April 27, 2012

Sometimes I Miss Eating Eggs.

An intimidated, imperfect (not-so-newbie anymore), vegan update.

I woke up the other night from a bizarre dream where I was at this diner I used to go to in college. That part’s not bizarre. It’s a recurring dream. It was sort of my “third place” then. I would go with friends and hang out. Go by myself and write or study. Go on a date.

And it’s one of those familiar, wallpaper of my memory places that shows up in dreams sometimes. Maybe if I had paid more attention during the Jung lectures in college I could tell you why. Maybe I should just take a drive over there. They probably have wi-fi now. Coffee is probably still just as awful. Waitresses are probably still just as rude.

The weird part was this: I was dreaming—lucidly, excitedly—about eating scrambled eggs.

I don’t want to make too much of it. It probably means something Freudian and weird like maybe I want to explore my creative potential or I’m feeling vulnerable or something. (Yes, I just Googled “dream meaning eating eggs.” Google was not super helpful). But whatever it means, if anything, I was really enjoying those eggs.

Maybe I haven’t been eating enough protein lately. As much as meat grosses me out, one way I can tell I’m not getting enough protein is that it actually smells somewhat appealing. That’s always an interesting conversation to have with other vegans and vegetarians too. Did you like it? Do you miss the taste of it? In general, I don’t. But those dream eggs were pretty awesome.

Today I was discussing with another writer, Emma Blue, about whether I believed it was possible to be an ethical or compassionate omnivore. Personally, I just can’t eat flesh. Just can’t get past it. Even if an animal were raised compassionately, I still don’t want to eat it.

But I allow my children to eat local, organic animal products. It’s a decision I educate them about, but don’t want to make for them. They know why I’m vegan, and they know why the dairy products and eggs they eat come from local farms.

I know some vegans think it’s 100% wrong all the time to eat any animal products. Factory farms, yes, there is just no justifying that. They are horrendous. But I have five friends I can think of off the top of my head who have backyard chickens. The chickens run around eating bugs and grass and roam free.

So there’s my quandry. If my main reason for being vegan is ethical, and there is an ethical way to eat eggs, would I ever consider eating them again? I have secondary health reasons for the dairy: it just makes me feel crummy. Before going vegan, I had tried raw and fermented dairy products, which were easier on me than even the local, lightly processed stuff. As delicious as it is though, there’s no getting around the fact that it makes me feel horrible, so even if I felt there were an ethical way to do it (which is a huge subject for debate) I just won’t do it.

But eggs? Sometimes I miss eggs.

So, why do we make these choices anyway? Why the labels? Who cares? Is it a pride thing? I know I get caught up in stubbornness—and not just on this issue. I’m kind of a naughty vegan on some fronts anyway. I still eat raw local honey. I have some wool sweaters (thrifted and gifts). And to tell you the truth, I’d be fine with never eating eggs again, but I’m not going to do it or not do it out of some fear of not keeping my V-card.

I’m a pacifist, who occasionally has the urge to give someone a high five. In the face. With a chair. I’m a feminist, who doesn’t mind being called a girl. I’m a vegan, who sometimes misses eating eggs. We are never just one thing. Nice, neat little labels nearly never fit. We are three-dimensional people—and then some.

So, I keep at it. I’m happily vegan. Or I’m happily a “plant-based eater.” Or “animal product free.” Or “sqaltrumlacious.” Or “perlentacent.” Or “vivalactickal.”

Or any other invented label which comes down to saying, “Hey. I want to think about this. I want to make the best, most compassionate, most ethical choice I can make with the information I have.”

Which is to say: I will continue to be me.

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