My Vegan Story

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I don’t have a lot to say about my own journey towards veganism except to say I wish I’d done it sooner because less animals would have suffered if I had. I only went on a vegan diet because I was suffering myself, from food intolerance-based symptoms; it was a selfish decision but now that I’m awake to what’s happening to the animals and our planet, I won’t ever turn back.

A year ago, I consciously decided to go vegan. It was around the time I found yoga with Banana Blondie 108, cause I’ve been doing yoga with her for right on 1 year! But for 2 years previously, I’d struggled with digesting meat (Except for the whole chicken bodies but I’ll get to that in a minute.), and one of my doctors had given me Biogest Pancreatic Enzymes (I blogged about them here), which worked if I ate them before eating animal meat. I later got some on the PBS that worked just as well. The difference being that one was sold by a doctor of Environmental Medicine at $60 a bottle, and the pharmaceutical brand from an Allergist was around $6. It was about that time I stopped eating meat; it just didn’t makes sense to swallow a pill containing pigs’ stomach enzymes just so I could digest meat. Tofu became my friend, no enzymes, apart from my own, needed.

(I don’t think I’ll ever make a ‘What I Eat in a Day’ video because I don’t find sharing that information interesting. But if you want to see what treats I make you can go to my Instagram.)

In 2007, after being chemically sensitive for three years, it looked like a vegan diet might help cure me. I lasted only a few days. A friend bought around some scientific literature showing exactly the nutrients us veg-heads would need to thrive. It wasn’t impossible to get the same balance of nutrients and vitamins from a plant-based diet but it sure looked like it was a lot harder. My friend also pointed out a nutrient deficiency was the last thing a chemically sensitive person needed. (It’s a little ironic that last paragraph, I didn’t have many food intolerances and only one allergy; nowadays, I can’t count how many I have and don’t want to! Yes, maybe I should have gone vegan sooner; but apart from saving animals’ lives I don’t know if it would have made any other difference, though.)

Instead, I stuck to eating mostly organic foods, plenty of fruit and vegetables and steamed organic chicken and deep-sea fish.

And then I came across this recipe where a chicken’s body is cooked three ways to utilise all of the nutrients from the flesh, the bones and skin. (The marrow was also supposed to help heal my gut.) I thought because the poor bastard was free-range and organic, it was okay. My cognitive dissidence shielded me from the fact that, yes, this chicken still suffered. I can no longer appease my conscience with the fallacy that it didn’t care what was happening to the chicken in front of it while traveling along the production line towards its orchestrated death. It knew. They all do. And so do we.

We are the ones who live in a bubble, thinking we are intelligent beings; the animals are here on earth for us; and that we need them to die so we can get protein, amino acids or gelatine from the marrow of their bones.

That mythology is played upon by the Paleo Wellness inc industry; and nowhere does it carry more weight than with the chronically ill: we will try anything to get better.

Until we awake to the truth.

Due to information shared among my social media networks, lately, I’ve been feeling a pull towards animal activism, possibly even stronger than what I feel for MCS activism; however, there’s a solid kinship: since going vegan, I feel the plight of the animals through the core of my being, and feel that, even though the two (slaughtering animals and poisoning people with chemicals) are not the same thing, we’re all victims of neglect and disrespect for our earth and its inhabitants.

And even though I get sick as all crap from just a five minute drive in my gas-chamber of a car, or a few breaths of fragrance, I’m grateful for my chronic illness turning me onto veganism. (But that’s it. Can my socially inconvenient illness go away now?)

I do know I’ll never turn back.

Within 3 days of making a conscious decision to go vegan, I had this thought that just wouldn’t go away, and I wanted to make a blog post about this idea but decided I didn’t want to offend my online friends—seeing as many of them are the only ones I’ve got—but, anyway, this is my big picture idea:

All people who suffer with inhalant allergies, chemical sensitivities, respiratory inflammation, Toxic Encephalopathy, Asthma, Occupational Asthma, Irritant-associated Vocal Cord Dysfunction, Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome (RADS), Irritant-induced Asthma, Small Airways Disease and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)] need to go vegan because we are suffering because of the actions of others, okay? Sure, it’s our immune systems fucking up here, but what about the planet’s ecosystem; that’s like an immune system in a way: is it reacting because of its own actions? And the animals being slaughtered in inhumane ways and factory slaughterhouses? And if you can show me an animal that is murdered humanly in front of your eyes and still eat it, then I will agree with you eating meat–but you can’t cook it; you have to eat it in its natural state to convince me that humans are meant to eat meat!

