Growing up in the midwest and never thinking too much about my diet until I was in my 30’s, I never imagined I would eventually label myself as a vegan. I’m not even sure I heard the term until my late 20’s, only to dismiss it as a kind of diet that only people that wanted to torment their tastebuds, or had health issues would practice.
The last few years I’ve opened a blind eye (ever so slowly) as to how we get most of the food in our stores, restaurants, and then to our plate. While, I understand that there are many people who only eat animals that are humanely raised, (and I do applaud that effort) the majority of our food in America is brought to us by very low standards of sanitary, healthful, and humane practices. Some resources I’ve personally checked out are Food Inc., Fast Food Nation, Vegucated, Eating Animals and of course you can find some incredibly gruesome, unwholesome, and I would say un-Godly videos on YouTube by searching “factory farming”.
Also, there is much evidence that my health is at stake (not steak) the more animal products that I consume. There have been some incredible studies and documentaries produced on the way that animal protein affects us versus the way that plants do. Some of the things I’ve watched include Supersize Me, and Forks Over Knives which highlights Dr. T. Colin Campbell, who grew up on a dairy farm, became a biochemist and eventually headed up The China Study.
As this choice has become clearer for me, I know that living in the midwest, in the Dairy State no less, many of my friends would never consider such a dietary undertaking. I also have friends that I love and respect who own farms and I very much want them to do well. So, I have promised myself that I would not be one of those judgmental vegans, but instead a gentle one. Aside from the fact that I’m not always perfect in my current endeavors, I’ve already eaten enough meat for a lifetime. Also, food is an important part of all cultures and their traditions. I recognize that to choose other traditions or practices can seem to be a snub or critique. My critique has nothing to do with the millions who hold traditions and tastebuds in high regard; these are good things in and of themselves. My critique has everything to with a giant, powerful food industry that will do anything, and I mean anything, to keep us as customers.
I’m still figuring out how to navigate an omnivore world as an herbivore. It’s a journey that I can only walk with gentleness, and the knowledge that because dietary choices are so incredibly personal that we all have to make our own decisions based on the information that we have and choose to incorporate into our lives. If you feel so led, check out some of these movies and/or books for yourself and feel free to dialogue with me about it.