|Animals Are Individuals||Climate Change||Food Justice||Fashion|
|Chickens||Water Usage||Indigenous People||Entertainment|
|Turkeys & Other Birds||Pollution||Hunger & Starvation||Personal Care|
|Fish & Aquatic Animals||Air Pollution||Workers' Rights|
|Cows||Trees & Land||Farmers' Rights|
|Pigs||Wild Animals||Safer Communities|
|Goats & Sheep||Oceans||Wars for Resources|
|Humane Alternatives||Future Generations|
|Wild Animals||Human Health|
My Journey to Veganism
By Kim Miles
Like many people I’ve talked to and read about, my journey to the Vegan Side followed a long and winding path. As a kid in the 60’s, my sisters and I had a mom who was a renowned meat-and-potatoes cook, and a dad who loved to hunt and fish. Except for the fact that I often made excuses to go down the hall to the bathroom during dinner, so I could spit out a hunk of meat, I assumed our family diet was standard and normal, and healthy.
Jump ahead to 1974, when my sister came home grief stricken over an afternoon spent with friends who were slaughtering a calf. Even though we’d all grown up plucking ducks, cleaning fish, and eating meals of venison and elk, the disconnect between the what was on our plates and the actual animals who became the meals remained in place until the moment my sister actually witnessed the killing of a living creature. I wasn’t there with her, but once she told me the story, we both declared on the spot that we were immediately going vegetarian.
Mom took it in stride, using her teenage daughters’ dietary rebellion as an excuse to get creative in the kitchen. There was still a lot of dairy, particularly cheese, in our food, but she was willing and able to turn out wonderful meals without meat that would even satisfy our dad.
Over the next 30 years or so I lost my focus more than once, depending on where I was and who I was hanging out with. I was an intermittent vegetarian for years, until a pivotal moment one day in the family-owned pizza shop my husband and I started in Seattle in the early 90’s. As the Pizza Queen I had my hands in tubs of toppings much of the time. I remember the moment when the greasiness of the sausage just became too much for me. I realized what I was really looking at, and I switched back to vegetarian on the spot. At this point, like a lot of “vegetarians,” I still ate fish. The disconnect was still there for me, and although I didn’t really think of fish as a vegetable, I also didn’t think of it as an animal that felt pain and valued its life. I still had a lot to learn.
Fast forward to April of 2010. My husband and I were living in Ashland, Oregon, and while I was still a fish-eating vegetarian, or “pescatarian,” Rick was enjoying lots of meaty bar-b-ques with friends. I wasn’t feeling all that great though, and as an over-50 woman who was starting to gain weight and lose energy, it began to dawn on me that maybe cheese - and even fish - were not really my friends. Maybe it was time to reconsider my diet once again. Then right on cue, I heard about Alicia Silverstone’s book, The Kind Diet on Facebook, and went straight to Amazon to order it. I devoured the book like a plate of nachos, and came to the clear and obvious conclusion that it was time to give a vegan diet a shot.
I proposed the idea to Rick, who was reluctant to give up meat and cheese, but still open to the idea of feeling better. He was coming to a similar conclusion to mine - that meat was not making him feel anything but sluggish and weighed down. He read The Kind Diet too, and agreed to “try vegan” for a month, and then see what we wanted to do from there. The clincher for him was one last bar-b-que with friends on Easter, where the chicken they cooked was particularly greasy, and also under-cooked. It made him feel sick, and also made it easy to go vegan the very next day.
The two of us had a great time cooking and eating cleaner, lighter food, and within just a few days we were feeling cleaner and lighter ourselves. Before the first week was over, we were both convinced that this was something we wanted to continue with. Our friends, however, were not on board. People who don’t “get it” aren’t going to get it just because someone close to them does. And people who love eating meat can’t imagine doing without it. Our social life suffered a bit, but it was worth it. For us what mattered was that we were feeling great, and quickly starting to look better than we had in years. So we kept going.
As these four years have passed, Rick and I have both become more dedicated than ever to our vegan ways. I’ve lost over 50 pounds, have run two half marathons, and now for the first time in my life I have the energy and inspiration to exercise every day. Both of us now have healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and we feel better than we did ten years ago. Our own health alone would be enough to keep us going, but we’ve also developed deeper interests in animal rights issues as well as the environmental impact of our diets on the planet. Embracing the Big Three (reasons for going vegan) has turned our diet into a complete lifestyle.
Many of our friends and family members still don’t get it, but they’ve gotten used to it, and some of them are even beginning to sample a vegan diet for themselves. We realize we’re part of a minute percentage of the population, but every day more and more people are going vegan and plant-based. It’s not always easy being at the cutting edge of a global shift, which is how I see veganism. But a little commitment - and a lot of amazing food - make it easier by the day to walk our talk, and also to talk our walk. After a lot of false starts along the way, I finally really get it. Fish is not a vegetable, cow’s milk is for baby cows, and there’s no magic ingredient in meat that makes it necessary for human health. I am whole-heartedly vegan, and I know there’s no going back. Only forward.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kim Miles is a vegan cook, blogger, food coach, and kitchen activist living in Taos New Mexico. She can be reached through her website, http://www.positivelyveganlife.com.