Giving up on Animals.
I'm sure you are scratching your head like "wtf is she talking about?" I'm talking about becoming a vegan, folks. The dirty "V-word" that causes you to lose friends and makes people whisper about you behind your back. The word that causes family members to turn their backs on phone calls, uninvite you from Thanksgiving dinner and recoil in opposition as if you've just offered them poison.
Unlike so many personal choices I have made... this one isn't met with polite niceties like "oh well if that's what suits you.. I'm supportive..." This one is met with vehement opposition that people are not shy about vocalizing. The thing is... unlike so many of my "personal choices" that I have made which impact only me, this isn't a personal choice at all. This is quite the opposite... my choice... and your choice... impacts millions of animals and the planet. It's one of the few "personal choices" that couldn't be more personal.
I'm not going to go around and beat anybody over the head with a vegan stick (yet), but I do want to talk a little bit about how I arrived at this decision.
Before I got pregnant, I had discovered a "plant-based" way of eating that basically led me about 95% of the way to veganism not by choosing to abstain from animals, but instead choosing to fill my diet with only plants in as whole of form as possible. I made the decision to try this way of eating for my health and my health alone. In fact, I intentionally avoided using the word vegan because of the negative connotation it carries. The outcome of my experiment in whole food nutrition was that I FELT AMAZING, I got my body/weight in check (without any real exercise, I might add), and I improved my physical ailments/digestive health by 100% (read: I had ZERO residual bowel/constipation issues after changing my diet... this was A LIFELONG struggle of mine).
As a result of my vigor for my newfound and much beloved plant-based diet, I found myself following prominent plant-based advocates and physicians on YouTube and Twitter (and other social media platforms which I no longer use) as well as reading numerous publications by these individuals (books, published studies, etc.). The result was that in addition to learning all about the health benefits of a whole-food, plant-based diet, I was exposed to the myriad of other benefits of this way of eating that I had never considered, as well as the horrendous impact of consuming animal products on health, the planet, and of course the animals themselves.
Fast forward to the birth of my son: I am now the proud owner of a tiny human being who is physically and emotionally dependent on me for his absolute every single need. (Obvi I am joking about ownership. I mean, sort of. I'll free him when he's old enough to date... on his 40th birthday. LOL). I can't say for sure whether motherhood changes your brain (it does) or it simply makes you a mush puddle emotionally, but I was checking out twitter this morning and stumbled upon some really gut-wrenching videos... not the least of which involved baby cows that had been taken away from their mothers and deprived of the very (dairy) milk that was intended for them, and baby piglets being castrated without any pain relief whatsoever and then thrown into a pile of crying baby piglets while they bled out of their newly-castrated genital area.
LET ME JUST TELL YOU... it did not take me becoming a mother to know that these practices were abhorrent, but it DID take me becoming a mother to bring it so close to home that it left me in a puddle of my own blubbering tears. And to realize that WE ARE THE PROBLEM. Baby pigs get castrated so gruesomely BECAUSE WE EAT BACON. And mama cows shriek in horror when their babies are stolen from them because we can't get over our addiction to milkshakes and butter and whatever else we justify to ourselves that we "need". You know what I need? My son. My helpless, infant son who relies on me for his every need. How is my son so different from those baby calves? And how am I so different from those mama cows? I'm over the argument that we are at the top of the food chain. There's no physical need for us to consume animals. There's an abundance of other beautiful, (far more) healthful things on this planet for us to eat besides living, breathing, sentient beings and beautiful little baby piglets.
Call me crazy. But honestly, isn't it crazy that I never woke up before now?
It seems so simple now. I'm giving up on animals.
And I'm putting it out here for the world to see. Because I'm man enough to be accountable.
I'm mother enough to be accountable.