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Archive for May, 2007

I was probably a very “typical” vegetarian. I had slowly transitioned into it because of a smart, loving, vegetarian boyfriend, who had asked me some great, poignant questions like: “Could you kill an animal yourself?”  Eating less meat, I slowly realized how much happier and better I felt about my food choices. Simultaneously I was learning about loving-kindness (a Buddhist way of life), and the environmental impact of a meat diet and it all just sort of clicked.  I started educating myself and learning more about living a life of compassion, and it just felt perfect…. and right. I started to view “meat” as “suffering” and couldn’t imagine feeding myself something with so much pain attached to it.

Meanwhile, I was listening to a ton of podcasts and came across Vegetarian Food for Thought with Colleen. I was instantly hooked; emotionally and intellectually. Once I knew about the dairy industry and then saw the film “Earthlings,” there was no going back. You can’t take off your blinders and put them back on. It just doesn’t work that way.

It’s become a moral issue for me now, and I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night knowing that I was contributing to the horrors of the dairy and meat industry.  I do have memories of having said things like: “I could never be vegan, no way!” but the truth is, it’s been extremely painless…literally and figuratively! A couple of weeks ago I went to a farm and was reminded…. animals are incredible beings! It made me so proud of my choices.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing your compassion and wisdom through your podcast. I feel so enlightened and educated, and am proud to be transitioning towards living my own truth, through a mindful, vegan diet.

~Nina in Somerville, MA

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I first became a vegetarian for the obvious health benefits, but soon learned of the cruelty and injustice inherent in the meat industry. I was devastated to think that I had been supporting such cruelty for the majority of my life.

I became a vegetarian in February, and was happy to discover your podcast about a week ago. I have been listening to it ever since. I am glad to know that the issues I wrestle with are felt keenly- not just by me, but around the world.

As a teenager in high school (a Senior), I have trouble getting respect for my choices. I am forced to buy my own food, using my own allowance, because the family I live with are all non-vegetarians, and their mother will not buy food I can eat. I especially appreciate all of the cooking tips, since I cook almost all of my own food.

At the end of the school year, I am hoping to make the transition to veganism. I had not known the extent of the cruelty before listening to your podcast, and I was shocked when I learned about the abuses of dairy cows. I am going to finish the cheese in the fridge that I purchased, and then I am not going to purchase anymore. I have stopped drinking milk already, and will stop buying products with milk in them.

You have inspired me to “speak my truth.” When I first became a vegetarian, my mother – who I live apart from but visit often – was opposed to it. She has pernicious anemia and was convinced that I would not get the nutrients I required on a plant-based diet. I have since convinced her to stop trying to change me back to being non-vegetarian, but she still worries that I am not eating enough.

I want to thank you for all the work you do to help the animals, denied rights and even voices. You are truly an inspiration.

~Tessara

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I can’t tell you what a JOY it is listening to your podcasts.  I have listened to all of them since I began listening in December. It was my first vegan podcast and it is by far the best.  I am a vegetarian but thanks to your approach and your information, I am becoming more and more vegan everyday.  Your approach to human change is as compassionate and encouraging as your approach to animals.  
 
I live in Pennsylvania and my background is Pennsylvania German, commonly called Pennsylvania Dutch.  Some people think that makes someone Amish.  In reality it means that my German ancestors settled in PA in search of religious freedom in the 1700’s.  The Pennsylvania German culture, like many, is full of meat and all of its by-products.  I grew up on a farm where pigs were slaughtered once a year, usually around my birthday. I remember burying my head with pillows so I wouldn’t hear the screams.   Not surprisingly pork was the first thing to go from my diet. 
 
On the other hand, there were indeed many wonderful things about growing up on the farm.  Two of them were my mother’s garden and my grandmother’s garden.  I can go on and on about the wonders of fresh picked strawberries, still warm from the sun, tomatoes, green beans, lettuce……My mother started a big garden because my dad ate NO green vegetables and no fruit.  Basically he ate corn, potatoes, and tomatoes – as ketchup.  She didn’t want her kids to be like that, so she hoped that if they had fresh veggies, they would learn to like them.  I tease my mom at how much her lesson worked on me.  Even my brother, still an omnivore, has a huge garden and lost a great deal of weight a few years ago.  Sadly, my dad died when he was only 56.  Technically, he died of complications following surgery to remove a brain tumor but I have to think that had he had a healthier diet, he may have been able to overcome that illness.
 
My niece can’t understand why her grandfather, who she never met, ate no strawberries.  She LOVES strawberries.  I pray that I can meet her children and grandchildren and that they can see first hand Aunt Wendy, who stopped eating meat and animal products, but was passionate about fresh, wholesome food. 
 
