Serially Lost

Writing Prompt: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.
Twist: Write it in three parts.

I used to eat animals. Now, I don’t. I lost something, but it wasn’t what I expected.

1.

Never eating cheese or sushi again seemed inconceivable. I ate eggs almost every morning. “If you go vegan,” I told myself, “You will lose.”

At the time, I thought the food on my plate was about me. I still believed the ‘free-range’ myth – if nobody died or it was ‘all good days’ and ‘one bad day’ where was the harm?

So strong was my irrational fear of forever losing the taste of feta and smoked salmon that I decided to set a time limit – one year. Back then I wasn’t certain that I needed to be vegan. Who knew if this seemingly extreme and probably unnecessary lifestyle choice was right, or not? I was having difficulty thinking clearly on the subject, so I decided to do it as honestly as I could for a year and then make a decision.

And so I bid a sad farewell to smoked salmon bagels and scrambled eggs for year. I embarked on what I though would be a personal food journey.

2.

I didn’t go vegan overnight. I had a phase out plan, starting with lunch – the only vegan place in town, Vegan Buffet, is a two minute walk from my office: cheap, delicious and convenient. I was often too lazy to bring lunch, so it made for the perfect back up plan. Plus, it was already familiar, as I ate there regularly anyway.

I started to research. Why are people vegan? Does it even make sense? What are the reasonable alternatives?

What exactly is my food? Where does it come from? What does food production really involve?

Who does it involve?  Is this right?

What is this like from the point of view of the animals in the machine? What about the people? What about the animals? How does this impact the environment?  What are the implications of animal agriculture?

Why are we doing this?  Why do we think THIS is okay?

Why are we eating animals?  Why have I been participating in this for 46 years? Why am I only now, after 46 years, starting to join up the dots?

I lost my ignorance. I lost my cognitive dissonance. I lost the entitled luxury of hiding inside my social and cultural conditioning.

3.

Going vegan has not only been a journey of new information and behavioural change. For a while I thought I might never regain emotional equilibrium.

I have lost my ability to thoughtlessly blend in with the crowd. Most of our social situations revolve around food and the pleasure of eating and talking about eating. Yet, that pleasure comes at a cost I didn’t even know was being paid because I wasn’t being asked to pay it, yet.

The ghost chickens whose lives I paid for and bodies I broke are finally coming home to roost. As the world’s poor desperately scramble for food and water, we plunder non-renewable aquifers for animal agriculture. Confiscating what little remains of ‘natural’ land to graze cattle and grow crops to feed the farm animals we lock up in sheds and cages.  We destroy the habitats wild animals need to survive or we hunt them as pests or for sport.

Would we really rather lose the only ecosystem we have; the only one that can support us than a few moments of mouth pleasure and consumer accessories?  Would we really rather lose 21 000 people a day from hunger and hunger related causes than make a few minor adjustments to our lifestyle?

In a few weeks my year is up. I no longer enjoy sitting at a table watching people slice into the bodies of others and and ‘tut tut’ about the state of the world. I can not longer relax and connect with people though our entitled, self-serving, oblivious social rituals that I once happily participated in without needing to scream.

The earth will keep spinning in orbit for a few more billion years, but we will be lost.

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4 thoughts on “Serially Lost”

  1. Nicely written.
    A lot of similarities.
    Food wise, I don’t see it as a loss anymore: our diet has become so much more enriched now, so much more variety, and we’ve gotten to know so many new foods.
    “I have lost my ability to thoughtlessly blend in with the crowd.”
    –> completely understand. Even when I go for grocery shopping, and see al the animal products in other people’s carts, I have an urge to tell them, are you really sure you’re going to buy that? Don’t you know…? Don’t you realize…?
    Same for family/friends parties that are mainly omni. Happy shinny people but unhappy dead animals everywhere … 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey there!
      I’ve been following your 30 day vegan challeneg posts and have really enjoyed hearing about your thoughts and struggles. They echoe my own journey and experience as I launched into plant based eating and frankly, just resonate so strongly. I was a classically trained chef before I went vegan and had worked in fine dining for several years and even worked on a few farms. Becoming vegan for me was a 2 year process. I edged into it and learned as much as I could. Like you, I did not start with the presumption or even conscious intention to become/stay vegan. But I found I could not undo what I had learned, felt, discovered or what I had experienced. It was fundamentally a paradigm shift, and I did not always welcome it. There were moments that I wanted more than anything to just switch off my mind and heart and engage in social activities and conversations about food with others as I had once done, but whenever I tried to do that, turn that side of me off, I felt inauthentic, as though I was denying a part of myself that understood a greater truth and had different values. I ended up turning my back on a career that I had spent years building, but what I got in return was unspeakably valuable. I wish you the best of luck on your journey, during the highs and lows. There will always be bumpy spots and challengers but the pursuit is worthwhile and the joy of being vegan can be real. I have gained more than I have lost, though my friends and family and former coworkers may not always fully understand that trade, I do, and it is profound. Thank you for a lovely post yet again! I look forward to reading more and following you!
      -Danielle

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much for the feedback. I am glad that you have been enjoying the posts. I also used to be a chef in my 20s but switched careers in the early 30s, so long before now. If I was still working in kitchens I am not sure how I would make the shift. That must have been incredibly difficult going into work everyday.

        But I have always enjoyed food and talking about food except for the few years just before and after I left cooking – I was sick to death of it, and then one day it came back. Now I just do it for fun.

        But this last year has been as you say a paradigm shift. When I heard people say that I thought they were overstating it, but being vegan is fundamentally about our relationship to others. It is just that you start to see that ‘others’ extends beyond our own species and as a respect for everyone. That people are not the centre of everything or at top, or as I used to think the ‘only’ and if I thought of other animals (besides my own pets) I would see them as peripheral or as ‘flora and fauna’ – a species not an individual.

        It is weird how through all those years of cooking I never really understood the relationship we have to food. I never really looked down the supply line to see how all the people, animals and ecosystems involved related to me. When I pulled produce out of the fridges I was disconnected from its origins.

        Anyway, that you for the lovely comment. All the best in your new career and for the future.

        I am working on getting to that place where the ‘joy outweighs the distress’, but I think this is part of the process, as I figure out how to as Colleen say – be a joyful vegan in a non-vegan world.

        Thanks again for reading and the support, 🙂

        Like

    2. As you say the logistical aspects of becoming vegan, which seem enormous in the beginning, become nothing more than minor speed bumps and then once you figure out the work around it’s like driving on the open road again. I keep discovering more things that aren’t vegan, or that I really have to think about all the time, but I now have the confidence to know that I can either find an alternative or work through the issue to sort out what my response as an individual should be.

      But it is the social aspect I struggle with. Begin vegan in a non-vegan world is tough at times emotionally. If it was just a personal thing like other things that might make me a bit different it would be fine,

      But there are always the unacknowledged victims – the ghosts in the machines. I walk through the world now with these ‘ghosts’ and see them everywhere. Everyone else seems oblivious to the the death and abuse we have saturated our society in.

      I can’t honestly pretend it is okay that others are eating animals. I can’t do the usual ‘you do your thing and I’ll do mine’ because this isn’t about us. What about the animal you are eating or wearing?

      What about the animals tortured so I could get relief from a headache tablet?

      I am still trying to figure out what I do with this new awareness, I mean be vegan obviously but how do I integrate this new awareness into myself as a social and cultural being. What are my obligations in relation to this?

      Like

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