It was my 29th birthday dinner, and my good friend Jessica (vegan) was in attendance. I jokingly told her that since she was a vegan, I assumed all she could have for dinner was pencil shavings and a glass of tepid water. Insensitive? Yes. Funny? Somewhat. Now it seems, the joke is on me.
After stumbling upon the PETA website last August, I made the decision to become a more ethical consumer. I was horrified by the cruelty of factory farming, and wanted to make an impact. I told my brother of my decision, and he shared a terrible story of how the farm hands at a particular poultry plant stick their fingers inside the birds’ vaginas as they go up the kill chute. No, I decided, I definitely didn’t want to eat anything that had been finger banged before it ended up on my plate. And if you think I am being gross, try watching Meet Your Meat. That’s really gross.
This decision presented a bit of a challenge for me for several reasons. Number one, I am a gourmet enthusiast. I delight in trying new foods. Obscure goats milk cheese that’s only produced 3 months of the year in Spain? I want it. A poached egg infused with truffle oil? Sign me up. I once tracked down a famous fois gras eatery in Montreal simply because I had heard about their coveted Duck In A Can.
The other concerns I had were how my lifestyle choice would impact my friends and family. In my family, food is the focus of family gatherings. We are all very good cooks, and we like to cook and boast of our culinary prowess. Would I become stigmatized? Would I be gnawing judgmentally on a carrot at thanksgiving dinner, while my family feasted on turkey and urged me to give up my hippie-like notions of saving the world one chicken at a time?
In the end, my instincts won me over. I knew in my heart I didn’t want to support the factory farming industry. I also knew that my body was telling me it was time for a change. For the last year or so, I had been feeling drained, heavy, and lethargic. I didn’t have the energy I used to. My skin had lost its glow, and even after a full night of sleep I didn’t feel refreshed. I felt old, thick and loaded with toxins.
So, let’s fast forward to the present. I have spent the last month transitioning out of eating meat into lacto-ovo-pescatarianism. I’ve been keeping eggs, dairy and seafood in my diet, as I don’t believe in making drastic lifestyle changes. I also don’t want this transition to be a negative experience, or else I know I will not be able to sustain it in the long run.
The next step for me is to become promiscuous with the habits of my vegan friends. I will be opening my life to the benefits of a vegan lifestyle and documenting my foils along the way. I’m also vowing to see this phase of my life as an exploration of what I can gain from eating as a vegan, instead of what I’m losing by not eating animal products.
Who is Jenny Duffy? Click here to find out!
~The Vegan Project