I am so crazed for raspberries that I went hiking in the intense summer heat very soon after having surgery last summer.  I needed those berries and I tried to pick them before my surgery, but they weren’t ripe.  Why would I want to eat meat and other gross things?  I prefer to save my calories for the truly wonderful things like blueberries, peaches, kale, tofu with broccoli….
 
You are such an encouragement.  Keep up your wonderful work.  I look forward to hearing the voice of someone I consider as a role model, as a friend on the west coast.
 
~Wendy in Pennsylvania

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I wanted to share yet another story of how your podcast has helped another person become vegan.  I am a university student and when I was extensively researching veganism last year, I ran across your podcast and was immediately impressed by the information you offered. 

I grew up very omnivorous; my favourite foods growing up were cheese, milk, and sourdough bread.  My family did eat fairly healthfully but not vegetarian.  None of my friends were vegetarian (as far as I know), but one of my friends was a committed vegan.  I knew her in high school; she was vegan for ethical reasons and most people, myself included, thought she was a wonderful person but somewhat crazy and “extreme.”  Like most Americans, I was firmly committed to my eating habits and never imagined I could become vegetarian, let alone vegan.

My biology class last semester focused on microbes and human disease.  In conjunction with the spinach crisis, the class touched on treatment of livestock and the routine feeding of antibiotics and growth hormones.  I had never thought about or learned about these issues.  When I spoke to my professor, she did note that one could buy hormone-free or organic meat.  Nevertheless, I knew my university dining hall was not spending the extra money on these special meats. 

Concerned about the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and hormones, I investigated animal agriculture for the first time in my life and was shocked by what I found.  Going vegetarian was quite easy; all I did was request “no chicken” in my stir-fry and indulged in extra ice cream, feeling happy that I wasn’t eating a caged, tortured bird.  The dining hall labeled all dishes that were vegetarian (often cheesy lasagna or potatoes) with a “v” so it was easy to find things to eat.  I enjoyed surprising people when they found out I was vegetarian.

Despite the pleasing surge of complacency, I still felt uneasy with my (rather high) dairy consumption.  I investigated matters and found out that some of the veggie burgers I’d enjoyed in the college café had cheese as a binder.  I stopped eating the veggie burgers.  I put soymilk in my coffee.  I avoided the obviously cheesy casseroles and pasta dishes.  My diet had become mostly animal-product-free; however, there was one area where I strayed: dessert.  Puddings, cookies, cakes, and (plentiful) non-vegan chocolate still tempted me.  I could buy vegan cookies from a local health food store, but that put a strain on my budget.  I kept eating the non-vegan treats and labeled myself vegetarian and thought of myself as an aspiring vegan. 

Now, thanks to the influence of your podcast, amazing recipes for delicious cookies that I’ve found in VegNews and Vegetarian Times, and a resolve to stop being hypocritical, I’ve made a commitment to veganism.  Instead of gorging myself on Hershey’s Kisses (which don’t taste all that great anyway), I enjoy a small square of Green & Black Mint Dark Chocolate.  Rather than eating a dish and wondering whether there is any butter or cheese in it, I ask or eat something that I know is vegan, like brown rice and beans—a new favourite. 

Thanks again for everything you do.  Please know that you are making an impact in people’s lives and I truly appreciate your work.

 ~Caroline in Davidson, NC

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I grew up as a missionary kid in Pakistan, and I had tried to be a  lacto-ovo vegetarian there, purely because slaughter practices are  NOT clean, even less so than in the western hemisphere; meat is kept  in open-air markets. This did not last very long, as vegetarianism is  very foreign to  the culture there, and refusing to eat the local  food (full of different sorts of meat) is very offensive;  hospitality, accepting and giving it, is central to Pakistani  culture. As soon as I came back to live in the States about 3 years  ago, I went back to being a vegetarian.

I became vegan about three months ago. I decided to stop eating  dairy, eggs and fish after doing a little thinking. When you really  think about WHERE the food comes from, you think twice about whether  you want to put it in your mouth. Really, the menstrual cycle of a  chicken doesn’t seem like it was meant to be consumed. It occurred to  me that the literal definitions of “beef”, “sausages”, etc, are  nothing more than cut-up body parts, and that “milk” is the mammary secretion of a completely different species. It’s simply not appealing to me.

All this is aside from the fact that it is arrogant to think that  some lives are food or clothing products, while others are 
companions. When you think about it, it’s silly. Animals are animals:  I won’t cover myself with something that used to cover an animal.  If  I won’t eat my cat, I won’t eat a cow; if I won’t eat my pet dog, I  won’t eat a hot dog.