Another reason all people with diseases and conditions impacted on by chemicals need to go vegan:

What about the animals used in the testing of fragrances, hey? What. About. That. Can you not see that we and the animals are together in this nightmare? Are we being forced to have lipstick smeared in our eyes? Or fragrance chemicals applied to our skin in patch tests, even though the skin is already raw from testing? No, but we live restricted lives, forced to ask for accomodations to see a doctor or dentist or to go to school or work. At least we have the freedom to done a mask to protect our airways; and run an air-filter; or choose our clothing; or tell people to Fiddle dee dee! off. Those poor animals have no choice in what is happening to them. They have no freedom. No voices. Only ours…

So, yes, I think all people with MCS and related conditions should definitely go vegan based on ethics, then health or whatever, but just go vegan!

My ongoing struggle with guilt

I guess I am still struggling with the fact that I am vegan, yet guiltily so. I don’t want to harm animals. Yet, I collect (and have collected all my life) shoes. (I own a lot of shoes considering that 12 years ago I threw out all my clothing due to the fragrance chemicals and scents that were on them and this included giving my shoes away to charity as well.) When I look at this 2nd collection of shoes, which are mostly packed away in boxes, I feel disgust for myself.

A few weeks ago, on a hot, 35 degree celsius day, I decided to air them all outside in the sun. Many are still unwearable, especially if I’m in a car or other confined air-space. It was a mistake in that, that many shoes on the table on my front deck, right outside my front door, caused me to suffer upper respiratory sickness from the fumes. I think it’s the stuff they treat the leather with. Even in a car wearing one pair, I can get a headache; here, are about 30 pairs…

Karma anyone?

Painful as it was, after I recovered, I saw it also a genius move because I can now see this about myself:

Buying shoes, lusting over shoes, adding shoes to ASOS and The Iconic wishlists, collecting shoes, lining up my shoes in my closet and trying them on with various outfits has always been fun, a kind of therapy for me. Boyfriend upsets you? Buy a pair of shoes. Nervous about going back to Uni? Buy a pair of shoes to wear on your first day back!

Shallow. I. Know.

But it worked; and besides, how bad can something be if it makes you happy without harming others or yourself? It’s not like I was robbing banks, shooting smack or partaking in wild sex parties without condoms, now was it? Yeah, I know, in my emotionally-attached-to-shoes shallow world, I missed the bit about animals being slaughtered for their skins so I could have a pair of pink ballet flats.

Sex party, anyone?

And then there’s the fact that all new shoes need airing out so the chemicals and natural materials can outgass; I blogged about having to put away some of my shoes until I get better, here, yet, I’m actually more sensitive to chemicals since I wrote that, and, like I’ve said, nearly all my shoes are kept packed away right now, until I move and they can go into a closet, which has a roof window. And, I’m so over having to air them.

About a year before going accidently vegan, like three years ago, I saw a video like this one on Opposing Views about dogs being killed in China so their skin could be used on small leather items like belts and purses.

“Newkirk warned that the leather looks identical to any other, so that consumers would never be able to tell if they are wearing dog skin or skins from others animals like cows, pigs and goats.

PETA Asia estimates that the slaughterhouse skins between 100 to 200 dogs each day and that about 300 dogs are kept in the warehouse and are often seen frantically trying to escape their cages.”

In retrospect, that was my red flag but still I didn’t see it; ergo, I remember the revulsion in the pit of my stomach; I see that flag now, waving at me in the distance through the blood-red mist of my guilt. Now, the bitterness of that bile almost rises up when I look at all my shoes. Except for the vegan ones, of course (which make up about only ¼ of my collection):

After watching one of Banana Blondie’s videos on this topic (see below), I plan to sell my shoes made from animal skins on eBay. I guess I’ll now get to go for the 3rd collection of shoes in my entire life. Out with the old; in with the new, I always say!

Anyway, that’s my vegan story.

As for my Paleo posts, I want to delete them, especially the one about cooking the whole chicken, and I still may do that because I feel like they are a stain on my character that I’m desperate to erase, but for now, I want to be the type of vegan I wish that I’d met when I was still a meat-eater. I want to be supportive of others choices. (Also please note: these were important steps to my going vegan. I can now see that my longing to cook the whole chicken therefore using less chickens to cook with, and my desire to have less of an impact on the environment where indicative of my undiscovered veganness. Going Paleo is a great step towards going vegan but not an excuse not to: aka “Oh, but they are grass fed” and all that.)

