My name is Catalina and I’m a fairly recent “believer”…not the Bieber kind. I was an omnivore until three years ago. Then one rainy day, I decided to watch Forks Over Knives. I loved the scientific aspect of that documentary. It prompted a couple of days of non-stop research about the meat industry, veganism, and commercial animal farming. By the time I was done, I felt that I had no choice but to stop eating meat, as I quickly realized that the food that was getting on my plate was the result of tremendous violence, cruelty, and unnecessary suffering. The harsh reality hit me: we were far from the happy and “humane” farm-to-table process I naively believed in. As an animal lover, I could no longer look at meat with the desensitized attitude I was conditioned to. I wouldn’t eat a cat or a dog…so why is it OK to look at pigs and cows differently? Pain is pain.
So I gave up all meat, but continued eating fish and dairy products. The decision to end my consumption of all animal products wasn’t swift and impulsive, like most of my decisions. It was rather gradual, and still a work in progress… for many reasons vegans would most likely understand: Romanian and Italian family pressure, work environment, lifestyle that involves traveling over 50% of my time to some areas in the US where asking for olive oil instead of ranch or blue cheese dressing is like asking the waiter to give me a kidney. “You want what?”
While I’m now a vegan at home, I still eat the occasional fish product when I travel or at restaurants, something that I will gradually cut out.
Over the past three years, I felt the health benefits of cutting meat out of my diet exponentially increasing. I LOVE how I feel. Yes, my mom still calls it extreme and is very disappointed that I don’t eat her “sarmale”. But she’s finally opening up to the idea of a couple of meat-free days a week, thanks to some vegan dishes I made that she found absolutely delicious. “Well, if I had a chef cooking meals like that… I would’t need meat either” she said last night after I hosted a 100% vegan dinner. Baby steps, right?
I’m very proud and thrilled that I took this journey. Without a doubt, it was one of the most important decisions I’ve made. Looking back, I realize that it was about visibility and knowledge. It’s easier to not know, to not see; it removes the negative emotions. I saw a quote once: “The opposite of love is not hate. It is indifference“. I choose not to be indifferent.