I've been a vegetarian for almost five years now and this has never been a problem for me.
Morally, I feel as if I line up with veganism more than vegetarianism. My reasoning for going vegetarian in the first place was because I've always felt uncomfortable with the idea of eating a dead animal. I've always been an animal person, and eating my friends was just a little too icky for me.
I've been becoming increasingly uncomfortable with other animal products because of inhumane conditions at commercial farms. I've seen a few too many PETA videos that have shown me the horrors that have to occur in order for me to have an egg in the morning or to put milk in my coffee. If I want animals to live, it would be completely unfair for them to have a poor quality of life just because of my desire for eggs or dairy. I definitely don't need it. Vegan was a good idea for me morally, but in the end it didn't work well for me. Here's what happened.
About a year ago, I decided to cut back on my consumption of animal products so that I could eventually be a moderately functioning vegan. I talked to a few of my vegan friends and asked what the best way to go about it was. One friend told me that gradual was a good way to wean yourself off, as a mother cow might do with its calf. However, another friend told me that I should cut it all out right away because it would be immoral not to do it as fast as possible. "You've chosen a better path," he said. A few weeks later, that path would get me totally lost and be emptying my stomach's contents into a garbage bin.
At first, it wasn't very hard. I could skip the cheese in my daily tofu pita at the university's coffee shop. I made stir fries no different than I would have done before. I ate even more carrots and hummus. I broadened my horizons when it came to vegetables and I ate a different fruit almost every morning. I took vitamins like nobody's business, just to make sure I wasn't missing out on any nutrients. But it didn't make me feel any better. In fact, I felt worse.
I began feeling more sluggish and tired, often sleeping past my alarm making myself late for school. I felt as if I was hungrier all the time (it was probably all in my mind, but hey, the mind is a powerful thing). When I was in class, all I could think about was how hungry I was. So one day I went to grab a vegan sandwich after my science fiction class (because that was all I wanted, and really all I could think about in class). Looking back, I would have much rather paid attention to my prof teaching us about Phillip K. Dick than listening to the growling of my stomach. Androids may dream of electric sheep, but I was too busy daydreaming about sandwiches.
I got a flatbread sandwich, which consisted of mostly lettuce, tomatoes and not much else. I started to feel sick as I was heading home. When I got there I felt so sluggish that I fell asleep right away. The second I woke up, I was in a cold sweat and I was projectile vomiting all over my room. I couldn't keep any food down for days, which was probably the result of food poisoning and not my attempt at going vegan. Naturally, I assumed that either my body was punishing me for trying to adopt a vegan diet, or that the vegan gods were testing me. Either way, the only food I could manage to keep down was chocolate milkshakes.
This year's vegan challenge seemed simple enough: cut out all animal products for a week. I can do that, I thought to myself while pouring milk into my coffee. I lost before I even started. Perhaps it was subconscious self-sabotage, my body protecting itself from my mind and morals. I may be bad at being a vegan, but at least I'm honest.
What does work for me is buying locally sourced animal products. Going to a local farmer's market and getting eggs or milk makes me feel a lot better than buying these from the grocery store, where they are most likely from massive-scale farms. To me, it is a kinder, gentler way to consume animal products, although I am aware than many may disagree with eating animal products at all.
Veganism didn't work for me, and it doesn’t work for everybody. Each person's body reacts differently to different diets, and it would be wishful thinking for me to cut out all animal products for the time being. I might think differently in a few years, and maybe my body will change, but for now I feel quite comfortable with a vegetarian diet.
Lauren Scott is the books intern for rabble.ca and is currently studying Journalism at Carleton University. She loves post-modern literature and anything with a bit of sass. Originally from a small town just outside of Toronto, Lauren now lives in Ottawa. Follow her on Twitter @laurenscawt
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