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…
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?
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.
Jo Fredericks: Artwork to Make Us Think
Sam de Brito (bless him): Confessions of a Vegan
Vegan News: The Vegan Buzz Magazine Thing