If you are my friend though, and you’re not vegan, don’t expect me to shut up about your choices. I can’t. I won’t. So just go vegan already… But yes, I will be a supportive vegan friend… For now.

Of course, you need to know: there’s also a militant vegan hiding within me, ready to jump out screaming like a banshee, donning a magenta coloured balaclava, and lining up to join the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). We’ll go on a rampage, guns blazing and set those animals free… damn it!

Are you with me?

Immy is in the Vegan Revolution crew ^__^

A photo posted by Vegan Revolution (@vegan.revolution) on

One more thing: I live my life relying on the compassion of others. I can’t go to university, the doctors or the dentist without appealing to people’s compassion to skip spraying chemicals on themselves so that I may be in the same room as them. And if appealing doesn’t work then I must play the old Human Rights (aka Access to Buildings and Services) card. I spend a fair amount of time pondering the level (or lack) of compassion among human beings. And nowhere is this more pronounced and obvious and measurable than when you are vegan. You see, the way animals are treated by us humans is appalling: we own pets, yet we house and slaughter cattle. (Why not just eat our pet dogs, hey?) Yet, we as chemically sensitive people, dare to complain about the lack of compassion shown to us? Surely, when we look at the way animals are treated, on the whole, and as marginalised people, shouldn’t expect to be treated poorly back by corporations and those with power?

No? Well, go vegan.

I can’t, I won’t be a part of the meat industry or it’s byproducts any more. I can’t go on eating the flesh of slaughtered animals. Me, who wants her health back more than anything; but not more than the animals need their lives. I see clearly now and I can’t be quiet about it.

More

Jo Fredericks: Artwork to Make Us Think

Sam de Brito (bless him): Confessions of a Vegan

Vegan News: The Vegan Buzz Magazine Thing

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

About Michellina van Loder

Comments

  1. Thanks for your long reply. I am just tossing around different ideas on what could be considered a natural human diet and was considering that our ancestors did not have the sanitized food supply that we have today. I wasn’t necessarily promoting raising and eating insects by the kilo, just wondering if a totally insect free vegan diet could realistically be considered natural. I hope you don’t mind me having used your blog to air my musings/process the thought.
    As for ethics, I agree that the factory farming system is downright horrible. That includes many aspects of the treatment of bees in modern agriculture. On the other hand I know people who raise their own backyard chickens, and eat the eggs and the excess roosters. I don’t personally have a problem with that, although I understand that many people do.

    • Michellina van Loder says:

      Yes, if we vegans really want to get precise about the ethics of veganism and using and exploiting animals for our own needs when it’s not necessary, then we shouldn’t even have pet dogs unless we want to keep our own chickens and rabbits and let the dog chase, maul and kill it’s own food (and clean up the blood afterwards); otherwise we (myself included as I have a dog) are total hypocrites because we buy meat that has been factory produced for them to eat.

      The best reason, and most sane reason to go vegan is to help our environment. Agriculture releases more gasses into the atmosphere than cars.

      The only solution to this is small local farms that supply those areas with seasonal fruit and veggies. Animals could be hand-reared but peeps would have to do the murdering, rapeing and enslavement themselves. And clean up the blood. I used to like to drink milk but now that I know a baby calf is taken from it’s mother, after his or her mum has been artificially inseminated (digitally and machine raped), I can’t run with that. Our ancestors used to do all sorts of things. Take the Catholic church for example. It’s the same thing. Corporate greed, exploitation of the innocent for someone’s gain and pleasure. Doesn’t make it right just because it’s always been done this way.

      You are welcome to express any thoughts any time on my blog, dear EI. xx

    • Michellina van Loder says:

      “just wondering if a totally insect free vegan diet could realistically be considered natural”, it’s a great line. Makes you think. <3 xx

  2. I’m quite happy for you to quote my comment. Another thought on the topic, I have had the good fortune this week to access the delicious fruit of a backyard strawberry guava tree. Somewhat akin to backyard mulberry trees, there are quite a few grubs and if you eat the fruit you are pretty much garenteed to eat a few grubs too (never mind, it is a delicious fruit). I’m pretty sure that our ancestors ate fruit complete with grubs as well. Certainly chimpanzees seem fond of termites. Even if humans are not designed to eat substantial quantities of the flesh of birds mammals and fish, it would be hard for me to be convinced that a totally vegan diet, in the context of today’s sanitised food supply is entirely natural either. The only thing is, I don’t see too many vegans overcoming their cultural conditioning and seeking out opportunities to eat a few grubs with their fruit or what have you. Modern agriculture is not particularly humane in its treatment of insect life anyway, so I don’t think the hesitation would be entirely from an ethical basis. What are your thoughts on such uncomfortable topics as grubs in the fruit?

