“A Diet For A New America”
I really do love meat. I’m the one that people used to pass their trimmed fat from their juicy steaks to. My favorite meat, though, is chicken. I think I get that craving from my mom. Being Latina, arroz con pollo, is an all time favorite. I also really love vegetables. It didn’t start out that way, of course, like any child, veggies were gross to me. My father, also Latino, taught us that the earth provides us with all the natural foods we need for good mental & physical health. Medicines in our home were made of concoctions of food that my dad would whip up to either treat an ailment or use as prevention. It worked, because my brother & I rarely visited the doctor. Meat, at our home, was more like a treat. Fruits, veggies & grains (mainly rice) were the foods we ate most of the time. But when it was “treat” time, my mother cooked mainly chicken or fish, while my dad surprised us with red meat. This lifestyle kept us from getting sick even when our peers were constantly sick around us, for one reason or another. Ok, so this is still not necessarily a cruelty free lifestyle. I’m getting to that…
Fast forward to my late 20s, I picked up the book “A Diet For A New America” by John Robbins. This book, along with PETA’s vegan kit, changed my life instantly. I chose to be vegan overnight. I’ve always loved & cared for animals of all sizes, but through this book & other reading materials, I learned how animals were raised for meat. In good conscious, I couldn’t continue to eat meat. I didn’t eat any animal products for a year. I later realized, I wasn’t quite ready to go all vegan…yet, so I stayed a vegetarian for over 7 years. Basically, I didn’t eat anything with a face.
I heard & read that so many vegans/vegetarians don’t miss or crave meat anymore. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case with me. They weren’t just cravings that I could get over. I don’t have an addictive personality, because any time I felt I was eating too much of one thing, I would change it up right away. It probably wasn’t a lack of nutrients, even though I’ve suffered from chronic IBS on & off for most of my life. I’ve learned that my IBS was caused by stress, but later on it was to be exacerbated by the bad foods I ate. Despite the cravings, I continued to remind myself why I chose to be a vegetarian in hopes to reach my goal to be vegan. In my mid-30s, I felt I was in the best shape ever. I figured out how to balance my carbs & dairy intake, but my so-called cravings wouldn’t stop. I felt like the desire to eat meat grew stronger as each year passed. Later, I crashed & made a lousy decision that I regret to this day.
When I moved back to California, after a few years in Pennsylvania, I couldn’t take the cravings anymore. I dove into the other extreme, deciding to eat fast food like there was a healthy food apocalypse. This continued for another 4.5 years, since my life was dedicated to long work hours on the road. I had forgotten the reason why I chose to be vegetarian in the first place. The irony is that much of the clothes & supplies I had in my home were still cruelty free, but I wasn’t living a cruelty free lifestyle. My body started to shut down from the stress & the foods I was poisoning myself with. This forced me to change my ways.
To Be or Not To Be Vegan
Those who know me & are getting to know me through my CrtrGrl YouTube channel & social media, understand that I have a strong bond with nature & her critters (aka Crtrs). For personal reasons, I lost touch with nature for a while. It wasn’t until my husband, Scott, a nature buff himself, brought me back to the right track again.
I’m now experiencing things that I haven’t felt since I was a child, reminding me of how nature has always been my greatest teacher. Scott & I together, have learned & are still learning how to live on Earth as responsible humans. What is the lifestyle we choose to live today? Simply put, a cruelty free lifestyle.
Even when I was a vegetarian, I wasn’t entirely against hunting for food as long as it was done responsibly & humanely. Believe me, I had vegans tearing me apart for that. Let me explain. We are a part of nature as omnivorous animals, whether we like it or not. We may have forgotten this &/or we may not like it. There also seems to be misinformation out there about it. We are able to eat & digest plants, grains, fruit, meat, etc. The issue is not that we shouldn’t eat other animals. The issue is how much meat we eat & how we treat the animals we do eat.
We shouldn’t punish those who enjoy eating meat. It is who we are as one of nature’s Crtrs. Like other animals, we enjoy having sex & have the desire to procreate. When we go to the extreme of suppressing desires that are natural, it can actually backfire. Now, for those who choose not to eat any animal products, that’s great! It’s even a bonus if their bodies & minds accept it too! That’s not the case with everyone. Every person is different.
