MY JOURNEY TO A PLANT-BASED DIET
My journey to a plant-based diet did not begin at home. In honour of World Vegan Day, I will share my story.
Our family of origin and my immediate family are all meat eaters. Dad supported our family by working as a machinist in an animal processing plant. Pork was cheap for the employees and we ate family favourites such as H-bone trimmings. My mother occasionally made rabbit stew, though I was never sure who had shot the rabbits. I knew no other way. This was back in the day when you ate what your Mom put on your plate. When I had my daughter 35 years ago, I taught her to be a meat eater too! My journey to a plant-based diet did not begin until I was 52 years old.
At that time I met Esther, Derek and Steve when I began volunteering at Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary (HEEFS). I was there every other weekend or so and we were asked to eat plant-based foods only while we were on the premises. This took a bit of research for me at the time, but I complied.
Volunteering at HEEFS became a more regular thing for me. For the first two years I continued to eat meat when I was not at HEEFS. As these things often happen, my aha moment came to be as the result of more than one factor converging at exactly the right time.
THE VISIT THAT CHANGED MY LIFE
I had been visiting New Brunswick with my beau. We were there to visit his son. What a beautiful place New Brunswick is. Morgan’s son Ben lived down this bumpy and very winding road not far from the water. In the evening this road became a playground for the wildlife. You could not drive it’s curves and bumps any faster than 30 or 40 km/hr at dusk or in the dark for fear of hitting an animal on the road. I do not recall how many dear we saw. I witnessed for the first time ever a porcupine moon bathing at the end of someone’s driveway. Ben told us about the families of dear who bed down on the grass on their property often in the evenings. It was a magical experience.
We were only there for a few days. We said our goodbye’s one evening and got up early the next day to head back to Ontario. As we merged onto the highway I pulled up behind a truck. This truck was full of pigs headed to slaughter. I saw their wee pink heart-shaped snouts and their eyes staring out at me. For the first time ever my brain made the connection between these adorable little beings, the wildlife I had seen over the past few days and the FATE OF THE PIGS ON THAT TRUCK!!
As tears filled my eyes, I passed this truck as I could not bear to see their eyes staring out at me any longer. We drove in silence for quite a while as Morgan did not make the same connection that I had. There were so many thoughts running through my head all at one time. How can I love April and her babies yet eat another pig slaughtered and put on my plate for dinner? Can I enjoy my chicken friends yet serve them up for dinner because white meat has less fat than red? How could I witness the beauty of the road Ben lived on, yet somehow separate one species from another and maintain it is okay to kill one species but not another?
That was that! I returned to Ontario and stopped eating meat immediately! I continued to eat fish and dairy at that time, as I learned that my transition was going to be a journey. Next I eliminated fish, then eggs and milk, but continued to eat cheese. I eliminated cheese completely in 2020.
I did come across a stumbling block on my journey. My daughter is a master baker and she bakes using dairy products. As my control in the area of sweats wanes, I have been eating dairy products in her amazing baked creations.
Any habits I have mastered in my life (like quitting smoking) have happened as the result of a well laid-out plan. I am learning to bake low fat, vegan options of some of my favourite recipes and planning a 2021 run at reducing the sugar in my diet. The plan is for these two goals to converge and end the eating of any animal products from Jan 01, 2021 on!!
There was no campaign at HEEFS to turn the volunteers into vegans. Rather, Derek and Steve led via the example of love and over time one begins to see the residents there as friends and family and not food. I will not go into the MANY MANY reasons why to choose a plant-based diet today, as this is not the purpose of this post. Today, I want only to honour World Vegan Day and tell you more about myself as I continue on my journey with livefatandfit.com and this blog. There are health benefits of course and down the road I will most likely share those, but not today.
Today I thank my vegan friends! This journey with you has been a light in my life!!