Early in the week I shared with you the No Meat Athlete Matt Frazier. Matt is a world class vegetarian athlete (who just ran in the Boston marathon see photo) and writer of the No Meat Athlete site. Matt is showing the world that a plant based diet is the ultimate fuel for a strong and physically active body. In March Matt decided to go vegan. As I read his post describing how he arrived at that decision and his feelings behind it I thought, “Oh my gosh, I have had similar thoughts or fears, I bet many of us have.” So, I would like to share his incredibly honest, thought provoking and inspirational post with you. This is very timely because todays Exploits Birthday Bash present is a No Meat Athlete shirt. Congratulations Stacey Ness-R, Matt will send you your very own No meat Athlete shirt so you can rock it out with pride. I cant wait for mine to arrive so I can run/sleep/hang out in it.
My Decision To Go Vegan (Which Probably Has Nothing To Do With Oprah)
By Matt Frazier
Not veganish, whatever that means. Vegan.
I’ve tried it twice before, each time for 30 days. By the end of both trials, I found myself sprinting to the nearest Domino’s for a slice of greasy pizza.
And now I know why — I was forcing it. I was doing it because I wanted to feel bad about eating cheese and eggs. And yet on a gut level, I didn’t mind those foods, and that’s why I so quickly grabbed a slice of ‘za when those 30 days were up.
But this time it’s different.
The single comment that brought about the change
You’ll have to excuse me for talking about cruelty and ethical issues in this post — that’s not what No Meat Athlete is about, and I generally focus on health and athletic performance over those things that stir up controversy.
But for me this time, the change isn’t about health. A very tiny percentage of my diet recently has come from animal products over the past few months, with that percentage decreasing as I lost some of the taste for dairy products after each 30-day trial (I don’t like eggs anyway unless I can’t taste them).
So it won’t make a difference for my health or for my running. (I guess pizza is one less junk food I can eat on lazy days, but I’m sure I’ll find some vegan junk food if that’s what I’m in the mood for.)
Instead, this change is about animals, and not taking stuff from them or otherwise being a dick to them. And you know what did it? A blog comment someone left me. This one, from someone named “Yoga Gurl”:
Dairy has one special component that makes it the most cruel and that is the separation of baby and mother at birth. They do this because we take the milk that would normally go to the calf…so they are separated forever. The baby calves, often just days old, are often sent to the slaughterhouse. They are called “Bob veal”. They are often so young, they cannot even stand up. The mothers often bellow for days or try to hide their babies from being taken away from them. Meanwhile, this happens over and over…impregnation, birth, taking their babies and then sent to veal crates or directly to the slaughterhouse.
Again, this isn’t what I like to write about on this site — it feels strange just to put it in a post. In my opinion, it’s not even the most effective way to encourage people to give a friendlier diet a try.
But this comment hit a nerve, and here I am writing about going vegan
This is unfolding the same way my transition to vegetarianism did. I went for several months eating fish and no other meat, and then I started eating less of it. Eventually, it was a matter of convenience, something I’d eat only out at a restaurant if there wasn’t anything else on the menu for me.
All that it took to stop completely was a decision.
And that’s how it’s been with dairy and eggs. I’ve gone six months or so during which I’ve eaten them only rarely, and I’m at that point where the only difference between that diet and a vegan one is the decision that even when it’s convenient, I’m not going to eat them.
It’s really not any more complicated than that. Yesterday I made that decision, so I guess you can now call me vegan.
The type of vegan I want to be
I’m not worried about cravings. I’m sure they’ll come, but I can handle that. I’ll eat vegan ice cream or Daiya cheese or vegan sausage (it’s almost as good as the real thing) and I’ll get past it.
What I’m concerned about, though, is being perceived as snobby or “too good” for the non-vegan food that someone might offer me.
I hate making a scene. When you’re a vegetarian, it’s pretty easy to look at a menu item or a plate and know if there’s meat in it, and to privately, happily eat a vegetarian meal when everyone else at the table orders meat. Sure, there are times when you need to ask about broth or gelatin or some of the other surprise non-vegetarian food. But it’s not often. (Although I did bite into a pork burrito the other day that was supposed to be portobello mushrooms!)
With vegan stuff, though, you need to ask, because butter or eggs or milk aren’t often visible in foods or listed in menu descriptions. And if I’m going to dinner at a friend’s house, I’ll need to specify that, oh by the way, now the meatless dinner you were planning to make for me isn’t good enough; you’ve got to do better than that if you want me to eat your food. That part sucks.
But my plan is to follow the example of my friend Karol Gajda, and if someone brings me food that’s supposed to be vegan but isn’t, I’ll either find someone else to eat it or eat it myself, rather than throw it away. Along the same lines, I’ll probably finish the honey I have in the cabinet, and keep wearing the leather shoes that I have, until they’re worn out.
No, this doesn’t completely address my concerns, but I think I can apply the attitude to a lot of situations. If at a party there’s a salad with feta cheese on it, I’ll eat around the cheese but not refuse the salad. I think.
For as long as it makes me happy. Right now, I don’t feel good when I eat animal products. I imagine this feeling will only grow stronger with time, the way it has with meat since I stopped eating it.
But if I decide in a few months or weeks that I’m not happy as a vegan, I’ll go back to being vegetarian. And this won’t be a failure. I’ll look at it as another step towards finding a diet I can feel good about.
It’s very different than the previous “attempts” though, because there’s no end date here. This is indefinite, and I hope it lasts forever.
Thank you Matt and thank you Exploits readers for a memorable and magical Birthday Week. Your comments have been fantastic and I thank you.
Have a delicious weekend and a happy Easter.
Bunny image courtesy of 123rf.com
Tags: compassionate eating, dairy free, going veg, Matt Frazier, No Meat Athlete, plant based diet, plant strong, trying vegetarian, vegan, vegan athlete, vegan experience, vegan transition, vegan wannabe, vegetarian transition