Thursday, June 28, 2012

Answer to "Mostly Vegan" Huff Post article

Since Huff Post only allows 250 word comments, here is my full response to the article "On Being a Mostly Vegan" by Sasha Turgman

My road to veganism was a slow transition, not a right angled turn.  I want to differentiate someone who eats a plant based diet from someone who is a vegan.  More power to those who shift their diets.  A vegan is someone who refuses to participate in the oppression of another being, IMHO of course.

Fish and seafood were the last animal products I omitted in my diet.  I would have them 2 or 3 times a month, usually when on the road and unable to find any 100% plant options that INTERESTED me.  I still ate a plant based diet and called myself a "vegan."  Only now, years later, do I realize the confusion that title caused.  Vegan-esque, vegan-ish all are descriptors of a mostly plant based diet. Vegan is a lifestyle, a philosophy, a belief system which includes a 100% plant based diet but much, much more. 

I went vegetarian for my health and replaced animal flesh with Mozzarella En Carozza and Doritos.  When I started to not feel so great I did a little research, began to cook, (got really good at cooking), and a funny thing happened.  Whilst doing research into how to eat a healthy plant based diet, (and we all know how many opinions about that there are out there), you absolutely will come across information about how our food is brought to the table.  Pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and industrialized animal farming will all become household words to you.  You discover things about your food you really didn't want to know.  I found this information empowering.

I started to doubt the wisdom of eating fish when my daughter begged me to make swordfish with Giada DiLaurentis' Mango Salsa.  It was a family favorite but in the discussion I found myself saying things like, "The government recommends that we only have swordfish twice a year," and, "Because it has mercury and it's bad for your brain because it's a heavy metal poison."  If this doesn't stop and make you think about how much you really really want to eat something I don't know what will.  (Would you eat something if someone said it contained strychnine? You can have a little bit but not too much!).  So I really started to question why we ate things that were toxic!

My last straw, to finally give up the last pesco remnants of my old diet was when I read a report about the levels of toxic chemicals the EPA (or might have been the DEP, I don't remember), found in fish and 100% of them exceeded the government recommendations for mercury.  That was it.  I became 100% plant based.  Eating seafood just wasn't that important to me.

After seeing so many videos, reading so many books, I have come to the realization that animals are sentient beings and I don't believe we have the right to use anyone, human or non, for our own pleasure or entertainment, whether that's to pleasure our palate or watch an elephant at the circus doing anything but what is natural to her.

There are many small discussions/arguments among vegans that are in a sense petty after one decides to stop eating animals.  Should you throw out all of your leather or wool products?  donate them?  or just make the decision to not purchase them from here on out?  I chose the latter and will still on occasion use my leather work boots.  The funny thing is, I don't feel good about it.  I just don't have an extra $100 dollars sitting around to buy vegan ones.

I went vegan for my health but now I am vegan for the animals.  I feel that we can make the world a better place if we do our parts to minimize pain, suffering, and live a more compassionate life.  If you want to participate in Meatless Mondays, have one animal product free meal each day, or any other iteration of moving towards a 100% plant based diet I applaud you.  If you eat mostly plants and can't give up your sushi, it's still better than nothing but I would still say that being 100% plant based is the goal.  Don't do nothing because you can't do everything as Coleen Patrick-Goudreau says.  Go vegan for the animals, for your health, and for the environment.

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