Please allow me to explain my family’s dietary lifestyle choice, but first just let me make myself a ham and cheese sandwich. Kidding. I haven’t eaten a pig (on purpose) since 1990. I may have scarfed down some bacon in a hungover daze or ingested the occasional undetected bacon bit in a Caesar salad over the years, but for the most part, there is never intentional pork on my fork.
I wasn’t really a meat lover growing up, but I tucked in because I needed the meat derived protein. Hello, Canada Food Guide conspiracy. More on that in an upcoming post. My family ate mostly chicken, fish, and the occasional lamb chop—to be clear, I was really only interested in the mint jelly sauce. Steak at our house was rare (as in infrequent, but cooked to a leathery chew-until-next-Tuesday texture). We ate eggs and drank milk, because, ahem…healthy. Little did we know milk, touted for its mega calcium propelled bone building properties, was in fact leaching the calcium from our bones. More on THAT later too. Spoiler alert: Casein is a dietary devil cloaked in a milky white washed dairy deception.
In 1990, my first year at university, I wrote a paper on the use of animals for cosmetic testing for my Deviant Behaviours class. I was horrified. We all know now about the pointless cruelty and suffering involved in such testing. It’s disgusting. During that course of study I read John Robbins’, “Diet for a New America” and it changed the way I thought about food and where it comes from. I became a card carrying vegetarian immediately. I was of the ovo-lacto variety because eggs weren’t actual animals (I know, I know. I had no idea at that time about the horror of factory farming) and milk because god knows, we as full grown adults NEED to drink the milk of another species. Not creepy at all, and compleeeeeetely necessary for our overall well being. Yes, that was dripping with sarcasm.
I ate a vegetarian diet happily for ten years. I was a healthy weight, my hair shone like a golden retriever’s, my skin was clear, I had loads of energy, I didn’t bloat. Life was compassionately delicious.
But from the moment our first child was conceived, the cravings hit hard. I needed it. I wanted it. I had to have it. Mmmmmeat. I couldn’t get it into my face fast enough. They knew us by name at The Keg by the time Sebastian was born. My husband jokes that the first time I wrapped my lips around a t-bone (not a euphemism) it was like a scene from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.
After our second child was born and I finished nursing, the cravings and the idea that “meat was necessary” faded away and my husband and I adopted a Flexitarian lifestyle. People think we made up that term. It’s really is a way of eating and it’s diet we’ve followed until recently.
We offered both of our children meat and dairy when they were ready—chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, milk and cheese. Sebastian, with the exception of cheese and yogurt detested all of them. To this day, cows milk makes him gag. When he was a toddler, he would ask, “What did this used to be?” (he was asking about the origins of his chicken fingers). “A chicken,” we told him. He didn’t like that answer. Not at all.
Flash forward to today—Sebastian is nearly twelve and has strong opinions about the world. He believes it is wrong to kill animals unnecessarily. And he’s right. I know he’s right, but I also know how tasty turkey bacon is along side my eggs and buttered toast.
Last year, for a variety of reasons, we began transitioning over to a vegan diet. I was comfortable preparing vegetarian cuisine, so
the switch to vegan dishes wasn’t too difficult. Watching the documentary “Forks Over Knives” (currently running on Netflix Canada) sealed the deal for us. Have you seen it? If not, it’s worth watching. Unlike other docs like “If Slaughter Houses Had Glass Walls” (which is also excellent and eye opening, but not in the shocking sensationalized way you might expect) it focuses on the significant health reasons for following a vegan diet. In light of some recent health issues in our family, this switch made sense to us.
So why do we call ourselves veganish? Because that label—because everything needs a label, right? (sorry, more drippy sarcasm)—fits us perfectly. We are among a growing new breed of human feeders. We try to make smart, healthy and kind choices when we shop. We know plant based is best, but sometimes (maybe once a month) we choose to indulge in a slice of organic free-range chicken breast. And sometimes, when we’re shopping at Ikea and we’re super tired and starving, and our kids aren’t with us, we *might* lapse into our old ways and have a 99 cent hotdog on the fly. I know. Please don’t judge. I was really, really hungry and not thinking straight. Also, I suspect Ikea hotdogs have pork in them and are not in fact 100% beef as I had believed them to be. So maybe forget that whole intro bit about no pork on my fork. Apparently, I am not perfect after all.
Hard core vegans do not think highly of us veganish folks. And that’s unfortunate. About 90% of the time we live a vegan lifestyle. The other 10% is well… Ikea hotdog-leather-couch-ice-cream-cone-on-a-hot-day-scrambled-eggs-fishsticks-but-the-expensive-kind-gouda.
I’m truly sorry full-on vegans, but we veganish families do our best. We love animals and are absolutely revolted by the cruel and unnecessary torture they endure because of greedy, gross humans. We can and must do better. Much better. Every time I see a pig truck drive by on their way to their death, I get angry and then tear up.
And I understand that the casein protein in dairy products is toxic. It is a proven cancer trigger. I know this, but yet I sometimes send cheese strings to school with my daughter because it’s the one thing I know she will eat.
We all make choices—some good, some bad, some ignorant, some just plain lazy. The more vegan and less -ish we become, the more satisfied I feel about the choices I’m making for my family. We have a long way to go, but we’re getting there, one bean curd stir-fry at a time.
Being veganish means we try to live a herbivore life in a carnivore world as best we can. It’s personal and it’s nobody else’s business to criticize us when we fall short. Being veganish isn’t black and white. This lifestyle has shades of grey—hence the header image for this post. See what I did there?
Please feel free to follow along here—the stories, recipes, the hits and misses. Or better still, join us!
And please know I won’t judge. If you accidentally fall face first
into a pot roast or buy a pair of cool leather Frye boots, you won’t be
ousted from this club. We all want to do what’s
best—what is kind, compassionate, healthy, green—but everyone stumbles along the
way and that’s okay.