Guest Post – Hubs’ Journey
I have been talking about writing a guest blog for about 8 months and finally the time has come to just sit down and write. I thought I would share a little bit about my journey and how becoming a father changed how I looked at the food on my plate and started living a vegan and compassionate lifestyle.
When my wife started this blog over two years ago, I was still an omnivore but considered myself to be 95% vegan. Looking back, it is apparent to me that I still viewed being vegan as a diet, not a lifestyle. For the parents that are out there that have that one friend or relative that tells you how your life will change with kids, listen, they are so right.
I was raised an omnivore. I respect my parents approach to the food choices we were brought up with and the lifestyle we lived. I am not one to look back on anything and say “damn, I wish it would have been this way”. My father has taught me to look back on my life choices and respect that it is part of my past, reflect on where we were, and celebrate where we are today. I am grateful for my past and how it has led me to where I am today. I won’t go into complete detail in this post, but we lived in rural Colorado so eating meat was part of my upbringing.
I expected life to change when FVB was born and it did. It just did not fall in the plan that I assumed it would. I expected there to be a huge philosophical shift in my mindset overnight, but the life changing moments were more of the physical type. Some examples being: learning how to change a meconium filled diaper, creating a bond at any moment possible, trying to figure out how a cry can be so deafening and cute at the same time, and consuming as much coffee as my body would allow. Don’t get me wrong, the hospital was absolutely one of the most amazing moments of my life. That moment of relief that your wife can finally take a deep breath and relax from the exhaustion of child birth, the gut wrenching (yet beautiful) sight of another living being coming out of said wife, and the overwhelming joy of seeing that face emerge into this world. Experiencing the moment when your child enters your life for the first time will always be a highlight in my life. Even after all of these changes, I was still waiting for the spontaneous, cloud parting change that everyone was talking about. That change came for me as I spent 3 days driving from CO to NY, with just the dogs and my thoughts.
Our car was packed with miscellaneous items that we needed for the few months that we would live with my in-laws (plus whatever was thrown into the car in desperation after the POD reached its capacity), enough snacks to last me 3 days, our pug, and our pit bull. I was new to podcasts and my wife had raved about Serial so I downloaded it, thinking it would be a great way to pass time on the trip. If any of you have listened to this podcast you will understand that once I started to listen I couldn’t stop and the season didn’t last to the next day. So on day 2, I was armed with my ipod filled with Grateful Dead and my own thoughts. As I cruised down the highway, I kept thinking about how awesome my life was and how much I loved those two people waiting on the other side of the country. My thoughts slowly consumed me and the volume on the bootleg slowly got lower and lower. I found myself thinking about when our children grow up and how we will be raising them. The main thoughts revolved around being kind to everyone and not being an asshole. So I dug in and tried to empathize with what a child would be faced with growing up.
One area that consumed me was treating everyone with respect and kindness, regardless of where they lived, how they were raised, their religious beliefs, sexual preference, or color of their skin. None of that matters. Be kind to everyone. I looked to my right and see our pug sleeping on her bed riding shotgun and it hit me. What about animals? Then the thoughts started to pour in. As our kids begin to take their first steps and can muster up the strength to get to the dog, we will have to say be nice to the dog. What about the other animals? Why just companion animals? Shit. I am thinking too much. If FVB grows up and wants to share a steak with me, why shouldn’t he? Why do I eat steak? Shit. Shit. Shit. I like cows. I would never kill a cow myself. Every time I am up at my dad’s house I love sitting out and watching them in the field. I remembered that time I was working on some random guys ranch and I left before my shift ended. We were moving a herd into a holding pen to get them tagged and numbered. This ranch was the first time I worked somewhere other than the family friends ranch that has very different views on the treatment of cattle. At this new ranch as we were moving a group in, one of the cows tried to turn in the chute and began to get stressed. She couldn’t make the turn around and ended up getting her front leg caught in the railing putting her on the ground. I went to free her leg and as I did so two other workers came up told me to get away and started to shock her with prods to get her to stand. Her foot is stuck. They kept shocking her. Hey asshole, her foot is stuck so instead of yelling at her to get up and shocking her, how about we free her leg? After a few minutes they finally listened and I was able to free her leg. I grabbed my gloves and coffee cup and left. Shit. If I was so upset at that, why would I support that poor cow’s death by buying steak?
