"Are you vegan?"
A few months ago, I was at Whole Foods making a bit of a mess with the panko bread crumbs in the bulk section when the bulk buyer at Whole Foods asked me, "Do you like peanut butter cups?" holding one up to offer me.
I said, "Yes, of course I like them but I am avoiding dairy so no thank you."
He turned to me, "Just dairy?"
I said, "Well, no, most animal products."
"Are you vegan?"
We got interrupted by another customer so were unable to finish the conversation but there was a bit of a pause. It would be easy to just say yes and move on but I am not comfortable with the title. I made the move to plant based eating to focus on whole foods and sustainable, responsibly cared for ingredients without driving myself crazy over it. A lot of this has to do with the huge tax commercially farmed animal protein takes on the environment. Abstaining from purchasing meat and other consumable animal products is a way that I personally can make a huge impact on reversing this trend. Dairy actually bothers me, physically in addition to its toll on the environment. I may never eat chicken again.
If I ever feel comfortable with how the animals were cared for/their impact on the environment, I would definitely still eat meat sparingly. It is the systematic mistreatment of animals raised solely for our consumption that gets problematic for me. Sparingly is how meat and other animal products are meant to be used from animals in nature or that have been cared for as farm animals. Our overconsumption of meat/dairy/eggs is what continues to drive big farm industry. So I have taken a stand in my personal life as well as in my professional life. You will see photos of vegetarian food I created as I transitioned into more stringent plant based cooking. It's about recognizing the value and power of plants and consuming mostly plant based foods instead of relying on meat as the center of a meal.