I came to veganism slowly. Some might say kicking and screaming. Before becoming vegan, I could eat chicken 3 times a day, 7 days a week. After my first veganniversary, a report came out that chicken consumption in the US dropped by millions in the prior year. I take credit for much of the drop.
When my husband, Ethan, first chose to be vegan, he would sit and cry while watching hours of horrific videos showing torture, abuse and murder of farmed animals. Then during meal times, when I was still an omnivore, I had to endure comments like, “how is your plate of murder?” He was full on vegangelical. Yet, rather than drawing me into a conversation, these comments had the opposite effect and pushed me away from wanting to hear anything about the horrors of factory farming. However, over time, as his rhetoric diminished, I could hear the meaning in his words.
I took Kathy Freston’s approach of “leaning into veganism,” and embraced being a “flexitarian.” I started simply with “Meatless Mondays.” After a few weeks, that extended into “Tofu Tuesdays, “ “Wegetable Wednesdays,” etc. Even though I knew what was right for the animals and the planet, not to mention my health, I still resisted making the leap. I knew that once I committed, that was it. There would be no more fried chicken. No more turkey on Thanksgiving. No more chicken parmesan. To me, being vegan was a question of morals and to stray would require compromising my morals; something I am not willing to do. So, as long and I didn’t commit, I could still eat my favorite foods.
On September 17, 2011, I completed five days in a row eating a completely vegan diet. I didn’t make a fuss about it, I just wanted to see if I could do it. I did it one day at a time. Each day I committed to not eating any animal products. On the sixth day, Ethan and I attended a birthday party for an acquaintance of ours. We knew the food options for Ethan would be minimal at best and planned on going after the party to go to a nearby pizza place that in addition to an omnivorous menu, also had a full vegan menu. As we sat waiting to order, Ethan asked me if I knew what I was getting. My usual response would have been, “Yes, a chicken parm hero.” However, this time I said, “I know what I want, but I know what I am getting.” I skipped the parm and got a pizza with vegan cheese. I committed.
Before embracing veganism, I considered myself an animal lover. And I was. But I was also willfully blind about who I was eating. I maintained the disconnect between the cow in the pen in a factory farm and the steak on the grill. However, as I learned more and took off the blinders, I knew I had to stop being complicit in the needless and unjustifiable torture and murder of sentient beings. Over time, I learned that missing certain foods is ok. Being vegan does not mean I forgot how my formerly favorite foods taste. But knowing who that food once was and how it ended up on my plate prevents me from ever eating them again.
Michael is a recovering lawyer. After practicing in the field of Corporate Litigation for 12 years, he was tired of representing corporations over the interests of individuals. Since stopping practicing, he has come to recognize that the law needs to work more on helping all individuals, regardless of species. When not running the show at Chelsea Foot and Ankle, Michael can be found either in the kitchen trying out new recipes, watching Dr. Who, or taking photos the old fashioned way, with an actual 35mm camera. You can check out his photography at here. He and Ethan are proud to be Barnyard Benefactors for Our Hen House and Guardian Circle members of The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). Michael is a certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator and a proud graduate of Victoria Moran’s Main Street Vegan Academy. He is also a certified by PCRM as a Food For Life Instructor. Michael lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with his husband Ethan and their vegan dogs, Riley and Charlie.