It has now been 5 years since Gerry and I stopped eating meat. I know that because 5 years ago, I sat in the hospital room, while my grandmother was dying of cancer, and I remember her vividly tell me, when I asked her what she would change, or what she would do differently should she have had the chance. Her answer was surprising, since my grandmother was a farm girl, having raised and killed her own animals on her farm and eaten them. She had been a meat lover all of her life, and not ever asked the questions of where it came from, or shopping for organic foods. Her answer was this: “Shannon, I would have eaten only organic, and I wouldn’t have eaten meat. I know those choices had a role in this cancer”. I didn’t agree, nor disagree, but I went home that evening and told Ger that I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t contribute to poor health choices, and I certainly couldn’t contribute to animals suffering just so I could enjoy a chicken sandwich here and there. From that day, until she passed away a few weeks later, I read all I could to help make me “scared straight” into steering clear from meat.
Great, right?! Well, I didn’t take out all of our dairy. Gerry and I are cheese lovers, and we couldn’t imagine taking that out of our diet. Ger also loves eggs, so we thought we’d just be responsible about where we get these items from. We cut out milk a couple of years ago and went to soy milk since I have a tree nut allergy- almond milk is out of the question. Not being milk drinkers, it wasn’t difficult anyway.
Recently, we’ve spent some time with farm animals, at a sanctuary. Seeing these animals, having previously experienced such harsh conditions, for their by-products, just made me so fucking sad. I mean, sad. Being a self-proclaimed animal advocate, how do I stand up for animals and yet continue to eat foods that we make from them? It was avoidance. Avoidance of just not thinking about it, nor thinking, “at least I’m not eating their dead flesh”, then I woke up. I couldn’t ignore the fact anymore that these animals were being mass produced, forced into awful conditions, just for their byproducts. I love goat cheese, but try not to fall in love with a goat and then once you do (because you will), rationalize eating their byproduct and causing them to be treated unfairly, just so you can have a good snack. It’s fucked up.
Gerry and I had been talking about our diet, how we can bring in more greens, after we discussed just how much cheese we have in our diet. It’s funny that we call ourselves vegetarians, but had been eating less veggies than we were carbs or dairy on the daily. I resorted to the old reliable, “scared straight” method, of educating ourselves on how those cheese and eggs arrived to our plate, even when we shop for organic. Truthfully, we want to do it for our health, but the driving factor is the well being of the animals.
I haven’t even delved into the Earth yet! While we carry our reusable bags around everywhere we go, eliminated the use of non-recyclables in our household, compost, reuse, etc. we still were eating animal by-products. Did you know that animal agriculture is responsible for 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide, which also by the way, stays in the atmosphere for 150 years? (U.S. Energy Information Administration, March 31, 2011). Animals have to have somewhere to live, and with factory farms, they are multiplying so they can make more money by having more to land on your plate, not to mention the acres and acres it takes to grow food, not for you by the way, to grow food to feed the animals, that will then be fed to you. Don’t even get me started on pesticides and what they actually feed the animals that then go into your belly! OK, I’m getting on a tangent, but I thought I’d share all of the things that went into our decision to eliminate animal products from our diet.
Part of our tiny living means that we have less space, so buying fresh food is a bonus. We don’t have much room to store food, so we have to buy close to the time we are eating something. This is good for our health and lifestyle.
The planner in me enjoys having all of our meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, planned for the week. We use vegan and plant based forums for help so it takes the difficulty out of it. We’re creative, but for lifelong egg and cheese eaters, we had to learn more about using plants for our meals.
Thug Kitchen has been a game changer! If you aren’t familiar, make yourself familiar! The most recent awesome discovery from our Thug Kitchen cookbook is “Noosh”. Oh lordy! Noosh, also known as nutritional yeast, doesn’t sound appealing, but as a great nutrient based alternative to cheese, this yummy goodness is a lifesaver!
We’re open to any advice to cutting out all animal byproducts from our diet and going straight to plants, so feel free to send us ideas or ways you made the change. We’d appreciate anything that helps us on this fun, tasty, and heartwarming journey!