    • Michellina van Loder says:

      I was going to write a new blog post, titled, ‘Shall we eat crickets instead of livestock?’, but am too tired to collect research to back up my valid points on why eating crickets is not a good idea. I will upload a video on ‘How to Save a Bee’, which i made recently instead asap.

      You also might want to read my ‘Healing the Gut‘ post so you can see the struggle I went through personally before I chose to become vegan. The ethical side is something I only saw after I went vegan… So I can see exactly where you are coming from, having been there myself and all…

      But for now, on a general level, as far as “vegans overcoming their cultural conditioning and going out of their way to eat a few grubs”, I’d say that working with nature is key. However, unlike companies like Monsanto, I don’t believe we are above nature. I believe we are equal, not better, even though we have intelligence different than the animals’. In a perfect world, for me and some of my vegan friends, this would mean using permaculture methods to grow food. And coexisting with bugs and grubs because we need them in our ecosystem:

      “Permaculture is a sustainable alternative to monoculture. Permaculture is a method of growing food by working with nature rather than against it. By understanding the mechanics of natural ecosystems and embracing biodiversity, people can design permaculture gardens or “food forests” to sustainably maximize production of food.”

      This link is a transcript of a tedtalk on the importance of being able to feed 9 million people. It’s more social justice based than vegan based but it shows how agriculture is impacting on our health, the animals and the earth: https://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_foley_the_other_inconvenient_truth

      As for me, personally eating a bug, I wouldn’t be bothered on an ethical level; and I may or may not feel guilty. I eat apples from Mock Orchids Biodynamic farm at Redhill and these sometimes have a coddling moth in the middle of the apple (if I eat 20 apples a week, I’ll find at least 3 apples with this moth either inside or it’s burrow left behind as brown stain. I eat around it as it’s always in the middle, and not noticeable until you get to the seed part of the apple, Fujis, actually. Love them! It doesn’t effect the taste at all and I don’t feel bad for the moth; possibly, I feel grateful because I know that if there are bugs alive on my fruit then at least there are no pesticides or herbicides on there or it wouldn’t be alive. Is this selfish? No, because I am coexisting with the insect: now that you have given me Food for Thought, I realise, we shared the apple, LOL.

      I cannot speak for all people who are vegan but do know that many do it for either environmental reasons or health; but going vegan purely as an ethical decision is tough because being in touch with the animals’ emotions, psychology and physical pain as they are put to death each day in slaughterhouses really hurts on an emotional level. I’ve watched so much footage during my research that the look in their eyes is seared permanently into my brain. Some people who newly turn vegan and see too much footage of animals being slaughtered have emotional breakdowns, others become violent and desperate to save the animals… We can’t win anyway, it’s not like going vegan will change the world, now is it? What woke me up the most was seeing animals such as rabbits being tested on so that we can have ’safe’ (LOL) pharmaceuticals and ‘safe’ (LMFAO) personal care products is beyond wrong: it’s psychotic. So I would have to say that most people who are vegan would see eating a bug as a very small issue compared to that of the general plight of animals tortured the world over for human ‘needs’. Killing a bug is a minuscule issue when you compare it to the state of the planet and the amount of greenhouse gases released from agricultural animals; couple that with the amount of soy and grains grown to feed them and that’s a lot of water used to grow plant-based food that can be fed to starving people in third world countries—or people struggling in our own country. So, taking into account slaughterhouses where animals are slaughtered en’masse (like 150 Billion a year), the greenhouse gasses from their farts, the water used to grow the crops they need for feed, and then the damage to the planet, eating a bug is nothing in comparison. But:

      Those who eat a plant-based diet (the ‘clean eaters’) purely for vanity reasons would, I imagine, be horrified at eating bugs, slugs, grubs or insects of any kind [chuckle, chuckle]. It’s still a sentient being but they might not care about that because of the grossness they feel on a psychological level… I can only imagine, I don’t actually know this for sure.

      The only time I am concerned at eating a grub is due to my allergies to mould; if, say, I baked a sweet potato that had had a grub tunnel through it, I could get sick from the mould left on the sides of the lil’ critter’s tunnel. This is rare as I can smell mould as I cut up the potatoes and never bake them without cutting up and checking inside after having had a few bad experiences (throbbing sinuses etc.) Never found an actual grub though, just its home or kitchen, rather, in the form of a burrow.

