”Hey, I’m here, can you bring the food outside?”
“Sure.” I said. I had most of it packed already, just needed to take the perishables out of the fridge.
My cousin’s son was asleep in the back seat, and he was doing me a favor by bringing all the non-vegan items out of my apartment to my aunt’s house.
“Why are you getting rid of all this food?” He asks.
“Trying to go vegan, make myself feel better.”
I’ve been obese since a child, about six, or seven years old. At the age of 33, I made the choice to have gastric surgery. My medical issue with food was so severe, I needed a surgeon to cut out part of my stomach so I could eat normally. My adventures in veganism, before the surgery, were not successful. Yet, I still kept trying. “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”, “Super-Size Me”, “Forks Over Knives” were my mantras. My memories kept going back to the day I almost threw up while cutting raw chicken, hearing my beautiful cockatiel chirping in the living room, looking for me. “My God, it’s like I’m eating him! This is so wrong.” I said to myself, in disgust. But I had no other food to survive for the week, so Pumpkin’s distant relative went into the oven.
I’ve been on this recovery journey for the past eight years, including my surgery. A journey to heal myself from the inside, out. It was drilled into me before, during, and after surgery to eat as much protein per day as possible. Plant protein was not really an option, I asked. Multiple times. I need it to heal, I need it to survive. And I already knew that was what my body responded to since a teenager. Animal protein. I’m the product of Southern farmers, and parents who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, with their married parents, and a plate of meat, starch, and vegetables, and milk delivered to the house. My grandparents were eating anything animal and surviving into their late nineties. So I never followed the trend of shouting veganism from the rooftops as the gospel of longevity. I saw it firsthand, it wasn’t necessary.
With my surgery, I discovered how little food we can live on, and that everyone’s diet is theirs, some thrive on plants, some thrive on meat. Here was my dilemma: I love animals!! Cows, cute. Rabbits, adorable. Birds, fascinating. Deer? Fugettaboutit. Anyone who grew up watching Bambi was pretty much immediately traumatized, unless you had a gun in your hand at 4 years old. I was horrified when one of my many diets, the diet of eating for your blood type, told me that my B category red cells thrived on these four meats: venison, rabbit, lamb, and mutton. These were the meats I should eat plenty of, and often, for my body to be in optimum form. I gagged for about five minutes.
In losing weight, and getting sober, my connection with my spirituality has grown exponentially over the past few years. This includes sensitivity to loss of life. I can’t get through any sentimental movie without being in complete shambles, it’s pathetic sometimes. I’m aware. This sadness extends to mistreatment of animals. Even those killed for food. Paleo, which I happily looked to for my weekly menu planning, was the diet of our ancestors for goodness’ sakes!! Cavemen needed to chase their food!
So, a couple weeks ago, it made me physically sick to think about eating an animal. And mostly, the age old question popped up, “do they feel it when we kill them?” Do they suffer? Do they have this sense of wanting to live to their fullest potential as we humans want to? Do they think, I never got to watch my babies grow. What are these two-legged beings encroaching on my land and digging up my home?
I’m a follower of a very powerful spiritual enterprise, and I steadily watch the YouTube videos for guidance. I am also part of a Facebook group of others followers, or should I say, seekers. So, I asked them. After panicking that I didn’t have eggs for breakfast the next day, I needed to hear outside opinion. “Anyone else have trouble eating animals?? Any advice??”
The response surprised me. The revelation that the beasts of our planet are plenty and drift in and out of life as regularly as the sun sets and rises. They are always present. We learn from them. They know their time is limited, and it’s understood as soon as they are born. Survival is a coin toss every moment of every day. They know the deal. They understand. And that is okay.
Many will disagree, but I’ve come to accept my non-vegan veganism. I still love and adore animals. I still do not care for mistreatment for purposes of fashion, or not having the patience to take care of them properly. They deserve a fair, comfortable, enjoyable environment to live in. On top of that, my body just does not respond well to not having animal meat in me. I am weak, tired, lethargic, fuzzy, not focused, dizzy, light-headed, it just doesn’t work for me. And that is okay. We do not know enough about the minds and hearts of animals to know that they don’t accept us too.
So, I wish I were a vegan, I sincerely wish I could be. And then I could reconcile my love for all life, and my need to survive.
Let’s agree to disagree, shall we?