I’ve had a lot of thoughts about this issue for quite some time. Am I a vegan these days, or a vegetarian who eats fish? At times it feels like you “need to know” and be strict about it, because if you’re not there’s always that chance for those moments when the “meat eaters” go after you and smirk at you that why are you eating this and this and I thought that you only eat some tofu stuff.
There’s this weird mentality that if you “only” eat veggies and want to be a vegan or a vegetarian, without bothering anyone with it, it still does. It somehow gives the idea to people that it’s their place to judge the choices I’ve made. What is it that that is worth the ridicule and why it doesn’t go the other way around? Is it that veggies are more tolerant or accepting of other peoples choices? Why don’t we feel the need to make a point of what the other one is eating every time?
I’ve had my own journey with food. I’ve had my own struggles with food and how it affects my mental health. I’ve had my own journey with almost toxic relationship with food and how I use it to either comfort or the exact opposite. I still see my body completely different than what it really is, because few times in my life I’ve gained a lot of weight and still have that mindset that I’m fat.
But on that journey has also been the joys food can bring, I’m very fortunate to grown up in an environment where I was offered the choices of many different foods. I was a “I eat everything” kind of person for majority of my life, I went to culinary school to become a chef. I’ve been that one who says things like “vegetarians are the difficult ones” and that’s saying it very nicely. I used to love a good steak. I was all about junk food and still have and probably will always have my deep rooted love for chips/crisps.
And I’ve been a very strict vegan, wrote about it and how it has benefited me and my mental health. I’ve fallen off that wagon really hard and now I am climbing back up.
This whole blog started partly because I watched a documentary called “Hungry for Change”. It opened my eyes with how much the food we eat affects our body and especially our mind. I still remember this one man in it, who spoke about his diet choices and how they affected his depression and I just had tears streaming my face, because it was like he was talking about me. That made me want to change my ways, I wanted to see if I could really feel that much better with so little as what I ate. And it really did. It made a massive change for the best with me. So why have I stopped and jumped on and off so many times in such a short amount of time, as few last years?
For me, I tend to still be a people pleaser and in a way respect what they’ve cooked and eat that, even if it’s not what I would eat if I would’ve been the one cooking. I’ve noticed a lot that it eases the minds of those people if you still eat fish, it’s like you’re not that weird yet or haven’t jumped on the dark side fully. But lately, with Christmas looming and me going deeper and deeper back to my vegan ways I’m finding myself questioning how I will deal this coming Christmas and all the food. What should I cook for myself when others eat the traditional Christmas foods, for example all the fish dishes that used to be the best part for me. And how can I sit in that table with my Christmas tofu or whatever I’ll figure without someone pointing it out like it always happens. It’s starting to get a little tiring for me that it’s the joke or the issue that it’s okay to make a joke about. And to be clear, I haven’t been a strict vegan for quite some time so in a way “it’s starting to get a little tiring” can sound funny to some who know me close enough, but it still does because it’s just stupid to make those remarks. But I also have to point out that when you have people in your life who respect or just purely don’t care what you eat, it does make this whole thing a lot easier. Still those remarks are nonsense and better to left unsaid.
Also, just like my journey with my own mental health and how food affected it, my mind has broadened over the years about how much what we choose to eat effects the world we live in. I started my food journey purely on selfish reasons, but the more you read and research, the more you come across with environment and animal welfare, it would be impossible to not see, read, hear those while doing your research. And it would also be stupid to close your eyes from all of it only because it’s unpleasant.
The last 3 something years I’ve started to appreciate the natural world more and more, it’s for the first time for me, became this sanctuary like place. It’s where I found my love for trail running. It’s where I’ve found myself after breakups or loosing loved ones. The more I spend time in it, the more I want to do something to keep it as it is. I find myself wanting to read books, watching documentaries and doing research on the internet about this all. And the more I know, the more I ponder about it all, the more I lean towards wholehearted environmentalist attitude, I guess that could be what this feeling would be.
So it’s not only the choice of foods, it’s where I choose to buy my clothes, my cleaning products, my everything. I want to make conscious decisions on not affecting negatively on this world.
Back to the diet choices. Since I moved to my own home start of July, my diet has been basically vegan with few instants of vegetarianism. I don’t even think about it myself, but I notice it every time I for example go to my parents where I tend to eat fish or cheese or stuff like that. And the last time I was there I was just thinking why am I eating this fish if I really don’t feel it to be right, for me? I think it’s the easiness of it all. It’s there so you just eat it. It’s the fact that they’ve gotten the fish because they respect you not eating meat. But the last time I ate fish there, I just noticed that this feels wrong. And since then I’ve thought about this and especially this coming Christmas a lot. I’ve only been a vegan for one Christmas before and back then I was a funny, not knowing enough vegan, so this time I would like to make an effort in what I would eat.
It’s funny how Christmas makes this all feel so current, but it’s about eating in most homes, it’s about gathering around that table and eating, a lot. Being together obviously too, but food is a massive part of it.
But so, what am I these days? A vegan? A vegetarian? Fish or no fish?
I would say that majority of my time I’m fully vegan, and going more and more back to that direction. Purely because I’ve felt the benefits of it in my body and like before, especially in my mind. But I also feel like I’m okay to make an exception if something is vegetarian and not vegan. I still don’t eat eggs, I did during the summer, but then it started to feel wrong again, it’s like this is still a baby chicken, no matter how I look at it. Now that I haven’t eaten cheese regularly anymore, I don’t crave it, and it was the hardest for me to leave behind in the beginning on this journey. And damn now I just realized that there’s going to be so many delish cheeses at Christmas! 😀 And that fish is in the past too, it just doesn’t feel right. There’s nothing different in eating a factory farmed fish than any other animal.
Few good reasons why I chose to decide that I want to give veganism a good go again and to refresh my mind of what I already knew, was documentaries like Cowspiracy, Food Choices, Before the Flood, books like Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer which really opened my foggy and forgetful mind wide awake. There’s loads of great sources to get some knowledge about this and other issues that are all linked together. And that’s what it is for me, the stuff we eat affects the planet earth and we’re already cruising here like it’s going to last forever and not stopping and thinking that will our kids or their kids be able to play in the snow or see any animals in the actual nature where they are suppose to live.
What I really loved about the book, Eating Animals, was that the writer didn’t sugar coat anything, but that he also wanted to offer the opinion of all the sides in the arguments, so you were able to think them through yourself too with that help. It didn’t give a one dimensional look on what eating animals, fish too, does to our planet.
I think for me the most important thing about this is, that you should do your every decision with the fact in mind that it will affect someone somewhere, whether you like it or not. And on the bigger scale those decisions are hurting all of us, if we do them on a whim or with no thought. That does not mean that your life is supposed to be extra hard. For me it means that I have done my research and that I buy stuff with that in mind. I use products that at least try to make a difference. Because every little change is a change for the better.
And like I was happy to notice the first time I went vegan, this time I’m noticing it too. I’m calmer, my skin is way better, so is my hair, I don’t have stomach issues anymore, no more gassy bloated feeling after almost everything, more energy, my depression is a lot more balanced, I feel a lot more tuned with myself, I recover from workouts faster, I don’t have those sugar spikes as I did before, the food that I eat actually does me good. And that is enough for me to choose this path, once again, hopefully this time braver than before, not caring so much what others feel about it.
I respect your choices, so let’s respect each other in every way, okay :).