Vegan Defector Talks Back
by Tasha on November 22, 2010 in A Vegan No More
Wowee. Opening that can of worms was exciting, wasnít it? Iím still a bit shell shocked to be honest. Lots and lots of questions were asked, points raised, opinions airedÖ Lots of you had lots to say. Never before have so many people converged in one place to tell me all aboutÖme. My blog crashed the server several times, I had tens of thousands of people visit my blog in 48 hours, hundreds and hundreds of comments were written, and almost that many personal emails and tweets. Wow.
Unfortunately, I also had a handful of people make violent threats against me and my family, among many, many other obscene and vile things, so I was forced to shut down the commenting on this and the original post.
However, there are so many of you that are AMAZING. Thank you all so much for having so much passion and for taking the time to write your comments and emails. I wish I had time to thank you each individually for your outpouring of support. Your emails, comments, messages, and phone calls all lifted me up so much. How did I ever get so lucky to know so many amazing people? Thank you!
Today I thought Iíd do a bit of housekeeping and try to answer some of the lingering questions that many of you had, at least the ones that seemed to come up frequently. Here we go againÖ
Yes, I do exist.
There were quite an unnerving amount of people who suggested that I wasnít real. Yes, seriously. Apparently, there are actually people in the world who believe that the meat industry has crafted my entire blog and persona in order to infiltrate the vegan community and then wreak havoc with my announcement to quit being vegan. Yes, for real. I know, I couldnít believe it either. I think I will highlight one of the comments a reader left to express how I feel about this awesome Conspiracy
Wow, I love how that some people find the concept of opening their own minds SO terrifying that they have to instantly claim that poor Tasha here clearly couldnít be a real person. Saaaad. Since youíre clearly expert internet detectives, you do realize that a quick read of her About Page reveals that she works for Hollaback, which is a legitimate anti-street harassment organization thatís been around for some time now right? And that if you go to Hollabackís website, sheís listed there on the Board of Directors, just like a real person, which confirms her existence right? But no, clearly Big Agra created this website, Hollaback, and all other references about Tashaís existence on the internet. Hell, Big Agra created the internet in the 80′s JUST SO THIS DAY COULD COME. Geesh.
There were some of you who decided I had simply traded one black and white view of the world for another Ė veganism to locavorism. Again, not true. As a vegan I will be the first to admit that I was dogmatic and extremely rigid in my beliefs. But this journey has cracked my shell and I simply cannot see the world that way anymore. Do I wish we could transform the food system and have everyone eat as locally and humanely as possible? Sure. But I will no longer think anyone is a bad person or a failure if food justice isnít at the forefront of their agenda.
People make the world a better place in a million different ways, eating is just one small part of that. There are people out there who are changing the world for the better so much more than I could ever dream of, and they might be living on McDonaldís. Itís not a choice I want to make, but Iím no longer going to see a personís food choices as being a central factor in who they are as a person. I proved to myself that some people just cannot choose what they need to eat, for many different reasons. You canít force ethics onto biology.
Little Miss Perfect
Some of you thought I believed my new diet was perfect and better than everyone elseís. You said I was being just as judgmental and dogmatic as I had been before. Sorry, but thatís also false. My diet (just like everyoneís) is far from perfect. It will be better than some peopleís, and it will be worse than some peopleís. From now on, however, I wonít think than any one way is the absolute best. I canít get all organic, all local, all sustainably raised food where I live. It just canít be done. Itís a goal we can all work towards, but for now all I can do is try my best, and ultimately thatís all any of us can do.
I can try my best to eat local and organic, but Iím not going to stop myself from buying imported, non-organic food if I want it. My decisions on what to buy at the store are not going to transform the world. Like I said: consumer activism is not the answer. With my new diet I will make sure Iím happy and healthy but Iím never going to strive for perfection. I know it canít be done, at least not at this time and in this place, and thatís okay. Right now all I want to do is love myself and enjoy my food.
Got any advice?
There were some people who wanted to know how I got so lucky to work with such a great team of doctors. They were amazing and Iím very grateful. The answer is: Saad Hospital in Khobar, Saudi Arabia! Seriously, I canít recommend that place enough. If you want to know the specific contact details of my primary doctor just let me know by private email.
Others were interested in how I had come to rethink my beliefs. First and foremost was my own thinking on the subject, of course. But I am profoundly indebted to the work of two local feminist ecologists; Fatima Halwani and Mona Al Shakr. They are tremendous.
