Saturday, July 25, 2009

Action and reaction...

A couple of weeks ago, I decided - not for the first time - to stop eating animal products.

Some would call this veganism, but I'm finding that a) being vegan encompasses so much more than what I'm doing. It's not only not eating animal products for whatever reason, but also not consuming ANYTHING animal, which also means medications and cosmetics that were tested on animals, or animal conpanionship for assistance, such as guide dogs - and well, considering that one day I might need a guide dog, I'm not sure I'll ever be vegan in the proper sense of the word. But also, I'm not sure about the whole "no wool" thing, as my main issue is with consuming death, and as far as I know, sheep aren't routine killed for their wool...

Anyway, that wasn't really the point of this blog, but rather all the varied reactions I've experienced from close friends through to strangers...

Changing your diet for something other than life threatening allergies doesn't seem to sit well with a lot of people, and even to the point where I've felt that somehow my decision to not eat animals and their products has been viewed as my just trying to make other people's lives difficult or not as enjoyable.

Really, I'm not trying to do this, and as much as I can, I'm trying to "bear the weight" of this lifestyle choice as much as I can myself. My boys (including Dh) still get their 3-4 animal product dinners a week, and I'm making the effort to find tasty recipes for them to eat the other nights (so far, so good, no complaints).

I'm baking (ME!!! That's right!) vegan cakes and what not to take to afternoon teas and get togethers.

I'm definitely NOT expecting anyone to accommodate me, or do what I do.

So, why do I feel that somehow this choice is not acceptable to a lot of people? That I should apologise for it, or "get over it and eat animal" because others don't really "believe" in what I'm trying to do for myself - lighten my spirit a bit by not consuming what I perceive as fear sodden products? I don't mind at all that other people don't feel this way about the same products or that it doesn't affect them the same way.

I guess it's one of those Western things though. Spiritual well-being is not weighted the same as physical well-being. If eating dairy made me violently physically ill due to lactose intolerance, people might understand better (it does affect me, btw, just not violently, though it's certainly not comfortable). If eating meat or eggs caused me to stop breathing, again, I think people would understand.

That these products make me feel spiritually unwell, heavy, depressed, chaotic, well that's just nonesense, or so it seems.

I'm finding that aspect of not eating animal products much harder than the actual changes in diet, and even harder than not just being able to walk into a food court and pick something warm and tasty to eat like I have in the past (I do love "fast food")...

Dave and the boys have been supportive - probably because it hasn't impacted them at all. I don't know how supportive the rest of my family will be though.

Not all the reactions have been negative, mind you. I've had a few people say they admire me, LOL, which is kind of strange to me, because I don't feel what I'm doing is that hard, now that I've made the decision (except when I worry about other people feeling put out), and I don't want anyone else to feel like my choice is in any way a judgement on them, because I'm doing this because of how animal products impact on my well being. Just as not every is allergic to bee stings, I don't expect everyone to be impacted by animal products the way I feel impacted.

Ayway, one week of dedicated non-animal product eating (I should call it NAPE, hehehe), and feeling good!


Juniper said...

Soooo glad you are feeling good!

(quote) So, why do I feel that somehow this choice is not acceptable to a lot of people? (unquote)

I am wondering, *is it* not acceptable to a lot of people, or is it your *perception* that it isn't acceptable? Eg. have people given you the impression they find your choice is wrong, or are you worried that they may feel that way? Does that make sense?

I personally think that it is nobody else's business whether people want to be omnivores, vegetarians, vegans etc..., or *why* people make the choices they make. You certainly shouldn't feel you need to explain your motives or reasons behind your eating choices. You need to do what *you* need to do to keep yourself healthy, physically and emotionally yk?

I actually admire your ability to go from eating one way to another so quickly and reasonably easily, because I *personally* would struggle with that, without making changes gradually. But that is *me*, not *you* yk? Each of us does things in different ways, and the way you can jump so fully into and embrace something is something I really think is fabulous about you!

Rachael said...

I've seen articles recently saying that it's now 'trendy' to have a food intolerance...much in the way that dieting in general follows trends. This realy irks me. Just b/c my son won't die if he eats gluten, doesn't mean that keeping him gluten free does not make a significant difference to his and our lives!

Anyway that's a bit off topic but fwiw I think people need to keep some of their opinions to themselves! What you do or don't put in your body of course is entirely your choice.

And I guess the admiration bit is just people's way of saying I haven't made the step yet even though I feel I probably should. I like meat and don't have issues with eating animals, but there is a huge environmental impact from raising cattle for example which does concern me. And also from a health standard I would say the western diet is generally too meat heavy.

Juniper said...

nak, i totally agree with you Stitchsista, re: grrr at media talking about food intolerances being "trendy" and re: environmental impact of raising animals for meat consumption.

We definitely eat way too much meat as a society. we as a family prob eat chicken 2 X a week, red meat 1 - 2 X a week

cant type 1 handed lol

Jen said...

I get what you mean Sif and i think that the change that you have made pushes other people out of their comfort zones, which elicits a feeling threatened response.

When DD was young and had many intolerances I had people actually turn away from us, as dealing with it and the dietary differences was all too hard for them. It was easier for them to argue with the decision, ie. "but just try her on this and see if she is ok.." etc than except tht she has to eat differently.

I will jump in and say I admire you to. It's not that I feel you are doing something extremely hard, but more that you have made the decision to follow your beliefs and are succeeding, Something that wouldn't be an easy feat while the rest of your family are following a mostly different diet.

I am mad alongside you Stitch Sista about that food intolerances comment! Whenever I ask if there is egg in products (for dd) people say, "why is she allergic?" when i respond that she is intolerant I often get a look that pretty much equates to me wastng their time by asking. If a person cannot die from it then clearly it is just all in our heads and doesn't exist (intolerances that is) . It makes me so mad!

Sif Dal said...

Juniper, yes sometimes it does feel like people think it's wrong, not to single you out, but as you asked, lol, for example, you were worried about me depriving myself and also because I was a breastfeeding mother (and I appreciate that you were concerned), but ironically no one was worried when I wasn't eating any fresh fruit or vegies - I guess people assume you are unless you call ourself a fast foodarian, roflmao.

That's the thing tho, if you eat meat, dairy and eggs, people mostly don't care, but if you cut something out, you're going to extremes - and mostly, I think it's because people don't want to be embarrased if they don't understand or if they don't feel like making the effort because it doesn't affect them...

Jen, I had to cut out dairy, wheat +++ when L was breastfeeding and encountered a lot of, "it's not going to kill him if you...". The fact he'd scream for hour in pain due to an ulcerated oesophogus didn't alarm people at all... The same with E and cocoa - didn't cause him pain, just MADE him a pain because he became irritable and aggressive on the stuff... Oh and I was a mean mum for not letting him have chocolate at Easter...

If not consuming animal is a healthrisk for me while breastfeeding, then isn't that wrong?

But moreso, I'm certainly not trying to be an ASW, or a PITA, or extreme, this is just the next tentative step in my own journey, trying to have personal integrity, yk? AND. I've IMPROVED my diet, not diminished it...

Good Job!