Being vegan to our family has been normal for so long now, that I forget we live in a world where it is actually uncommon and even strange to not eat animals.
It is normal for us to go grocery shopping and not pass the meat section. It is normal to purchase almond milk instead of cow’s milk. It is normal to bake without eggs and use shredded vegan cheese on our pizza.
I get so caught up in creating fun, delicious, healthy recipes and just loving the food that we eat that I forget that it is quite different to eat this way. I forget that the majority of the world has not yet come to see that there is no need to confine, abuse and kill animals just for food and that one can live perfectly healthy (in fact even more healthy) eating a plant-based diet.
I had this moment yesterday when the girls and I were looking through the grocery flyers. I only really need to look at the front and the back of the flyer because I only really check what produce is on sale. We were browsing the flyers and came to the meat page. Kesa had to ask me, “what’s that?” It was chicken legs and so I told her, those are chicken legs. She seemed to be quite surprised at that and both girls seemed pretty disgusted by the raw flesh on the pages.
It made me think how I felt when I was a girl too. I was disgusted with seeing the packaged meat in the grocery stores. I never ever could eat meat that had bones in it. My mom rarely cooked that kind of meat anyway. It was usually skinless and boneless meat that we would eat. Things like ham, chicken breasts, chicken fingers, hotdogs and deli meats. I ate those things because they were smoked or flavored in ways that made them taste good and it wasn’t as obvious that they once had a life.
I wonder sometimes about what my girls will think when they are older about being raised as vegan. Right now, it is just normal to them. When we first made the switch to a vegan diet, Autumn had just turned 5, Kesa was 15 months and Serafina has all her life (even while I was pregnant) been vegan. I wonder if it will still seem strange to them that people eat meat. I wonder if they will be grateful for never having to have to suppress a deeper knowing, as I did when I was a child and that I think most children have when they learn that their bacon is really a dead pig. They know that it is wrong, but are taught to not think too deeply about it and just eat.
Last night, looking through those flyers reminded me what it is all about. I don’t like to think about that side of things because it really does make me feel angry and sad inside that so many animals are dying, so much pollution is going on and so many people are so overweight and unhealthy, all for no real good reason. I guess I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want to be a defensive, preachy vegan. When I first awakened to the reality, I did want to go out and preach the vegan gospel and change the world, but I quickly saw that really, my defensiveness only stemmed from insecurity. The people who need to get defensive are usually people who aren’t actually secure in their beliefs and aren’t really living from their own heart. Instead, I just decided to do what I knew in my heart that I needed to do and live what I believed.
But when it all comes down to it, it really is about the animals. It is about believing in freedom and love for all beings. It is about creating a better world, a more compassionate, kind and healthy world. It is that radical notion that animals are not just commodities.
When I think about it, even though it may seem strange or different, I am proud to be vegan. Proud to be the type of person who is hopeful and who believes that she can and is making a difference. Proud to believe in a love that extends to all beings. I am also happy to have a husband who never liked to eat meat and was instantly on board with me when I made my decision to stop eating animals. I am happy to have family and friends who support my vegan cookbook endeavors and who try some of my ‘strange’ kitchen creations (hello mom!). I am grateful for the connections with other vegans that I have made through my blog as well, who I consider my friends.
Life really is so great where we are now. I feel so much peace, happiness and health that I couldn’t ever imagine going back. I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything. I don’t worry that my kids are either. I am confident in how we are living our life and raising our girls.
This is really what it’s all about.