I started this blog a while ago when going through some changes in my diet. After being a vegetarian for years (well, more accurately speaking, a pescatarian), I started Atkins, then went vegan overnight. The vegan thing lasted for two years, until I decided that I needed to start low-carb again, because when I was following Atkins, I was feeling my best, and I wanted to experience that again. It wasn’t an overnight change this time. In august, I travelled through North India, and started eating vegetarian again (that means included dairy and eggs). Then, I decided to give vegetarian-low carb a try (that’s when the blog came in), and before you know it, I was craving meat, so bad I went and ate half a roasted chicken. Then, a few weeks later, I ate a steak.
Before taking the leap, I searched all over the Internet for testimonials of people who went back to being omnivorous after eating a vegan or vegetarian diet for a long time. Although there were a lot of those who only had tried being vegetarian for health and diet reasons, there were also some people who had followed this lifestyle out of ethical concerns, and I was one of them. Almost all of them advocated their bodies’ cravings and almost all of them had to face hundreds of nasty comments from “compassionate” vegans who either told them they weren’t nourishing their bodies with enough nutrients or blantly accused them of being traitors to the animal cause.
I don’t know exactly where I stand. Sure, the way I was feeling when I was vegan had to do with poor nutrition, or better yet, with me not liking the taste of many vegan products (like hemp, for example, or almond milk), but it also had to do with my state of mind at the time: I was stressed out, and a bit depressed, too, so I can’t blame it all on the diet. What I know, though, is that I have tried: I got passionate about vegan cheeses (and made some that were delicious), about vegan baking, about fruit too (so much that I also went raw for a while). But weirdly enough, as soon as I went vegan, I started to crave the most unnatural things, as if I was missing something and couldn’t get satisfied from eating “only” veggies, fruit, whole grains, nuts and seeds. I didn’t know measure and was always trying to find the balance that was missing, either by turning to comfort foods, or to the national Russian cuisine (the one of my childhood, that is primarily oats, black bread, cabbage, beets, etc.)
So you see, the problem wasn’t only on my plate. It was in my life in general.
But now that I am in a better place, I have to say I have found the way of eating that works for me, and it includes dairy, and eggs, and, yes, meat.
I have to say I was the first one surprised at how quickly my body responded to the meat, and how positive that experience was. I was also surprised at how easy it was to trick my mind into separating the though of live animals in nature from the one of cooked meat. Maybe we are designed this way and some people, that are more conscious, never forget that as humans, we can overcome our “animal” and omnivorous impulses. Anyway, that was my biggest argument when I was vegetarian, and I felt very proud for it, quoting Tolstoy or Bernard Shaw whenever rose the occasion.
But the most uncanny thing is with no doubt the fact that this mental transformation was put into motion while travelling in India. Most of the time, when people go there, they don’t start eating meat, they do the exact opposite. But what I experienced in India wasn’t a calling for veganism, it was the deep understanding that the universe is chaotic in appearance (take indian traffic, for example), and yet has a structure, and follows rules, so that balance is always achieved: not once during our month’s trip had I witnessed a traffic accident. The same goes with life: we are all mortal, and everything that is alive has to die at some point, but when an apple falls off a tree and rots in the ground, it gives life to another tree. When an animal is chased and killed by a predator, it allows the predator to live, etc. All life takes life.
What do you make of humans, then? If we kill an animal to eat it, we sustain our own living. But how our death (or life, for that matter) sustains the living of animals? Is going vegan really good for animals? Yes, you don’t participate in the cruelty of slaughterhouses, and that’s good. But by doing that, don’t you also exclude yourself from the cycle of life? I know this brings up a lot of arguments: are we really designed to eat meat? isn’t it outrageously arrogant to place the human beings on top of the food chain and wouldn’t it make for a better world if we all stopped eating animals and torturing the planet in the process? Is there such a thing as “compassionate” raising and killing of animals?
Back when I was vegan, I asked my mother: “how would you feel if when you were dead, somebody ate you?” She told me she wouldn’t find it terrible. In fact, she believed we were all part of the process, part of the cycle. Our civilisation condemns cannibalism, and for good reasons. Since the dawn of humanity, we have instituted death rituals to honor the spirit of the dead, and the thought or being eaten is, quite frankly, repulsive. But is it? Shakespeare wrote about rotting bodies and how once we die, vermine eats off our us. Romantic poets dreamed about being buried in the ground with trees planted “in” them, so that they could continue to “live” within nature even after their deaths. It is all beautiful images of course, with people slaughtering animals by millions and being buried in stainless coffins, but the idea of the cycle of life can be sustained.
On the small level, by only buying local meats and eating fresh products, and of course, swearing off all the processed foods.
On a bigger level, by feeling yourself part of the eternally renewing cycle of the universe, where all life ends, and all death leads to more life. All life takes life.
What do you think?