Monday, January 11, 2016

Meatless Monday? Try Vegan Monday!

Repeat after me: what one chooses to eat or wear is personal. You do you, I'm gonna be me.

I've been a vegetarian on and off again since my teens: a looooong time ago. I have been a lacto-ovo vegetarian consistently for the past nine years. (Lacto-ovo vegetarians eat eggs and dairy products. Chad and I buy humane certified eggs and milk from pasture-raised animals, but I'm aware of the hypocrisy. Thanks.) The cow slaughter scene in the movie "Hud" coupled with my work as a Furry Godmother caring for pets compelled me to say goodbye to eating meat over nine years ago.

I was very fortunate to work on the movie "Temple Grandin" several years ago. (You may recognize the back of me as the flight attendant when Temple Grandin as played by Claire Danes exits the airplane.) While I applaud the work of Ms. Grandin, a notable person with Autism and an animal behavior researcher, more humane slaughter methods for cattle won't let my conscious condone consuming steak. I am very fortunate to live in a society with abundant food choices and the personal freedom to eat what I want.

In December I made the enlightening choice / awful mistake of watching a documentary called "Vegucated" about three people, former omnivores,  who as part of a social experiment embraced a vegan lifestyle for six weeks, and had their eyes opened to the cruelty of factory farming. While the movie was very well made, it was shocking and sickening for me to see what animals go through on an egg farm or a dairy farm. SHOCKING. and SICKENING.

A few years ago I made a half-hearted attempt to go vegan for the forty days of the Lenten Season. I ate lots of processed vegan foods, gained four pounds, discovered my soy intolerance, and gave up after only 20 days. Armed with the knowledge gained from that failure and with the shocking images of conditions on egg and dairy farms, I am resolving to embrace a more vegan lifestyle in 2016.

In the month of January, Chad and I will eat vegan on Mondays. (When I told Chad, a sometimes-vegetarian / current omnivore about my plan to go vegan, he asked if he could try it with me. This was totally his choice.) We are blessed to live in such a vegetarian-friendly and vegan-friendly city as Austin where vegetarian and vegan choices abound at most restaurants and grocery stores. We've already discovered an almond milk coffee creamer that we both love, and that doesn't upset my tender tummy.

In the month of February, I will eat vegan on Mondays and Tuesdays. Each month I'll add another day of vegan-eating to my routine. By August, I plan to be vegan full-time. Easy-peasy! Okay, not really easy-peasy. I love cheese pizza. I also love cheese on bean nachos and bean tacos. I love milk with cookies, the cookies made with milk and eggs. I love milk chocolate. I may give myself a "pass" when traveling, and just be vegetarian if I find myself in the backwoods of exurbia far from a Whole Foods market or vegan-friendly food cooperative, or in Spain where the meat entree comes with a side of meat salad.

Recently, I pondered a return to school to become a pastry chef. Austin Community College offers an accredited, exemplary pastry chef certification program. I thought I could sublimate my artistic compulsions and need for hands-on, 3D work into a job that offers good income and a degree of social acceptance. (A blog post for another time: I'm so tired of peoples' small-minded reactions when I say I work as an actress, or a housewife, or a retail stylist, or a professional petsitter.) I'm not going back to school to be a pastry chef. I'll keep baking, because I love to bake, and learn some new vegan baking tricks. I can be creative without using dairy and eggs, but I can't graduate from a pastry chef program without using dairy and eggs.

My decision to transition to more of a vegan lifestyle is not a weight loss diet or a plan to be healthier. Thank goodness Oreos, Nutter Butters and Twizzlers are vegan! Wheatsville Coop (our local cooperative grocery store) offers lots of healthy and not-at-all healthy vegan foods. My decision is all about doing what I can to reduce cruelty to animals and the breeding with subsequent slaughter of animals for food or for fashion.

I'm fully aware that bone meal and animal dung are used to fertilize crops such as fruits and vegetables. Rather than throw my hands in the air and order a bacon cheeseburger with mayo, I am going to do what I can to live according to my personal values and principles. 

Repeat after me: what one chooses to eat or wear is personal. You do you, I'm gonna be me.