All of it seems so daunting but so inspiring … The MAIN reason for her switch was HUMANITY. While research also proves that making the switch is insanely better for your health AND the environment.
It turns out there aren’t many options to eat animal products in a ‘humane’ way… 90% of the animal products I (and most likely you) am eating come from a factory farm… and while there are CLAIMS that “the animals are on the planet for us to eat” … (which may or may not be correct) … I know for a fact they were not meant to be treated the way that they are at the factory farms.
It’s not like it was back in our parents day anymore … in the last 30 something years society has become gluttons, we overeat, we waste and don’t ration the meat like they did in the ‘good old days’ (I am generalizing and realize this does not apply to ALL my readers FYI) … The aisles of the grocery store are LINED and packed with so much dairy and meat … now I get sick just thinking about all of the cows that sit there for their whole lives jacked up to a machine, not able to see their young. I always imagined a dairy cow to be the most romantic thing ever, now I realize it’s actually torture. I could go on, but since I am not an expert in this area I will leave the research up to you. (PS: I have found that fish is even a tricky one, not when it comes to humanity as much as what factory fishing is doing to our environment!)
In November, I went totally Vegan. I went for 30 days with NO animal products and actually… it was pretty cool. But I was a savage Vegan … I was bullying everyone at work and at home and shaming them for ordering anything with an animal product. I begged my parents to watch the documentaries and begged them to try my soy coffee creamer (the image above is what I use) … when they didn’t I cried like a 6 year old. LOL. I was a disaster. I wanted EVERYONE to change… I very soon felt the anguish of what most radicals felt … wanting to make a change so bad but realizing the energy it takes to get into everyone’s hearts.
After 30 days of being Vegan, I got asked the same question over and over again … “HOW do you feel”?? Well, I felt like shit because I just ate spaghetti and vegan gummy bears all month! hahaha!! but I wasn’t doing it for me … I was doing it for the animals. But still … I wasn’t healthy. I needed to learn more about what to eat when being vegan and I needed it to fit into my crazy lifestyle … which was hard.
I realized that with all of the traveling and bouncing between two homes, “becoming Vegan” would be really tough for me. I can’t buy in bulk … I often don’t make my own meals because I’m rarely home, eating on the fly means either being REALLY organized (which I am NOT and never will be) or going without food. Eating out was interesting … I’ve realized some of my FAVOURITE restaurants (like Cactus Club) are completely vegan-UNfrienldy… and I started to more research…
So this is where I am at TODAY… it’s been 6 months of changing the way I eat, chaining where I buy. definitely wasting less and learning more … I will continue this journey, but for now I will say that I am VEGAN-ish. Here are some tips and ways that have helped me make the transition (PS: these are MY tips and opinions… some vegans might not agree … and some meat loving Albertans might not agree… so please take it easy on me! LOL)
Tip 1: When eating out, I look at the menu FIRST for a vegan item I might like. Failing that, I look for a vegetarian item, then I move to fish. If I still can’t find something I like, I usually become mega stubborn and just won’t eat there … but usually the above method provides some great options! This has also challenged me to eat at establishments that are vegan-friendly. I’ve found that our local Cactus Club is NOT vegan-friendly at all (SO SAD) but Earls and Joeys both have great vegan options! I found some GREAT vegetarian restaurants in Vancouver and when it comes to fast food I’ve found some great junk food joints that have great veggie options (blog to come!!).
I RARELY eat ANY kind of meat anymore. The exceptions for me?
– Justin’s family buys a cow every year from a family farm that we have visited and know to be “the best conditions” for a cow who will eventually be consumed. We get some of the meat and eat it occasionally or I prepare it for Justin as he hasn’t QUITE made the switch yet (although he is VERY interested in making the switch!)
– For whatever reason, I am ok with eating wild game. The thought that this animal lived in its natural habitat and was hunted in the wild “FOR ME” … seems to make the cut. This also applies to traveling to such places like Emerald Lake Lodge, Tofino, or establishments that source their meat & game in an ethical & sustainable manner. (We recently went to Tofino and I was thrilled to try local mussels!!). The more questions you ask about where your food comes from, the more demand restaurants will have to source ethically and sustainably! It’s ok if people think you’re a hippy. I’ve realized now that hippies are hella fricken smart and so I’m totally cool with that.
– I have REDUCED the amount of dairy I consume to a GREAT extent. I will eat some local cheese but avoid mass produced factory dairy products. I don’t ‘chug’ milk anymore and use SOY NICE for my coffee.
– I still eat eggs but buy only FREE-RUN eggs (I had to do a ton of research on this too because there are MANY different labels that make egg and chicken purchases very tricky, and typical chicken factories are GROSS!)
– I’ve realized the whole ‘protein’ issue is a NON-issue because so much of the foods we eat have SO much protein in them already!!! For example: peas, nuts, nut butters, beans, leafy greens, chia seeds (or any seeds!). I also LOVE the Vega bars and keep them and almonds in my purse and car for those “desperate moments”!
– Lastly, I am… human. I’ve failed at this more than once … strangely enough, the hardest thing for me has been … wait for this… ginger beef??!!! LOL which I have ordered twice in the last 6 months and grilled cheese sandwiches with Kraft slices. Over Christmas, there were beef sliders at the table and I had one. GASP. I had to tell you guys because I’ve been feeling guilty ever since….
But that is why I wanted to write this blog.. because I think the HARDEST part about making this change is having to put a label to ‘what I am’ and worrying about FAILING … if you have a big glass of milk, or order a burger one day … it’s ok. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it … or that you are a bad person. I think the most magical part of this whole journey for me has been learning, reducing and NEVER EVER wasting. When I used to toss a block of moldy cheese out I never gave it a second thought. Now I think of ALL of that animal product as a life, that was sacrificed for ME … and why on earth would I ever waste a morsel of that?
So ya … oh my God I hope this blog hasn’t been too boring or naggy for you all. I really really wrote this from the heart and want to share my journey along the way! I will continue to update everyone on products I love, recipes I love and even products that I have tried that suck! LOL …
THANK YOU for reading… #MercyForTheAnimals