Two years ago a good friend of mine phoned to tell me she had just seen a documentary called Revealed: No Country For Animals, about the treatment of factory-farmed animals in Canada. She was horrified. She insisted I see it. I didn’t want to. I promised to stop eating animals instead.
And it was that easy. I bought two or three vegan cookbooks, took my resolve into the kitchen, and my life changed forever.
In the old days I was a terrible cook. I was always afraid I would poison the few guests I ever felt obliged to invite to dinner. Which side of the cutting board was the “chicken” side? Had I bleached it? Should I have? Or would I then poison the guests with bleach? Was the middle of the shepherd’s pie cooked? What if it wasn’t? What are the symptoms of botulism, or was it salmonella? Yikes.
These days I make a faux shepherd’s pie with lentils and no one dies – no cows, no friends. And, surprise to me, it turns out I love to cook. I’ve even been asked for the occasional recipe; trust me, an entirely new experience. Some of the recipes I’ve tried are downright delicious. Because they don’t depend on heavy dairy products or musty meat flavour, they contain lots of herbs and spices that are superb.
So, it took me 59 years to stop eating animals. Don’t ask me why. I was clearly a good candidate for veganism from the beginning. One of my early memories is me sitting on the back stairs sobbing hysterically while my father tries to comfort me. I’m cradling a butterfly whose damaged wing means its fluttering days are done. I could not be consoled. Perhaps I felt responsible for the butterfly’s injuries. Perhaps I was.
Then there was the time on the front porch. There I stood, with not a stitch of clothing on, in full view of several neighbours, gently waving a piece of toilet paper to and fro in the breeze. I was so absorbed in rescuing the spider threatening to drown in my tub that I had lost track of all else. Oh my.
These days, when I ride my bike to the village, I go around slugs, snakes, frogs, and even tent caterpillars. Some people might question the value of these little lives, but who am I to say who should live and who should die? (Plus, who wants a squashed tent caterpillar on their bike tire?)
Opinions expressed in this column will usually be those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Shingle.
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