Floodgates then opened. I started to think about when I would fish, I would practice catch and release. So if I am not comfortable killing the animal myself, why would I be comfortable with someone else doing it?
This is when it happened folks – I finally started to see how I was disassociating the death of an animal and the meat we buy at the store.
I kept thinking that when my wife was pregnant and people would ask how we were planning on raising a child in a half omni, half vegan household, I was always the one who said we will teach them the truth about where our food comes from. I was the one that wanted to provide the education for our kids in the hope that they would join me in my omni life. I was not viewing it through a kid’s eyes, until that road trip. I started to think about FVB and his little eyes and how he loves to interact with animals. How in the world could I suggest that we kill and eat our dog? I know we do not need to eat meat to survive, so why teach him it is necessary? I came to the conclusion that I just couldn’t teach my kids to discriminate between any type of animal. So why would I? And just like that…..Boom. Vegetarian.
Then I started to really think about dairy. I kept thinking about two things: education and empathy. I told myself I would get educated about dairy, and try to find some unbiased information regarding the health benefits of dairy and make sure that it was vital to my and my son’s survival. Wait….my wife hasn’t had dairy for years, just developed a child inside her womb, and gave birth to a very healthy boy, and we are raising this boy without dairy. No doctor has ever questioned her health or my son’s. So it can’t be vital, rightl? Shit. Here we go again. Okay, let me move on to empathy. I started to remember how I felt when FVB was first born and feeling the need to be a complete protector of him. AND I AM JUST THE FATHER! I can’t imagine the emotions and feelings that come from a person that has carried and delivered such a remarkable soul. So then I thought about the dairy cows. For us to drink milk and eat cheese, a cow has to produce milk, right? Okay so I am not a biology expert, but that would mean that a cow would either have to be pregnant or give birth to a baby cow to extract the milk. So, what happens to the calf? Shit. shit shit shit shit shit. Here I am thinking about a poor mother cow that has to be inseminated to produce a calf, carry that calf to term, have it removed from her life, only to be hooked up to a milk sucking machine? Nope. Try to turn your head all you want on that one, but when you look at the underlying factors it is absolutely hideous. Seriously, empathize what it would be like to be that cow. I can’t support any idea that has anything to do with that. I have been astonished by many things over the course of FVB life so far and one of the most confusing questions people ask (primarily they ask wifey because I don’t have the plumbing) is when are you going to stop breast feeding and ween FVB on milk? Wait, what? You are asking when are we planning on stopping breast feeding from his own mother to switch over to breast milk of another animal? The milk that is created from that animal belongs to that baby, no? Help me understand the reasoning behind that PLEASE. From that day on, I have continued to educate myself on the ways that food is brought to the table and I became a vegan. I have also since moved away from tip-toeing around the word vegan because of society’s negative connotations (I used to say I ate a plant based diet) because in all essence of the lifestyle I am a vegan. I will raise my children with the same moral compass and strive to educate them with nothing but the truth. As a parent, it is my opinion that truth is of the utmost importance to raising our next generation. That fish over there hanging in the restaurant kitchen – it’s not sleeping, it’s dead. Those cows lined up in that big barn over there? Yeah, they have their babies ripped from them mere minutes after birth so people can consume cheese and milk. Oh and see those tiny crates outside, yeah those are called veal crates. They are for male baby calves to live in until they are big enough to be slaughtered for meat. That is the truth.
Well, that’s my journey! People ask me quite a bit about it and find it quite shocking that my lovely wife had little influence on my journey. I think she was just as shocked as everyone else was when I showed up to NY dedicated to raising our children and embracing this lifestyle for myself. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure she was happy, but given our 8 years together as half omni – half veg household, she must have been shocked to hear I came to this on my own. I look forward to my next chance to post on here – being a vegan man and raising boys.
Peace, love, and cheers,
From Chelsea: So thankful that my wonderful husband decided to become vegan! I hope you enjoyed reading about his journey, and that he may inspire others to make the switch as well!