A few months ago I stopped being dietary vegan—after seven years, one heartfelt blog, and hundreds of recipe experiments. I thought I knew why I made the switch to eating meat again, and the way I reconciled it with myself was certainly true. But now that I’ve been indulging in practically everything but pork for two months (once or twice a week), I know there’s more to my decision.
I started eating meat again to rebel, to buck trends, to liberate myself from dogma and to stop staying static. These were all the exact same reasons I went vegan in the first place.
Let me tell you exactly what I mean.
Dietary veganism came into my life in the spring of 2008. I learned about this different way of being from some friends who lead me to a book called Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry. I read the book and stopped eating meat and dairy cold turkey. For me, at this time, there was simply no other choice.
In February of 2009, The Alchemist popped into my head in a way that I can really only describe as serendipitously. I’d thought of it for no known reason at all. So I bought the book and read it from cover to cover in one day, and I was moved.
Then in March I started noticing advertisements for free meditation groups popping up around my neighborhood in Brooklyn. That lead me to the practice of mindfulness—a practice I found I could benefit from anytime, anywhere, in many different ways. I started incorporating general mindfulness into my life.
For four years after going vegan, one thing continued to lead me to another in this way and I learned all manners of new ideas that have shaped my lifestyle and outlook on life. It was all very organic. Like riding a wave. Or natural algorithms. And because it was so organic, I felt it held more meaning.
I wrote in January about how much easier it is now to source meat from local, sustainable and humane suppliers. This is not an accident, and it’s because of people who care about doing it small and doing it the right way more than they care about enormous expansion. It’s also because of people who cared enough to question our food sources. The butcher I shop at was founded by a former vegetarian. Only a former vegetarian could start a shop so dedicated to the art of whole animal butchering and the practice of sourcing animals from small, local farms that are doing everything the right way. When you go vegan one of the first things people will tell you is that it won't make a difference. But this goes to show that the conscious consumer can make change. The challenge as I see it now is not abstaining from meat, but supporting small-scale sustainable and humane meat production and eating much less of it, eating seasonally, and eating whole foods.
Today we learned that McDonalds might start serving kale. Fascinating and most likely positive, if not a bit terrifying. Change, then, is made not by celebrities or corporations, but by the rebels. Those who buck trends. Those who liberate themselves from dogma. And those who stop staying static. Because it was the small-scale rebels who decided to try stuff like kale on their menus in the first place.
It has been fascinating to watch this entire spectacle of mainstream consciousness play out over the past year. From Silicon Valley and their health hacks—the bulletproof coffee craze that saw an almost unknown brand like Kerrygold butter fly off Whole Foods shelves virtually at light speed, the daily meditation that’s become the way to work yourself to death without working yourself to death—to Oprah's Super Soul Sundays, and antibiotic-free chicken (and now maybe even kale) at McDonalds.
This goes out to all the rebels, the real ones who shape the world. Stay ahead of the curve and don’t ever stay static.
As for me, I've come full-circle. I have an ouroboros tattoo on my left wrist to remind me not to ever stay too stuck in one place in life—to keep reinventing myself. It holds more meaning for me now than it ever has.