Yesterday was the eight week mark of continuous veganism for me; I have committed to all of 2010 as a vegan. I have found a strong network of support on line and in person, and am delighted at how easy it’s been to maneuver in our society with my commitment. Being gluten-free (a health restriction) is actually more of a challenge than being animal-product-free (an ethical decision). People love to ask me about my decision, and I like to talk about it, usually. I am surprised when people tell me that they “should be vegetarian but couldn’t do it.” That suggests that there is a general awareness of the social, environmental and animal welfare impacts of everything we eat, where it comes from, and what it costs, but that it is too easy to disregard these facts in favor of a meat-based diet.

Here’s the story of why I am now a vegan. I make my own dog food because one of my dogs has serious health problems that are controlled, in part, through diet. I have raised and butchered my own poultry; I know that my chickens and ducks have had the best possible lives, and I strive to make their deaths quick and painless. I know first-hand what the carcass of a happy, foraging, backyard chicken looks like. In December, I bought ten pounds of chicken leg quarters at 49 cents per pound from the grocery store to make into dog food. I thought it was a great bargain. I cooked the chicken and, while de-boning it, found that almost every quarter had a bone that was malformed or showed evidence of one or more healed breaks. I realized that almost every one of the chickens had spent their lives with inflamed joints and broken bones.

I undertook a serious self-education of the reality of commercial animal processing. It turns out that animal welfare is only one part of the problem; our food production system has calamitous consequences on personal and public health, the environment and our society. I have been a vegetarian and vegan in the past, but had not fully accepted the reality of our food network; now I get it. I recommend that anyone interesting in understanding the system should watch “Food, Inc.” and read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I’ve got more to read, too. By constantly thinking and learning about the consequences of my food choices, I find constant validation for my decision. In brief, here are ten of the reasons why I love being a vegan:

I refuse to support an employment system categorized by high-stress, hazardous and emotionally brutal task repetition.

I’ve reduced my carbon foot print.

I don’t participate in our country’s industrial animal-processing system that allows the occasional skinning and butchering of alive, aware animals as a “standard industry practice” that is thereby exempt from animal welfare laws.

I believe in the value and diversity of heritage livestock and poultry breeds.

I don’t have to worry about cross-contamination of kitchen utensils.

I get enough protein from beans, nuts, seeds, grains, veggies and occasional soy products.

I’ve slashed my grocery budget.

Eating out is cheaper, too.

I am full after every meal and eat regular snacks. Almost everything I eat is good for me.

I weigh less than I did two months ago.


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    Note from
    Mary Alzire

    Thank you for taking the time to visit my site.  You can comment on any post by clicking its title. I welcome your comments and questions.

    "The Year of the Vegan" is a diary of my challenges and triumphs during 2010 - a year in which I will not consume any animal products. This commitment is motivated by my disgust about the hidden and externalized environmental, social and societal  costs of our nation's food network. Join me considering what we eat, and why.

    This year is also a year of personal transitions - from graduate student and freelance writer living in rural southwestern Virginia to fully-employed DC resident.


    August 2010
    July 2010
    June 2010
    May 2010
    April 2010
    March 2010
    February 2010
    January 2010