Lots of people contacted me to say they wanted to add animals or animal products back into their diet for various reasons, but after years of vegetarianism or veganism were scared as to how to proceed. They asked for my advice and any tips I might have. To be honest, while it was mentally difficult for me, physically it was shockingly easy. I started adding bits of cheese to my meals, just to ease myself in. I knew cheese wouldnít be enough, that I would eventually need to move up to eggs and meat. So, after a week or so I tried a fried egg sandwich. A week later I tried some meat. My body accepted everything without any protestations. It was wonderfully easy. But no, meat does not in any way make up the bulk of my diet. Animal products are a small part of the overall picture that will always include tons and tons of fresh vegetables and fruit.
Unfortunately, some of my readers donít know how to read. Or use the internet.
Lots of people told me that all I needed to do to be healthy as a vegan was take B12 supplementsÖsomething I made quite clear in my post that I had been doing ever since going vegan. May I make a suggestion that you read more carefully next time?
Many people said that the reason I was so unhealthy was because I ate such a poorly planned diet. I guess taking a quick peek through my old posts which would have revealed how exceptionally healthy my diet actually was would have been too grueling a task for them to undertake. It was pretty annoying to read comment after comment telling me I didnít eat properlyÖwhen I quite clearly did.
Some of my readers are legitimately insane.
I welcome all of your comments and emails listing in exhaustive detail exactly why I failed at veganism. Iíll even let you tell me Iím stupid, evil, or working for the meat industry. But when you threaten my life or the lives of my family that is crossing the line. When you trot out every misogynistic slur that is used against women to silence them, that is crossing the line. When you make a fake twitter account pretending to be me, that is crossing the line. When you start investigating the family of my web designer, that is crossing the line. When you write nearly a dozen different comments using different names so you can orchestrate an elaborate discussion with yourself in my comments section, that is really weird and it is crossing the line, too. People, my blog is not public property. I do not have any obligation to publish your descriptions of how I deserve to see my entire family killed. No, you do not have a right to do that, and no that is not what your freedom of speech is all about. You are insane AND stupid if you believe that.
And seriously? Vegans threatening violence against me and my familyÖisnít that a little too ironic?
No, I do not hate vegans or veganism.
So many of my friends are vegans and I love them. Vegans are all different, unique people, and some of them are my closest friends. It took me a long time but I now realize that what you eat really is a personal choice. Like I said in the original piece: if you want to be vegan please do! Vegan food is so incredibly delicious I know Iím never going to stop enjoying it.
I hope that you will eat what makes you happy and healthy, and not let anyone tell you different. Please just donít make the same mistake I did and think that veganism is the only way to save the world. I donít want to convert all the vegans of the world into omnivores. I donít hate veganism at all, I think it can be really amazing. I just hate the thought process that I used to have that concludes that veganism is the only right way for every single person. I no longer think of food as something that defines people, so it isnít something that Iím going to go to war over anymore. Eat what you want, just realize that there is more than one path to the goal we share.
You canít have it both ways.
Lots of you wondered why I had gone back to eating meat instead of stopping at just eggs and dairy. In addition to my health necessity to eat red meat, the reason I went back to eating meat is the same reason why I originally went vegan instead of vegetarian. Like I always said when I was a vegan: there isnít really an ethical difference between meat and eggs/dairy. In almost every instance, dairy and egg production relies on the use and death of animals just as much as meat production. Vegans who tell people they have to go vegan not vegetarian to make any difference shouldnít be telling me that I can only be a vegetarian.
There were some vegans who acknowledged that I might really need to eat animal products to be healthy. But they insisted that I should never mention it, and definitely never talk about how much healthier and happier I was, or how delicious meat is. This opinion made me feel especially disgusted and angry. Why should I stay quiet? So certain vegans can continue airbrushing veganism?
Like I said in the original piece, I refuse to feel shame for choosing my health. Iím not going to hide the fact that veganism didnít work for me. How awful would I be for condemning other people to the possibility of feeling like they were all alone in veganism related health problems? Why would I want to hide or lie about a huge, important part of my life?
I need to eat animals and animal products to be healthy; therefore I can no longer think it is wrong to eat animals. Why shouldnít I talk about my meals and how amazing they are? Iím not going to beat myself up every single day for eating what I need to be strong and happy. How utterly ridiculous that would be. I refuse to believe that I live in a world that is so twisted that doing something necessary to survive is evil. That reeks of the whole ugliness of Ďoriginal siní to me, and I just donít buy it.
Admit youíve got a problem.
There are many, many people in the world that tried to be vegan but couldnít make it. Just like me, they wanted it with all their hearts but their body just wouldnít cooperate. When vegans deny that this issue even exists and that it is simply impossible for people to have different dietary needs, that is not helping fix the problem.
