I was a reluctant vegan. There is no doubt about it. I was also a resentful, pissed off, angry vegan. To be honest I was not pleasant to be around. I had a great big “I have to do this” vegan chip on my shoulder. You see I did not have a choice. I was diagnosed with a disease where conventional medicine does not offer much hope in terms of recovery. 1 year after diagnosis, I was onto my 4th Neurologist (I will not use an adjective for this species; if you have nothing nice to say, it is better to say nothing at all). I had twice been put on a medication that I genuinely believed was going to kill me. When I told one Neurologist that I found it difficult to function on the medication he was insisting I go back on, his response was “well you will find it a lot harder to cope when you are in a wheel-chair”. He was a gem.
Then I found George Jelinek and his evidence based, medical based research was to me a no-brainer. So lifestyle change it was. But even though it was the only glimmer of hope I had found in a year (and it was not a glimmer, it was a great big ball of fire type of hope), I was still resentful. All I could think about was my Dacquoise with white chocolate cream, my bacon and egg sandwiches, cheese cake dripping with lemon curd and Burgers so good they made your eyes roll back in your head. Initially I just did not get it. Instead I focussed on what I was going to be missing out on. I saw the rest of my life as an endless buffet of lentils, tofu and bowls of dahl. I was momentarily in hell. It took me some time, possibly another year to lose the resentment and start to actually enjoy the process of eating in a way that was going to guarantee me a long, healthy and happy life. The more I experiment with food, the more I wonder what new recipes I am going to cook, the more I revisit a growing number of vegan favourites, the more I realise that for a while I was possibly nothing short of being a little resentful turd.
I had a bad week with my chickens last week. I was away for work and my mum alerted me to the fact that the gate had been left open. They have a lovely big old shed in the middle of my ramshackle old yard and the back half of the yard is fenced off from the dogs. If that doesn’t make sense, just image a big old overgrown yard with a tin shed in the corner that is usually securely fenced. My chickens have a happy free ranging home. Mum had found Bossy, my big rooster wandering in the front yard and had managed to get him back into the shed, but as my two children were with her she had not wanted to check out the rest of the damage. I was heart-broken and imagined Bossy stumbling about the yard in a Post-traumatised daze and I could not imagine any other survivors. I had 5 hens, 6 toddlers and 3 new babies and I could not think that they had survived Kevin and Rosie unleashed.
I did not sleep all night and got up at 6am to drive home. When I got home, one of my hens was dead and 2 of the babies and 1 of the toddlers had gone to a better chicken place. I was so thankful that that was the only damage. But from the look of the coop and the feathers everywhere I was certain that they had been terrorised for several hours and that broke my heart. So I spent the next few mornings with the chooks. Bossy was guarding his brood, the toddlers had lost their mum, but a hen who had lost her tail feathers was valiantly looking after them. They were usually friendly chickens but those first few mornings after the gate episode they appeared more human than I could ever explain. Then I realised something else, for a long time I have included seafood in my diet but I realised looking at Bossy guarding his hens that I could not remember the last time I had eaten seafood. And I had lost the desire. It seems that somehow I had gone from being a reluctant vegan to a vegan full stop.
I am not sure what the tipping point was for me. Perhaps it was a huge help that I am making tastier meals that are a genuine treat to eat rather than a perceived ordeal. Perhaps it was Cecil the Lion and that awful dentist. Perhaps it was Arturo the Polar Bear floundering in an Argentinian Zoo. Or maybe it was realising that I simply love my chickens and their personalities. It could have also been watching “Black Fish” – now whenever seafood crosses my mind I think of Tillikum floundering in captivity and seafood makes me want to cry. It could have been a diagnosis. It could have been lots of things.
I am not sure what it was. But at some stage I become a vegan without a hint of reluctance. 2 1/2 years ago I would never have thought it possible. In fact I have simply gone all Pollyanna about it. It makes me glad.