I am Vegan, hear me roar.

I grew up surrounded by meat and dairy. My paternal grandmother is a polish immigrant. Kielbasa, fried chicken, meat balls, ham sandwiches, pierogies filled with cottage cheese, even pickled herring were commonplace. When I was sick, she’d sometimes make me google-moogle, which was pretty much just some raw eggs beaten in a cup and drank. My stepmother’s parents owned a chicken farm, which ensured that our fridge was always stocked with flats of eggs and our freezer with whole chickens. Generally speaking, nearly every dinner of my youth included meat.

When I was a senior in high school, my mother, who was adopted, was reunited with her birth family. Having studied French in school for 12 years I was delighted to learn that side of my family was Quebecois. I quickly learned that being a Quebecer meant, among other things, being a voracious carnivore. Ragu, meat pie, cretons, poutine, sugar pie… I am fairly certain that during the first week I spent at my newly found aunt’s house, every single meal included meat and dairy.

My mother and I have always loved to dine out. Chinese, Indian, Italian, and Mexican were out favourites while I was growing up. When I moved to Toronto for university I discovered sushi and Korean BBQ. I was raised a carnivore, I knew nothing else, and I grew into adulthood happily eating meat and dairy on a daily basis.

One summer day two years ago I warmed up a bowl of beefy chili and sat down on the couch to watch Sharkwater, a Canadian documentary about the shark hunting industry. It is not a film about veg*ism but, for some reason as the film progressed I found the beef I was eating began to taste differently. Finally something clicked and I knew I no longer wanted to meat. For the next year and a half I lived a pescetarian lifestyle. For the most part, I ate vegetarian, however I would indulge in all-you-can-eat sushi and shrimp stir fries and curries when the mood struck.

At first this dietary shift was motivated by beliefs and values involving sustainability. I’d taken a few geology courses as my science distribution requirement in university, mainly courses concerning earth system changes and human impact on the planet. I learned about the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the soil we live on. In my own time I read about food systems and came to realize how little most of us think about our food beyond how it tastes.

The more I read and learned, the more uneasy I felt about my pescetarian diet. In the fall of 2010 I began to think seriously about going vegan. Most people I spoke with thought veganism was a ridiculous choice. “What about cheese? And butter!?” “Where will you get your protein?” “I could never give up meat, it tastes too good.” Despite the negative feedback there was a little vegan fairy on my shoulder, whispering more and more loudly in my ear.

On January 1st, 2011, I went vegan.

Initially, I committed to one year as a vegan. I explained that it was my new year’s resolution whenever anyone would ask why I’d made the choice. I quickly realized, however, that it was much more than a one year resolution. Occasional cravings for cheese aside, I’ve found the transition to veganism very easy. It is a lifestyle I find so natural and feel wonderful about mentally, spiritually, and physically.

Recently I read a short article on Snargleplexon (The Door is not the Floor) wherein the reasons people adopt veganism, and consequently the reasons they will (or will not) remain vegan, are discussed. I agree with the article wholeheartedly; it echoes points I’ve made in the last few months to friends. I stopped eating meat two years ago for sustainability reasons. I cut out fish and dairy six months ago because I felt a calling I couldn’t fully explain. Today I am at a place where I can confidently say I am vegan. I believe in being kind and respectful to all living creatures as well as to the planet. My actions are no longer driven by sustainability alone. I am now governed by morals and ethics that took me 25 years to realize I had. Animal rights, health, and sustainability together form an ideological basis for the lifestyle I now lead.

I’m beyond excited to share the recipes, restaurants, products, and thoughts that shape my day-to-day life. This blog is intended to be a chronicle of my vegan journey, one I am now sharing with you, the internet. Thanks for taking the time to take part ^.^ 


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