Going Vegan, Ep. 3: Family reaction
Hatching a New Years’ Plan
I decided to put my plan into action for New Years.
After all, a New Year, a new start…and that way, I wouldn’t have to sacrifice all my Christmas goodies. As I sit sipping tea (with milk) and banana bread (made with eggs and butter), I relished my last few days of decadence.
If I was going to “clean up” my act, I figured I was in the perfect place for a little dairy blow out before the big day came. You see, we were having a family reunion over the holidays. My family hails from the Midwest, where all things good come covered in butter and cheese. And sometimes baked with cornflakes on top. Last night, we ate buttered corn, cheesey sour cream potatoes (made the way my Grandma Kay taught us too, and they are outrageously delicious), honeyed ham loaf (well, I didn’t eat this since I’m pesco-vegetarian, but it smelled divine), buttered carrots, regular mashed potatoes with butter, and a brilliantly green opaque jello “salad” with nuts and fruit in it. This “ambrosia” actually might have been vegan, but I abstain from all food fluorescent.
The theme of the meal? Butter. Butter, butter, butter.
My 90-year old grandmother still drinks a couple of glasses of whole milk a day, and it was a staple of our diet growing up. With all the dairy farms in the Midwest, butter and milk practically have entrée status. No meal (or side dish) is complete without them. It is virtually unpatriotic to abstain from milk in our family, just as it would be unpatriotic to buy a Japanese car in Michigan.
No big deal though, right? Substitute olive oil in for butter, and there’s still all that delicious taste. And from what I hear, olive oil is much better on the heart than butter. And of course, the upside is that no cows are bothered to make it.
“Hey Dad, I’m thinking of going vegan in the New Year.”
“You know, where you don’t eat meat, and you don’t eat diary products or eggs either.”
“Because it’s nicer to the animals.”
My Dad looks unconvinced: “Cows don’t get hurt when you milk them.” (Did I mention my family used to have a farm?)
“Well, maybe not when they’re hand milked, but when you do it by machine, their udders can get infected, and it’s bad for them.”
“Oh, their udders get infected anyway.”
“Okay, but it’s harder on them being hooked up to machines, and then you take their calves away and it’s upsetting to them.”
My squints at me like Clint Eastwood, “You ever see a momma cow kick its baby? That’s what they do when they’re tired of feeding them. Kick ‘em away. Smack. You think that’s not upsetting?”
“Bah. They’re cows. They’re fine.”
My 90-year old grandmother looked aghast, “No milk? Where will you get your calcium?”
“Um..broccoli. Broccoli has more calcium than milk does.”
She looked unconvinced, “Welllllll, I don’t know about that.”
My sister was more supportive. She got me the book, “Living Vegan for Dummies” for Christmas. The first few chapters are all about “going at your own pace” and not pissing anyone else off by being high and mighty. They spend a lot of time on this part, so I’m guessing vegans have a reputation for doing just that.
I make a note to self to tread lightly.
(Author’s note: For any readers that are confused by the dates, I previously chronicled these events, but never published them. However, it’s a timely and parallel re-telling, as I’ve just gone BACK to being vegan again after an encounter with a dominatrix naturopath…but that’s for later in the story…)