Many people have said to me, “Hunting/killing an animal is not humane, even if done responsibly”. My response is that this whole planet is based on life consuming other life. The difference between non-humans & humans that kill is, we’re the only animals that have our complex brain. You can look at it as a blessing or a curse, since it allows us to be too good at what we do. Culturally, humans feel that the planet is here just for us & that we’re superior to all life. We take & kill to excess, putting us out of balance with our ecosystem. The thing is, that is not how nature works. Nature is harsh & inhumane, but it is in balance. We need to learn how to be in balance with how we eat.
Cruelty Free Lifestyle
Scott & I choose a cruelty free lifestyle, by treating all life as humanely as possible & with respect, from the soil to the sky. We’ve been cleaning house, removing products & items that aren’t cruelty free. The cruelty free lifestyle should apply not just to non-human beings. We support companies that are local & follow fair labor practices too.
The only meat we eat are hunted responsibly by family members. To get a better understanding of how animals are hunted for food, I had a conversation with them. I learned that responsible hunters should only hunt the weak. They should also follow the hunting laws, not taking more than they should, etc. Responsible hunters also play a role in protecting & preserving the lands these animals inhabit. They try, as much as possible, to kill quickly. Since there is really no way to keep fish or other sea life from suffering when killed or raised for food, we don’t eat anything from the sea or farm raised anymore.
Farm animals suffer greatly, especially when raised in factory farms. We used to support a couple of farmers that use sustainable, ethical, eco-friendly, organic methods, but this isn’t necessarily cruelty free. When raising an animal for food, no matter how well you treat them, it is slavery. Even animals raised in the best farms still endure some form of pain & suffering. For instance, in order for a dairy cow to provide us with milk, their calves are taken away within two days from birth. Cows are sentient beings who understand and feel loss & separation, much like humans. Fundamentally, farm animals don’t have a choice. No voice, no choice. This realization led us to stop eating most products from farm animals.
Up until recently, Scott & I only ate organic, pasture raised eggs. But after learning when egg laying hens stop producing, they are killed for food, we are holding off. I’m now looking to get eggs from farms with only rescued hens, living their whole life in open pastures, even when they stop producing. I prefer to support those who rescue animals, rather than those who profit from buying or breeding animals.
Because we occasionally eat hunted meat, this makes us non-vegans. As CrtrGrl, I hope to influence people to try & live a more cruelty free lifestyle. I do understand those who continue to eat animal products, so I recommend they only buy from those farms that follow ethical practices. An exciting alternative is in our near future. Please check out Super Meat and other similar start-ups for more information on this. We’re super excited about the future for farm animals & our environment once these companies’ products become available.
Being a responsible consumer takes much research & work, but it is just that… a responsibility. We are all living on this planet together, so it is our responsibility to protect it, not destroy it. We need to live harmoniously with nature. The struggle with cravings is still there, but there are significantly more options available to satiate it than in the past. I have learned my lesson & I’m dedicated to sticking to a cruelty free lifestyle.
Living a cruelty free lifestyle is a journey for my husband and I. We have changed the way we eat over time as we’ve learned more about where our food comes from. We know that there is plenty of more learning ahead of us and are not afraid of discussion and respectful debate.
Through CrtrGrl, I hope to shift the misconceptions we have of nature & its Crtrs. Through my Jukebox series, I use music & videos to convey important messages on how we treat our fellow Crtrs, both domestic & wild. Through my Bite Size Factoid series, I hope to influence people to look at Crtrs in a different, more positive light, rather than with eyes of fear &/or disgust. Through my CrtrGrl Moments series, I hope to motivate people to step outside once in a while & take a break from society. Slow down from rush mode for a moment & check out how the tiniest to the largest Crtrs live just outside your home or office. Take it even further for a couple of days or so to go for a hike, walk, run, backpack, dive, swim, etc. & embrace all that nature is offering you.
I have many more projects coming, all dedicated to shifting how we humans have been programmed to think when it comes to the role we play on this planet & how we interact with all other species. I try to do this without sounding too preachy, rather to live my life, with my husband, in the way we feel nature is teaching us. We will continue to make mistakes, but we’ll also continue to learn from them.
As always, comments & thoughts are welcome. I especially enjoy when someone can zap that part of my brain, making me think in a way I haven’t before, even if I may not agree with it. The only thing I ask of you is to please refrain from using religion as justification for causing harm to others. I respect what you choose to believe in, but it’s not an argument I will respond to, instead your comment will be deleted. Thank you.
Note: The Gentle Barn is a reputable & loving non-profit sanctuary located in Santa Clarita, CA & they have a location in Tennessee. For more information on their wonderful barn, staff & of course, the perfectly adorable rescued Crtrs please visit them on Facebook: The Gentle Barn