My news feed on Facebook is filled–well, memes of course, but also with people breathing out 2016 and embracing their goals of 2017. There are people who are celebrating that they didn’t smoke during the last year, and they will continue on, people who are quitting smoking this year, people who are declaring their exercise regiments, their upcoming sobriety and so on. All of which are met with well wishes and support because good for them for trying to better themselves!
My personal goal for 2017 is to write a page a day (at least), but also to participate in Veganuary. Veganuary is where you go vegan for the month of January. This is not the first time I’ve attempted to go vegan, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Though this time, I am purely doing it for the month of January, and I will go onto why. However, I’m intrigued, as I always am, by the amount of aggression I am met with when I decide to change something about my diet that isn’t simply taking out fatty or sugary foods.
I’ve been (mostly) pescatarian for the last nine years, which is vegetarian though with the addition of seafood. There have been some more recent slip ups, however, it’s something I’ve been been happy with. When I decided to do this, I had a fair amount of people who didn’t understand why I would do this, and would try and get me to eat meat. My parents didn’t really understand it either, my grandparents thought that meant that I still eat chicken (and they’re not the only ones, though I’m not really certain as to where the logic of that comes from), I had a few people try to literally wave steak under my nose to tempt me into eating it, and my ex’s family even once invited me over for dinner, knowing my dietary choices, and put meat in everything before telling me the salad was safe, though then putting chunks of ham in it.
I once wanted to test out whether or not I had a dairy or gluten sensitivity, which involved cutting both of those things out for a couple of months and then slowly introducing them back into my diet. Again, people lamented, would try and tempt me with cheese and the like.
Since telling some people that my goal is to go vegan for the month of January, I’ve had quote the backlash–people trying to tempt me with things I’ve said I wanted to try, people telling me about local cheese farmers, and even one person saying, “What’s the point? You’re not going to get anything out of it.”
Don’t worry, having been pescatarian for nine years, I’ve gained a thick skin when it comes to people commenting on my dietary choices.
However, I’m ever curious as to why it is that people feel the need to do it. They support people who want to make healthier dietary choices, just so long as it still includes meat, eggs and dairy. Firstly, I’m not really certain as to why people feel that they have the right to comment on what I eat or experiment eating, at all. And secondly, they don’t bother to actually listen to me when I try to tell them exactly why I’m doing what I’m doing. They just hear that it’s not what they’re doing.
So allow me to illustrate why it is that I’m choosing to participate in Veganuary 2017:
- Environmentally friendly
I’m huge on trying to help the environment, and in my current position, there’s little I can really do other than being conscious of what I buy and from where I buy it. However, I do know and understand that the meat and dairy industries are extremely wasteful, and raising livestock in the manner of factory farms is extremely harmful for the environment.
I’ve had people in the past tell me that protesting eating meat/dairy doesn’t make a difference to protest by cutting out meat–after all, I’m just one person. However, due to many people taking on less meaty diets, the meat industry has been steadily decreasing by 10% since 2017. I can’t find the statistic now, unfortunately, though I will say that I recall reading that in 2014, the meat industry lost 14% of profits due to a movement called Meatless Mondays, where people just don’t consume meat one day a week.
This is important because it takes an excruciating amount of water to raise one cow, one chicken, or one pig. Then farms have to deal with their waste, which contaminates underground water reserves that many people rely on. The Meatless Monday website reports that it takes an estimate 1,850 gallons of water just to produce one pound of beef.
Many people forget that the dairy industry will use ample water as well, since it does have to keep those cows, goats and sheep raised. And let’s not forget the eggs!
I am of course, talking about mass-producing farms/factory farms. There are many farms with ethical and sustainable practices, and I am grateful to say that I worked for one. However, especially with my upcoming lack of work, I can’t afford to support those farms. So in the mean time, I would like to start my year with a protest to the big industry.
- Get back on track to a healthier lifestyle
I’ve gone through a rough year–every one has. Though when I go through a rough time, I find that I forget how to eat. Especially with moves and breakups. I find that all my abilities go into survival-through-the-stress mode, and I simply forget what it was that I used to cook, how I used to eat. I know that I used to be a healthy eater, but I can’t remember what kind of thought I would put into planning a meal.
So forcing myself to think about what I’m eating is a really good way to get back into that. I used to have a great interest in nutrition, and still do. I just have to remember that spark. By eliminating something from my diet, I then have to be a conscious shopper, cook, and consumer. It means that I’m paying attention to ingredients again, and I’m not buying insta-foods either. I’m cooking in bulk, and I’m remembering what it’s like to have home-cooked food again. And I’m making sure that I am having eclectic meals that will ensure I’m getting the nutrients i’ll be lacking, which sparks creativity. I do love to be creative in the kitchen.
- Personal perseverance
It’s just good to have goals, and the more challenging they are, the better you feel when you’re done, especially when it’s something for a better lifestyle. Knowing you can do the touch stuff can help someone set harder goals and aim higher. Right now, after this last year, I feel like I need to accomplish some of those touch goals.
So when someone talks about going vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, vegan, any of those things that is against the norm regarding food, be supportive and recognize that they’re trying to better themselves. Help them come up with recipes, find alternatives, and just be a friend as you would trying to help someone cut back on smoking or alcohol. Be supportive. Don’t be a jerk.