Suddenly Vegan(ish)

At 8:35pm on August 8th, 2013, I suddenly stopped eating meat. Prior to that moment, meatless meals were absolutely unappealing. I loved meat. And I didn’t really didn’t enjoy vegetables. As near as I can tell, everything changed in a moment when I read:

“Veganism is not about giving anything up or losing anything; it is about gaining the peace within yourself that comes from embracing nonviolence and refusing to participate in the exploitation of the vulnerable”
–― Gary L. Francione

Within an hour of reading that, I went to the Burrito box on 9th Avenue between 57th and 58th and ordered a vegan chilly burrito for dinner. I had no intention of giving up eating animal flesh, but the delicious burrito was smothered in the new flavor of knowing that not a single animal was harmed. It was subtile yet pervasive. The food was free of misery.

Looking back, the change occurred when I realized the positive, the peace, the moral comfort that I could have simply by eating a yummy burrito. The next morning I didn’t eat meat again, and I didn’t eat meat again for lunch. I thought the urge might go away, so I didn’t even tell anybody. The change happened so suddenly that it scared me. I really didn’t know what was happening. I thought I might have had a stroke.

A Vegan Snack -- so good
A Vegan Snack — so good

It continued for a few days and I didn’t tell my wife. I was afraid of how she would react. She didn’t marry this vegan guy. And change is scary. What else would I change? After about 4 days I finally confessed. She was surprisingly supportive and understanding.

When I tell other people, even when I give emphasis that I changed for moral reasons, they often don’t hear what I’m saying and assume that I’ve changed for health reasons or to lose weight. Those are secondary benefits apparently (the verdict is still out). The reason I’m not eating animal or animal products is that I suddenly became acutely conscious that it’s immoral to treat animals the way we do and I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore.

But I am a rookie. Especially in those first few days. I really didn’t know what to eat. And I was hungry. I didn’t know where to turn. I ate nuts and bread, carrots and salads, hummus and tomatoes. But my repertory is growing. The food I’ve eaten in the past few month has been some of the most delicious of life.

I didn’t miss meat at all — not one bit. I walk by the Hala carts frying chicken and lamb, those carts of my former sustenance, and it doesn’t seem like food to me anymore.