I can’t see myself going back. Being vegan doesn’t define me; it’s just become second nature, a part of my life. That that life happens to be a peaceful, caring life is a beautiful thing as well.

I’d just like to publicly thank my parents for being so selfless and supportive. Though they are not vegetarians they go out of their way to accommodate me and daily show wonderful respect for my lifestyle. Also, since I’m the only vegan (or vegetarian of any sort) in my immediate social circle, it’s lovely to have your weekly encouragement in the form of your podcast. Thank you.

~Nathan in Franklin, Tennessee

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I’ve recently made the decision to become vegan. It’s been a few months now, and I already know it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I feel healthier, I’ve lost some unwanted weight, but those things are really just a bonus and not the reason I made this choice.

I originally made the choice to go veggie because I finally woke up to the unbelievable suffering going on so that humans can eat meat. And I was a big meat eater.  The day I first saw some of the undercover videos shot in factory farms was the day I made the decision, and I haven’t looked back. After watching the videos, I looked at our dog, and suddenly had a completely different emotional response to her. Suddenly I feel more connected to her and other animals and the environment.

I have two daughters ages 8 and 11, who have been brought up eating meat, and when I first became vegan, I felt so guilty that I had spent the last 10 years teaching my daughters to ignore their natural impulse to feel sympathy for animals. 

A couple years ago, when my younger daughter was 6, we were at a seafood restaurant, the wait person brought out a plate of crab legs for my wife. My daughter just stared at it with her mouth hanging open. Finally she said, “They are so mean to crabs here.” And of course, my wife and I thought that was sweet and cute, but ultimately we managed to desensitize both daughters so that they no longer react to meat with that kind of natural compassion and feeling. Until I became vegan.

It’s been 7 months now since I made the switch, and while I haven’t gotten the whole family to go vegan, meat is completely gone from our menu. My youngest daughter has even stopped drinking cow’s milk and reminds me when it’s time to buy more rice milk.  My older daughter voluntarily gave a speech to her 6th grade class about reasons to be vegetarian and my younger daughter boos the TV when any restaurant commercial comes on showing meat. 🙂 My mother-in-law has even asked for some of my recipes!

Your podcast has been wonderful and educational, and I can’t wait for the next one. Thank you so much for providing such a great resource.

~Chris in Illinois

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Shalom!  My name is Itai and I listen to your podcasts here in Tel Aviv.  I’m currently a graduate student reading History, but for ages I was a kibbutznik (a member of a collective Israeli farm).  On the kibbutz, I worked with children (one of only two men to do so) and I worked in our commercial dairy, doing veterinary chores, milking our approximately 500 cows three times a day and feeding them. Once a week, I made the 5-hour bus ride to the conservatory in Tel Aviv to study piano.  On one fateful trip, a little boy sitting next to me who had been looking out the window turned to me in tears, asking why the men were hitting the mama cow.  (They were separating the calf from his mother and she wasn’t happy about it). 
 
In that moment, the little boy’s compassion made the scales fall off my eyes. Yes, I’d been a vegetarian for 25 years.  Yes, I knew all my cows by name, played them music in the milking parlor and never used the electric prod. Yes, I was sometimes that man stealing a baby from its mother. 
 
I quit working in the dairy that day and took on the challenge of running the collective kitchen of the kibbutz.  I ordered food, planned and prepared meals for 50 or 60 members and friends three times a day and then, washed up. At first, I had 50 carnivores, some folks on Weight Watchers, one other vegetarian and a member with diabetes to cook for.  I started each morning baking fresh breads. Israelis are not shy about sharing their likes and dislikes.  My friends let me know what they enjoyed.  I figured I didn’t have to announce that the kitchen was now only serving vegetarian fare; I only had to make the meals delicious, satisfying and healthy. After the first month, I had 48 vegetarians on my hands and I was dreaming in recipes!
 
In April, 2003, I woke up one morning and became vegan.  I didn’t have a word for it, yet. (In Hebrew, TEVA means ‘nature’ and from the same root, TIVONI means ‘vegan’). By the end of the month, my plate was free of animal products and gradually, the rest of my life has followed suit. Now, each May 1st, I celebrate my vegan ‘birthday’ by cooking a meal for my friends and asking them each to bring one dish (for which I supply recipes and lots of hand-holding as needed). Today is my 4th anniversary of becoming vegan. Friends are arriving soon for supper but before the festivities begin, I want to take a moment to thank you. I can’t begin to tell you how much I benefit from your work – and your passionate, articulate style. You help me stay informed, open my ears to things I hadn’t previously considered, and, by example, provide me with ways of sharing the message of compassion in a thoughtful, effective way.

~Itai in Tel Aviv

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