Unintended Identities

woman's reflection in rear view mirror with phone revealing a group picture.
Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

When I first started out on my vegan experiment, I promised myself that if my health should ever start to fail on account of my new plant-based diet, I would stop and find a better way.

Getting going was a little slow at first, especially as I had to master new ingredients, and more importantly, how to cook with them. Eventually, I was confident enough to start making more complicated dishes and pastries – even posting the pictures online. We hosted Mother’s Day one year, and I served vegan food. I happily made copies of recipes, that my in-laws continue to make for themselves today.

I love vegan food. I love how it tastes, and how light it feels after finishing a meal. I love that no animals were harmed, nor did I monetarily support their suffering and dying in the fantastically cruel and brutal machine known as intensive animal farming. (Which, in my opinion, it casts an unfair ugly shadow on farming in general).

As I continued to read and consume vegan-related media, there was, and continues to be, a wealth of inspirational people who also happen to eat just plants. Athletes especially have been a source of motivation and inspiration – they’re so trim, muscular, and tan – the picture of health.

But lately, something feels off. I’ve been getting sick more frequently. While switching to veganism permanently removed about 30 pounds from my waistline, there’s still plenty of padding that just doesn’t want to get lost. And frankly, anytime I start seeing celebrities getting involved in a way that makes them cash – I start to wonder if perhaps I’m not seeing the entire picture.

Quite by accident, I watched a YouTube video of a doctor’s presentation at a conference in Vermont. I was researching red light therapy and remediation tactics for chronic EMF exposure. I’m no physicist, but I am a chemistry nerd – what this doctor had to say shocked me because it made me question some of my assumptions. (It’s Dr. Jack Kruse, by the way, and he’s fascinating).

Here’s the thing – I don’t want to eat animals. I really don’t. The thought makes my stomach turn. I realized that even if a doctor told me today that I had to stop eating a vegan diet or the health consequences would be bad – I’m not sure I would. This in turn made me realize that I was no longer being true to my vow to myself. I became vegan to elevate my health and well-being. While it has certainly done that, I feel like there is more and I’m not sure veganism can offer it.

Oh, but the pull of that new identity is also something to contend with – the fear of being a hypocrite, of being publicly shit on because I forsake something that was no longer working for me. Those are also important markers to me that perhaps there is an agenda there that is not my own. I haven’t made any decisions yet. I’m still reading and researching. It’s just amazing how difficult it can be to stay open to better options and not feel guilty for even entertaining them.

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