My Anniversary

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So. Way back here I referenced *big changes* in my life over the past year or so. I never got back to the other Big Change, and since January is the One-Year Anniversary of The Big Change, this seems a good time to talk about it.

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One year ago I made the decision to go vegan.

No one was more shocked than I! I’ve always considered myself an animal lover, but never gave it much thought beyond “animals are sweet and soft and fuzzy and I love them.” I’ve always had animals – dogs, cats, horses, a mouse, a ferret, several rats, many birds, some turtles. The usual. But I didn’t really *think* that THOSE animals were the same as those BEEF animals or those EGG or MILK animals. Obviously I KNEW where bacon, bleu cheese, ice cream, etc. came from and yet I’d never really closed the circle in my mind. Somehow. Now I can’t even remember anymore what it feels like to NOT strongly connect the two.

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But last December, 2012, my daughter and I were spending the day in Brooklyn hitting a couple craft fairs for holiday gifts…and of course we needed to start the day at Dunwell Doughnuts, home of the THE greatest doughnuts on earth. It was incidental to me that they were VEGAN doughnuts. They were just AWESOME doughnuts! But on this particular day there was an exhibit hanging on the wall of framed vegan-centric slogan tee shirts. And one of the shirts just Hit Me. It said (something like) “You Can’t Really Call Yourself an Animal Lover if You Kill Animals for Food” – the slogan was better than my memory, but the point is, it just really…resonated with me. I’d been listening for awhile to stories of a friend with a son who was a long-time vegan and not thinking much of it, but now on tee-shirt day it just all…made me look at myself. And say for the first time, you know what? How *can* I call myself an animal lover if I’m responsible for their deaths? And then I went about my day not thinking much more about it…and even the few weeks after that…but the seed had been planted.

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I decided I wouldn’t “go vegan,” because certainly that would be next to impossible. If you’ve seen me, you know I am not a person with a lot of self-control in the food department. But I thought I would just start introducing more meatless meals into my diet. I’d heard of Meatless Monday and figured I could just ease myself in.

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But then I watched a documentary called Vegucated. Life. Changing. It’s not a gorey animal snuff film designed to “scare you straight.” It’s a story of three random people who underwent a 6-week experiment of living vegan. Under the watchful eyes of nutritionists, medical doctors, chefs, and each other, they were coached and helped along. Some made it, some did not. But I learned a lot from the film, and The Moment that it All Changed for Me, was just like a 1-minute scene from another documentary that the people went to see, of a pig. And how it goes to slaughter. How it was put on a “skin removing” machine WHILE IT WAS STILL ALIVE. And how it was dunked in scalding water WHILE IT WAS STILL ALIVE. And that was it for me. There was no “easing in.” I was done. From that moment on, No Animal Would Ever Again be Intentionally Harmed on MY Account.

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And one year later, I’m still in. And more dedicated to this lifestyle than ever. This is just My Story. I’m not trying to be preachy and say You Should Do This Too. But I *would* like to say that you are all stronger than you think. Old dogs can learn new tricks. You can change, learn, grow. You can do things you never thought you could.

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Sometimes it’s hard not to “preach” about something you feel so strongly about. But while I don’t want to be a preacher, I would like to be a teacher. So if anyone ever has a question, feel free to ask. I’m happy to help. I will from time to time share a little more about this. Maybe a recipe. Maybe a quote.

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These pictures are from this past fall when my daughter and I went to visit Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary (aka Just Like the Greatest Place on Earth). It was so great to get to meet and hang out with just the kinds of animals that my new lifestyle is protecting. And here’s the thing a lot of people don’t understand about “farm animals” vs “pets” – they have just as much personality, just as much love for life and comfort and freedom, they’re just as smart – as our dogs and cats that we protect so fiercely from harm. But how many people have spent the time to get to know One Cow or One Chicken in a loving, respectful environment, and learn that particular animal’s personality? They’re affectionate and gentle when treated well. They find comfort and joy in relationships with one another and with people. They have just as much right to a life free from harm as we all do.

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So. Just for a moment. Give this idea – maybe a new one to you – a little thought. Don’t just dismiss it out of hand. Just consider…living a more compassionate lifestyle.

Thank you for hearing my story.

8 thoughts on “My Anniversary

  1. Bettye, I have always been proud to call you my friend but this–I am blown away by every part of this post: the fact that it is hard to be vegan; the fact that you didn’t blather on about it; and your compassionate, sincere heart.

    • Dear Suzy! Thank you for saying I didn’t blather! I was concerned 🙂

      It’s easy to sing to the choir…but that’s not who you need to hear your song. I prefer to live by example…and to drop seeds now and then…and hope they grow in someone else’s mind and heart.

      So glad you read it! {{hugs}}

    • I’ve been good! I thought about reaching out to you yesterday – I did the Polar Bear Plunge today at Long Beach, was thinking a journalistic photographer would be a nice thing to have along 🙂 But I got busy or distracted or something and just never sent the email. But it was a cool experience, am glad I did it. What have you been up to? Shooting at all?

  2. Beautifully written! Thank you for sharing your journey. I switched about two weeks before Thanksgiving. I’ve given up everything but eggs. I’m finding them difficult to give up. I hope to wean myself soon. I can’t see ever going back to eating meat. It all makes sense now. My family is not on board, yet, but who knows? In time they may come to the decision on their own. Thank you again!!

    • Eggs were hard. Nothing’s like an egg sandwich for breakfast. But. Once you make the connection – 6 bites of yumminess = that sweet creature living a tortured life from day one to day last? No. That’s too steep a price. Eventually food cravings go away…and you find new yummy things. And cooking/baking with eggs is an easy-peasy change – chia seeds and flaxmeal and Ener-G – all work just as well. I can’t seriously tell or taste the difference in baked goods. But – YAY, YOU 🙂 Just keep doing your thing…I find feeding people is the greatest teacher.

      Thanks for reading my story!

  3. Bettye, I don’t personally know you but follow Woodstock sanctuary. I have been vegan for 9 years now and never turned back. I love animals too much to support the meat and dairy industry. If only the world felt the same way..there would no longer be any suffering. But at least you and I are doing something about it. Enjoy the wonderful animal free foods and enjoy your beautiful animals! Was nice to read your story.

    • Thanks for visiting Dora! I’m so happy to be meeting other vegans – both on- and off-line. Wow, 9 years! I’m amazed to think of the changes you’ve witnessed over that time – increasing acceptance of the vegan lifestyle, and more and more vegan products at mainstream stores and restaurants. I certainly hope the trends increase!

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