Friday, 5 August 2011

Why am I doing this again?

I left Vancouver two days ago by plane for Toronto (4 1/2 hours). Yesterday I travelled by train to Ottawa (4 hours), and I'm on the way back to Toronto (another 4 hours). In short, a lot of thinkin' time. In between catching up on True Blood episodes, anyway.

This thinking I'm doing ranges from the geeky music geniuses of which I am quite fond, right through to the bigger questions. I'd guess travelling does this to a lot of people. Different geography, disorientation, meeting new people or friends not seen for years. It's thrilling and exhausting. One of my reasons for taking the train to Ottawa was to inject some downtime into an otherwise frantic five-day break. Here I am at the halfway point, and the belly-button gazing is in full effect.

I would describe myself as a high-energy person. I flit between work and social and family and sport activities like a speed-addicted hummingbird. If something intrigues me, I want to dive in and explore it, live it and breathe it. I am impulsive, indulgent, and curious about everything. Before I gave up eating meat, I worried that the most likely reaction from my friends and family would be 'ah yes, another of her fads'. Maybe part of me thought that as well. Was I doing this as a reaction to something? As a test? The longer I ponder this, the less I'm sure about why this all got started in the first place. The first blog entry I wrote wasn't that illuminating, more a representation of what reasons others give when they go veggie. And anyway, I don't know that my thought processes back then have any bearing on what I'm doing now. I'm over six months into this now, closer to nine actually, and it feels like a good time to evaluate progress.

Above all, my decision was based on the urge to live more compassionately, less hypocritically. Spending a great deal of time ensuring the happiness of one domestic cat, while contributing to the cruel captivity and slaughter of countless other animals - it no longer added up. Conscientious carnivore that I was, I faced the facts - no animal wants or deserves an unhappy existence or stressful end. Once I made that connection, meat just didn't taste as good.

As for the health reasons, nine months in, I FEEL better. My body doesn't miss meat. I would agree that my improved health is a result of a combination of changes, not just vegetarianism, but it was the first step towards a more conscious life. At first, I did what most new veggies do - aimed my shopping cart squarely at the diary section. I ate more cheese, yogurt, CREAM... it was like I had an excuse! That all came to a head in London, where in menu terms 'vegetarian' translates as 'cheese with a side of cheese'. I love cheese. Cheese does not love me (a point proven by Jennifer last month). A card-carrying dairy addict since early childhood, I have all but eliminated it from my diet. Six months ago that would have been unthinkable. Now, meh - take it or leave it. Parmesan, goat's feta and goat's milk are still great resources for variety, but if I go a week without, well, I just do. I miss eggs, but I had a couple last weekend and they made me feel like crap. Like, REALLY bad. I don't miss feeling like that. So, here I am, a former uber-omnivore, baby steps away from being a full-on vegan. I'm satisfied that the animal products I do buy are coming from sources where animals are treated with respect and kindness.

The non-food question.

I bought a leather handbag from Roots this year, almost without thinking. It was perfect for what I needed. I love it - but a few months down the road, I don't know that I would buy it again. I could probably find one of the same size and style that didn't originally belong on the side of a cow. I have a lot of animal-product items that I have a deep and abiding love for. Mulberry and Radley handbags. Countless pairs of leather shoes and boots. A goose down duvet. Duck feather pillows - a lot of them. I own FUR (there I said it). I can't bring myself to ponder too long about the lives those foxes endured before ending up on my coat hanger. So pretty / ugly / luxurious / awful. I'm conflicted. Fortunately, living in Vancouver means the choice is made for me - wear it at my peril... so in the closet it remains. I stroke it occasionally. This makes me feel like a glamorous and horrible person all at the same time - like I said, conflicted.

That said, it makes no sense to chuck any of these items out as they're all still well within their usable lives. If I discarded them before their time, surely that's just adding insult to an injurious situation? I don't see that I'll need to replace any of these things tomorrow, but I'm sure that moment will come, and then what? I don't even like touching synthetic duvets, let alone sleep under one every night. Anyone got any good suggestions?