      I must say, on the topic of insects, I do feel for the bees in this world. Some say it’s not pesticides and herbicides causing the decline in the bee population, and as I have 3 jars of organic honey left, I took the opportunity to use some to save a bee the other day. He drank it, then flew away. We have a hive up in our tree in the front yard. My dog was actually bitten by a bee or wasp and had an anaphylactic reaction, which was pretty awful for her and us. Thanks to the gods and unicorns and gargoyles that anti-histamines exist cause that’s what took her reaction back down.

      Don’t worry: science will save us all.

      I also understand, more than any vegans that I’m yet to meet, that there are people with such severe dietary intolerances coupled with allergies that eating one particular type of animal flesh is only one of the 7-8 safe foods they have—until they get their tolerance for other foods back—I promise I will write a post about this as I feel it’s actually of great importance within our community to have that information out into the vegan community as well. However, I also know of one vegan with MCS and mould illness who has an amino acid deficiency yet she supplements with plant based amino acids. We are all at different places in our travels and I believe we make the best choices we can for our own circumstances at the time.

      I’d like to try some of these strawberry guavas you talk of. I would eat fresh food anyday over perfect looking food from the shops. I am eating mono meals of fruit at the moment with rice and veggies for dinner. Lots of tofu too!

      Did I tell you science will save us? Yes, I did; it’s true. We just need to have faith and wait out these bloody hard times.

  3. michellina. it’s leesa. i’ve got those gerson books for ya. if you wanna give me an email address where i send you them as attachements. they’re in pdf format. talk to ya soon

    • Michellina van Loder says:

      Thanks so much. PDF is great. You’re right, Charlotte Gerson is a total bitch! Desecrated the purity of the vegan diet :)

  4. Thank you for your thought provoking post. I am not a vegan, but I do try and put some thought into the ethics of what I buy. It is a sad indicement on our society that almost everything we eat and do comes as a result of under payed workers, environmental pollution affecting humans and animals alike and farming practices that all too often damage the soil, impact wildlife and mistreat livestock. Even most vegan foods and products contribute to the death and displacement of some animals somewhere in the process. My ethics urge me to eliminate the use of petroleum and other fossil fuels from my life. If I did so right now I would starve as I am not currently in a position to grow all my own food and even the best of organic food is transported with petroleum based fuels. I am also not in a position to walk everywhere I need to go, etc. etc. I also highly value my own survival :). I think that too much guilt is counterproductive to taking genuine positive action, but if we were not uncomfortable with the status quo we would take no action. I suppose what I am trying to say is congratulations on taking whichever ethical choices make the most sense or are available to you. Try not to allow yourself to be consumed with guilt over the poor choices forced on us by the society we live in. I also believe it is important to be flexible and take care of your own core survival needs.
    All the best,
    El

    • Michellina van Loder says:

      Absolutely, I mean to do a post on veganism in regards to MCS, may I use this as a quote? It’s such a valid point. I also think theres so much more to the story because it’s just not that simple for some of us. The planet, eco-system, animals, us, we are all of paramount importance. I see it as all connected, sorry not many others do.

      All the best to you :)

  5. https://sondasmcschatter.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/my-vegan-story-16-january-2016-by-michellina-van-loder/
    I HAVE BEEN A VEGETARIAN FOR CLOSE TO 30 YEARS NOW— MAYBE LONGER– IF I STOP & COUNT!!!
    I GREW UP ON A FARM & ALSO AREA WHERE MOST EVERYONE MADE THEIR LIVING RAISING CATTLE——- MY DAD TOOK CARE OF PASTURES & CATTLE FOR YEARS & DROVE A CATTLE TRUCK—- I DON’T MISS EATING MEAT!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Jake Eames says:

      Time to give up the eggs and dairy. They’re just as cruel as meat, if not crueler.

      • Michellina van Loder says:

        Yes, defiantly eggs and dairy, besides being a crueler practice than any of us can possible imagine, these are highly allergic foods and usually the some of the first people become intolerant of, meaning that their immune system just rejects it. However, there are a few people with chronic Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS (or IEI) who sadly–for them and the animals–have one particular ‘meat/animal flesh’ as one of their approximately 9 to 10 safe foods. I even know of one person who used to be vegan and now has this illness and has such a small number of foods they’re on a rotation diet.

        I mean to write an article on this matter as it’s an interesting one.

        Thank you for stopping by, Jake. Great to see you here :)

    • OH! THAT IS SO GOOD TO KNOW! I LOVE YOU EVEN MORE, SISTER <3

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