the elephant in the room, and big changes (again).

Sometimes trying to live my values is so, so hard.

Because the world is set up to be disposable.
Because some people enjoy pointing out my failures, to justify their own lack of action.
Because I can’t control the entire household.
Because sometimes I have to make compromises.
Because no matter how much I am doing, I could always be doing more.
Because when you actually CARE about things, it can seem hopeless and futile.
Because no matter how much I am doing, I’m only one person and it can be a little defeating.
Because sometimes I realize the hypocrisy in some of my actions.

But then there are days when those very things are what motivate or inspire me to do more. It’s a very zen thing to do, and to be honest, I’m not exactly sure how I got here. But where I used to feel discouraged pretty regularly about things, lately I have been just accepting the feeling, learning from it, then resolving to do what I can to do better myself. It’s taken me 33 years to realize that separating what I can and can’t control is the best way to be productive. It gives me a place to start without feeling overwhelmed, because it lowers the scope of the problem to a reasonable level.

But more importantly than that – separating the big impacts from the little ones is more powerful still. And I am finally ready to stop skirting the issue. For me, there’s been one big elephant in the room for three years now. Eating animals.

Six years ago, I pledged to go vegetarian, and I happily kept it up for a few years (mostly vegan), even through pregnancy. Then I had a baby. The vegetarian freezer meals I had prepared for the first couple of weeks after giving birth were supplemented by lovely neighbors bringing things like chicken alfredo and drive-thru meals of..whatever.. picked up by my husband. I wasn’t truly prepared for a newborn who hated to sleep, who was constantly fussy, who wanted to nurse for only 2 minutes every 20 minutes around the clock. I just completely relapsed as every priority I had – my health, the planet, and animals – just got completely eclipsed by a tiny human who consumed my heart, time, and sanity.

Obviously as babies grow, they quickly get easier in some ways, but present new challenges with every milestone. Cooking the entire Veganomican cookbook was a pre-kid goal I had and I just laughed at the thought of even attempting to cook involved vegan meals, knowing I also need to have a plan B on hand for my husband in case the Seitan Pot Pie was just too weird for his liking. And then, well, I just kind of fell into eating meat out of habit. We mostly ate vegetarian, but I was cooking and eating meat once or twice a week or so just for variety, feeling guilty about it all the while. I am not even sure why I did it.

But suddenly my reasons for making a change finally are glaringly bigger than my excuses not to.

I haven’t lost any of my pregnancy weight.
I feel like garbage, physically and mentally, and I know it’s because of my diet.
I have made huge efforts to lower my impact to the planet, while ignoring the single biggest thing I can do.
I truly to love animals, and have willfully ignored their suffering for my own convenience, when I know better.
I try to instill compassion and caring for Earth in my daughter, but have failed her in ignoring this.

But like I said – those are just facts. Not sources of guilt. Dwelling on the guilt and the past will not change anything. All I can do is move forward. I can just change what I do today.

cowspiracy

So, I’m going vegetarian again – transitioning to mostly vegan. I have not completely decided about going vegan. I will still be cooking for non-vegetarians, so adding a little cheese sometimes seems like a good compromise. We have also been considering quite seriously, getting backyard laying chickens. The ethical/environmental concerns over eating backyard chicken eggs are pretty minuscule to me – they would be named, loved, and spoiled (and would put my kitchen scraps to great use). So I am putting some thought into that. But as for dairy, I’ve always had an easy time cutting out about 75% of my consumption of it – so I think I’ll be able to work up to it at home (it’s out of the house I struggle with).

{Image from the documentary Cowspiracy, which is excellent. I highly recommend watching this film to learn about the environmental impacts of animal agriculture. It’s now on Netflix. Watching this was honestly the tipping point for me.}

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