A New York lawyer's adventures with animal-free eating
- I love pears. Love the way they look, the way they smell… Pears were a theme at my wedding. I adore Juicy Pear Jelly Bellies. Unfortunately, I don’t really like to EAT pears. Blech.
- I LOVE ducks. Rubber ducks, specifically. You should see my bathroom. Ducks everywhere! 🙂
- My husband (Ed) robbed the cradle. He’s 7 years older than me.
- I knit. And crochet sometimes. And my mom is teaching me how to sew (I made the cute coffee cup curtains in my kitchen!). However, I’ve been working on a scarf for Ed for approximately 3 years. I just can’t make myself finish it.
- I LOVE Chuck Taylors. I wore green ones to my wedding.
- Green is my favorite color.
- Ed and I are huge Red Sox fans.
What do you do for a living?
I am a lawyer. I have undergraduate degrees in Criminal Justice and Sociology. In law school, I concentrated in Criminal Law, and planned to be a District Attorney. Throughout law school, I worked at places that dealt with domestic violence – prosecuted, worked for a judge in DV Court, etc. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to prosecute after graduation (damn student loans!), so now I work for the Town I live in.
Are you a vegetarian or vegan?
A vegetarian is someone who does not eat flesh or products derived from flesh (e.g., chicken broth, gelatin, etc.). A vegan is someone who does not eat any animal product (e.g., milk, butter, eggs, whey, byproducts, honey, etc.).
I’m on my way to vegan. However, I believe in making my own rules. I personally do not see the harm in eating honey or using beeswax as long as the bees are not killed and their regular cycle is not altered… And if someone is keeping a chicken as a pet and does not intend to slaughter it ever (or kill any male chicks) and that chicken happens to lay eggs, I might eat an egg from that chicken. On the other hand, I believe that I can be perfectly happy and healthy without animal products.
Did you become vegan all at once, or over time?
Well, once I made the decision to live consistent with my moral beliefs, I knew that vegetarianism was not going to be the end for me. The more I read about the dairy and egg industries, the less I wanted to have any part in supporting them. So after I stopped eating meat, it became clear that I would be working towards going vegan. That’s what I’m currently doing. Since June 2010, I’ve been steadily removing animal products from my diet — first meat, then eggs and dairy, and now all animal products.
I’ve actually considered cutting meat from my diet for a number of years. I disagree with cruelty to animals. I would never purposefully harm an animal. However, it was easier to just keep eating meat. It’s more convenient. So I kept myself willfully ignorant of what really happens in the meat, egg and dairy industries. It’s easy to ignore something when you aren’t confronted with it everyday, especially when you are continuously bombarded with fun dairy (Got Milk?) and meat ads (Hilshire Farms, go meat!).
In June 2010, one of my friends recommended that I watch the movie Earthlings. I went home that night and watched just the trailer for it (available here). The trailer alone was sufficient to have me stop eating meat that night.
There are a variety of very good reasons to go vegan, and the reasons listed below are not even close to the end of the story, or the end of the reasons I have for going vegan.
Ethics/Objection to Animal Cruelty:
Obviously, this is the big one. Animals can suffer. Animals feel pain. We as a society clearly believe these two statements, because we’ve enacted a variety of laws protecting companion animals from cruel treatment. Unfortunately, most of us prefer to remain ignorant of how animals are actually treated in the meat, poultry, dairy and egg industries. But the fact of the matter is, virtually all farming practices used in the US today cause significant suffering to animals. The very minimal USDA standards that are in place, theoretically to protect farm animals, are not consistently observed or enforced, and are actually quite laughable.
And the whole concept of so-called “free-range meat” is a farce. People like to pretend that the animals they are eating frolicked around in rolling hills of grass… until the day they were slaughtered. However, the statement “free-range” just means that the animal had “access” to the outdoors. In many cases, this “access” is a window/door through which the animals may incidentally see the light of day, though it’s unlikely that they will ever be outside.
In any event, does it matter if your meat animal was allowed to frolic if it just ends up going to the same slaughterhouses as any other animal? It’s in these slaughterhouses that things occur that make me consistently amazed and disgusted by what humans are willing to do to another living creature. If you believe that what animals undergo at a slaughterhouse is anything less than torture, you are sadly mistaken. But by all means, judge for yourself. Watch Earthlings. Get Slaughterhouse by Gail Eisnitz. Even Skinny Bitch gives a good overview.
Why not just vegetarian?
Did you know that male chicks are a byproduct of the egg industry? They can’t be used, so they’re often gassed or thrown alive into grinding machines (see here and here, video here). Of course, there is also the deplorable conditions at egg farms.
And the dairy industry isn’t any better.
Think of these facts while you drive around in your Prius, eat local, and make compost. If you are eating meat, you are contributing heavily to the destruction of the earth.
According to a report published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions —18 percent— than transportation. It is also a major source of land and water degradation (both backed up by this study). The amount of water it takes to raise a cow to produce just one pound of beef is equivalent to the amount of water you use in an entire years worth of showers (see here). US factory farms pollute US waterways more than all other polluters (industrial, etc) combined (see here).
Also, if Americans reduced their meat consumption by 10% it would free 12 million tons of grain – enough to feed 60 million people (see here).
Find a fairly good article summarizing this issue here.
This is a big one for me, because this is the one that causes the most questions. People like to eat meat. I like meat. I really like seafood. But the fact is, I do not need to eat animals to live a happy, healthy life. There has been substantial research demonstrating that plant-based diets are perfectly healthy, and also that they are significantly more healthy than diets which include animal products (see Dieticians of Canada and the American Dietetic Association). Indeed, vegans actually tend to live longer, healthier lives than omnivores (see “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell, PhD).
Think about it. Eating vegan is low fat, low cholesterol, high fiber, etc.
Then there’s the fact that human beings are NOT natural carnivores (see here).
And also the fact that the meat/eggs/dairy you are eating is full of disgusting shit, including a variety of antibiotics, salmonella, e coli, and pus. No joke. It’s gross. (see here and here and here, among many many others).
Where do you get your protein?
Contrary to what teachers say, there are stupid questions. Joking. Sort’ve. I get TONS of protein. Protein is in beans, nuts, legumes, tofu, tempeh, etc. aka, everything I eat.
Do you have food allergies?
Sort’ve. I have been diagnosed as being gluten intolerant. However, since I stopped eating meat, I haven’t had any problems with eating gluten. Weird, I know. I do try to limit my gluten intake anyway.
Do you exercise? What do you do?
I really like Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred – in only 20 minutes, she can really kick your ass. I also run. We’re hoping to run the Hudson-Mohawk Half Marathon in October 2011, and eventually to train for and run a marathon with Team in Training (to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society).
I am also a cat lady. Check out my herd.
And this is what they have to say about Mommy’s veg endeavors…