If more vegans would realize that this is a legitimate issue for many well meaning people, perhaps more energy would be expended trying to solve it and create ways for these kinds of people to remain healthy as vegans. Thatís just my opinion, but it does seem like thatís a lot more productive than just telling me Iím a fictional construct created by the meat industry.
I think youíre evil!
If you want to judge me for being an evil omnivore, thatís okay, I would have done the same thing just a year ago. But Iíd like to remind you that the food you eat kills lots of animals, too. It might kill fewer animals than someone elseís diet, but veganism doesnít guarantee that. And no, your intentions definitely donít matter to the dead animal. They donít care if they die getting run over by the tractor that grows the wheat to make your vegan snack, or if they die getting slaughtered to make my burger. Every time you choose to over eat, or eat food that you donít really need, you are intentionally participating in the death of an animal. Which is definitely not vegan.
Until there is a way to live without causing any death, the most any of us can do is try our best. We all have varying levels of what our personal best might be, but we all make a choice to do what we can, which means all of our choices are ethically arbitrary. If you donít want to kill any animals, youíre going to have to stop eating.
On the care and feeding of Cody
A lot of you seemed very curious about Cody, and he thanks you for your concern. One of the many things that I love about Cody is his pragmatism. He thinks things through very carefully and makes his decisions with care. He also stands by me every step of the way and wants only the best for me. As any husband would be, he was scared when my health took such an ugly turn, and it of course raised questions for him. Maybe veganism wasnít so perfect, after all. He was right there reading, listening, learning, and going on the journey with me. It took him a few weeks longer than me to feel okay about our decision, but he is at the same place I am now. We are both happier and healthier as omnivores.
Apparently size really does matter.
Many people said my post was way too long and that I was obviously trying to defend myself and justify my actions. Yes, I am extremely verbose, I try to explain every single thing and ferret out all the tiny details. Not because I feel guilty, but because I am tenacious and passionate about knowledge.
People also seemed to think it was very vain and self-centered that my post was entirely focused on me and my food choicesÖmaybe they didnít know that Voracious is about me and the food that I eat? I donít know, I thought that was pretty clear.
Also, there were a lot of times as a vegan that I couldnít comprehend why others gave up a vegan life. I wanted to make sure I didnít make the same mistake; I was determined to talk people through my journey step by step.
Tone it down!
I was accused of being too passionate about the subject of food politics. (On that note, isnít it funny how many people are scared off by intense women?) Anyway, Iím the first to admit food politics is one of my biggest passions. My thesis will revolve around the intersection of feminism and food justice, and a large chunk of my professional life is devoted to food rights. I care about this topic a great deal and Iím not sure why that surprised people. Would it have made more sense for me to throw up my hands and say I was just going to stop thinking about one of my favorite topics for ever and ever just because I couldnít be vegan anymore?
Go into hibernation!
Lots of people offered me unsolicited advice, which I was prepared for, but I had no idea so many people would tell me to stop working out in order to be healthy. Seriously? Listen up, I donít work out because I want to look a certain way or because I hate my body, I work out because it makes me feel amazing. I work out to feel strong and powerful and vital and alive. I work out because I love it. I donít think riding my horse, hiking with my dogs, and going to the gym several times a week is excessive, and I certainly donít think I should have to give any of it up just to be Ďhealthyí.
And in conclusionÖ
So there you go. Now you know my vegan story. How it started and how it ended. I know lots of you are disgusted by me and Iíve lost your friendship. But I also know lots of you think Iím pretty brave and enjoyed hearing my opinions, and I am grateful you took the time to tell me.
Like I said before, if you are a vegan and you are loving life, then by all means keep it up. I think that rocks and you should always aim to do what makes you feel the best and the happiest. But if you are not feeling so well, please donít let yourself suffer for as long as I did. Figure out whatís wrong and make a change. We all deserve to be healthy and happy.
Like I said, my opinion on the politics of food has changed dramatically during this journey. I donít see the world in such a black and white way anymore. If you want to eat vegan, awesome. If you want to eat locally raised food, great. If you want to eat Mcdonalds every day, thatís fine with me. We each do what we can to make the world a better place in our own unique way, and everyoneís individual best is going to be different.
I hope now I can return to just being a plain old food blogger, instead of the eye at the center of a mind boggling storm. I love food. I love to eat. I love to share my culinary adventures with the world. I love to cook. Did I mention I love to eat? Because I do, I really, really do. Thank you all again so much for joining me on this journey, itís been great. Now let me get back to the kitchen!