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Why I became a vegan

I’ve been a vegan for 24 hours and have already started fielding questions from friends and acquaintances about why I made this decision. Many of my friends (in particular, Jenn Cornish) have offered words of support and resources for navigating this new world. Thanks, all.

The Chain Of Events

If you’re reading this blog, you probably know something about me and the various things I’ve done with my life thus far. I’ve been a fairly active progressive as a union organizer, Green candidate for local office, anti-war organizer and bicycling advocate. During all that time, I’ve also been eating beef and chicken and fish and dairy products, and lots of them. Given that 99% of that meat comes from creatures who are abused, caged and tortured to varying degrees, that practice is ethically inconsistent with how I try to live the rest of my life. Up until this weekend, I just compartmentalized that issue and chalked it up to “it’s a complex world and you have to pick your battles.” Plus, I really like sushi and tonkatsu and eel and karaage and chicken flautas and and and.

Over the past week, I’ve been overdosing on past episodes of the show Citizen Radio, hosted by comedian Jamie Kilstein and political writer Alison Kilkenny. They are both vegans and couch their veganism in terms of social justice. That’s a very compelling argument and one that, as I mentioned, I’ve been willfully ignoring. On a recent show, they interviewed the progressive punk band Rise Against. At the end of the interview, Alison and Jamie asked the band to recommend things they found inspiring, and one of the band members recommended the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. I got it from the library on Thursday and became a vegan yesterday.

Why Not A Vegetarian?

I initially thought I’d become a vegetarian and then maybe move on to being a vegan. The more I read about the issues, though, the more vegetarianism seems to fall short of the mark from an ethical and social justice perspective. It’s nearly impossible in this country to get dairy products or eggs from a source other than factory farming. I’m slightly more ambivalent about folks who raise their own chickens in small numbers to collect their eggs. Some of my very closest friends do this and care deeply for their chickens. They treat them humanely and let them live natural lives. These people are certainly the exception, not the rule, however, so it’s easier for me to cut those things out completely. (There’s also the fact that even the most humane treatment involves caging animals, but I haven’t really reached an opinion on this yet.)

I also like the idea of limiting animal consumption in other ways than just food. Being a vegan can impact the clothes and chemicals I use and some of the social interactions I have, and it also fits well with my anti-corporate philosophy.

Now What?

Well, now I have a lot of learning to do. I bought a vegan cookbook and got quite a few other resource suggestions from Jenn Cornish. I also need to examine the other areas of my life and the other purchases I make to see what needs to be modified and what alternatives exist. Citizen Radio is sponsored by Vegan Essentials, which is one source of products (not just food) made to vegan standards.

I also need to find more vegetables that I like and more ways to prepare them. I’ve never been a huge veggie fan, so I’m looking forward to expanding my horizons. I already eat (and in some cases cook) a lot of Japanese food without meat or fish or chicken, and I’m also a big fan of Indian food. I hope to add some other cuisines to my diet as well.

Another book I’m reading, Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World (Tofu Hound Press), suggested going “cold tofu” — become a vegan and commit to it for three weeks, with the idea that at the end of that time it will be easy to keep going. So that’s what I’m doing. Wish me luck!

Published in Food Politics & Activism Random Musings


  1. Mom Mom

    Good luck, Hon.

  2. Suzanne Morgan Suzanne Morgan

    I’ll vouch for the fact that I was much healthier (and quite a bit thinner) when I ate vegan (never went so far as to toss out my wool socks, though). Good luck – there are lots of options and resources out there. We ourselves are embarking on a new dietary adventure – trying a period of eating gluten-free, dairy-free and (mostly) soy-free while remaining vegetarian and committed to local foods. Oh yeah, and with two ultra-fussy, veggie-boycotting children in the home. Yikes!

    • @Mom: Thanks!

      @Sue: Am I reading your comment correctly that you’re no longer vegan? If not, what made you change your mind? This is all quite new to me.

  3. Hey Jason,
    I read the jazz programmer’s list and perked up when I saw your post about going vegan. Also like your Peace,Love and Jazz before your sig. So I went exploring and found that you, Raj and I have so much in common. It isn’t everyday you get this combination so it’s always so good to acknowledge and give thanks 🙂 We are jazz musicians,vegans,greenies,bike riders,Peace workers. We did a year of RAW food which was the BEST but could not maintain because we ran the Nevada Presidential campaign of Con. Dennis Kucinich and weren’t home much. So, had to take a moment and connect and thank you for what you do in all the different ways that mean so much! I am going to read several of your categories. I appreciate your perspective 🙂
    Peace, Love and Light,
    Diana and Raj

    • Thanks, Diana. I appreciate your comments very much. I think all of us lefty-wacko-bike-riding-jazzheads should form our own party and take over!

  4. Good for you! I have been a Vegan since March 2009 and doubt I will ever go back. I found three books (or I should say my wife found them)that helped us both in the kitchen:
    1. The E-2 Diet
    2. Help there is a Vegan in the house
    3. The Supermarket Vegan

    Stay positive, there are a ton of people out there that will admonish your decision.


  5. sheila sheila

    read you from PA your second pig poem then jumped to blog entry..
    good luck with veganism..take vitamins and you will need to seek out a steady prtein source if you are going pure vegan and not ovo-lacto..good luck:)
    btw steer clear of overly processed soy products like vegan or veggie burgers..the chemicals are so toxic..

    eggplant spread
    from the askew kitchen of sheila harris
    (aka ‘secret spread’)
    this is an Italian is meatless but you could boost the protein by adding parmesian cheese or even italian sausage..
    this recipe can be easily doubled ,tripled..etc..

    1 med eggplant washed ,peeled(or not) sliced then chunked into medium sized cubes
    4 hot and 2 sweet banana peppers(or change it around for less hot ..2 hot ,4 sweet) can use any kind of long pepper ..italian banana,cubanella work best…
    washed, seeded or..if you like the heat leave some in from the hot peppers.. and sliced and then medium sized squares
    4 fresh skinned or large peeled canned tomato (the progesso are best)..chop the tomato into generous chunks
    3-4 garlic cloves smashed or chopped well
    3/4 to 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
    1 generous tablespoon basil dried.
    or if fresh basil chop coarse but add at the end in the finished pan ; turn off the heat …don ‘t cook the fresh..
    in deep cast iron or steel pan (not coated with that carcinogenic causing non stick Teflon….)
    heat olive oil, ..lightly brown garlic..then add the eggplant and peppers and cook on low to med heat stirring to prevent burning til all softened (10-15 minutes)
    add the canned or fresh,skinned tomato (drained )and chopped to the pan and the dried basil..simmer all until all soft and eggplant practically spreadable..done!

    great on pasta,as a sandwich spread with meat or cheese or alone as filling….use your imagination but does NOT go well with peanut butter…..:)

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