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MICHAEL DOWNEY - a rare sign of sanity from that huge mental hospital just to the north of here called Canada.

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15/12/07

More and more people sharing my vegan disposition

MICHAEL DOWNEY
The Western Star

We're a country that is apparently comprised mostly of people who are either overweight, and/or obsessed with dieting into the realm of malnourishment. Here in the lackadaisical tenancy of rich western civilization it's amusing, even for the poor.

Elsewhere I'd imagine it's infuriating.

Last week I wrote about the madness that has overwhelmed us - struggling to pass laws governing trans-fats like they were hand grenades and imposing hilariously impotent regulations on school cafeterias while finally breaking down and opting for elastic waistband pants.

What astounded me was the positive reaction by readers in regards to my introductory ramble, whereas I briefly mentioned my conversion from happy-go-lucky carnivore to grouchy, austere vegan.

A few years ago, I couldn't grasp the point of being a vegan. Nor could I conceive of what foul madness must drive a person to commit to such an undertaking. Self important, I resented the sanctimonious vegans, and once applauded the audacity of a friend who literally ate the flyer for tofurkey, that was given to her by a vegan at Thanksgiving.

My delight at witnessing such a perfectly offensive manoeuvre is the only proof that I'm behaving of my own volition, and have not been brainwashed by some militant vegan terrorist cell. A few years ago I dated a girl who was a hardcore vegan.

I thought that if there was ever a point in my life where I'd become a vegan, it would be then. But no. I wolfed down hamburgers with reckless abandon, while scoffing at her revulsion for my eating habits.

Now I understand. I took note of Lisa Simpson's lesson in an early Simpson's episode where Lisa learns that badgering people may not be the most appropriate way of teaching people, since no matter what you intend, something you're doing would be considered offensive to somebody else who has their head on straighter than yours.

It was a few more years before the weight of the everything that's wrong in this world broke me, and I realized that you can't complain about what's wrong with the environment and human behaviour, while secretly using your own gratification to justify contributing to the damage.

So one day, I just stopped. No more meat.

Welcome to miserable vegetarian life.

It was then that I realized that I must have been eating barnfuls of animals each day, because nearly every meal I was accustomed to eating was off-limits.

The next year would be a distressing display of self-discipline.

The most noticeable immediate consequence of my decision was that, in additional to my spectacularly clear conscience, an undiagnosed but immensely annoying complication that had been plaguing my bowels suddenly disappeared.

I realize now that becoming a vegetarian is exponentially easier than becoming a vegan. I'm glad I didn't undertake the full vegan renovation at one time - the psychological exertion alone would have been unbearable. I was taking refuge from veganism in vegetarianism, essentially capitalizing on the defence that I was already doing enough, thus allowing me to eat pizza every day.

Well, that's all done with now. I don't eat any animals products, aside from the expected extenuating circumstances; accidental ingestion and eating products that use animals but fail to label the minute traces used.

Of course, there's the predictable contradictions of practicality - I'm not about the throw away my durable leather combat boots in exchange for something flimsy.

But more and more, I'm encountering people the same age as me who share my vegan disposition. I feel comforted when I see other agitated young people who are concerned with the state of the world's environmental/political spectrum and are competent enough to engage in the only solution possible, undeterred by the very real possibility that it may not prove to effect enough change quickly enough.

The fact that their conviction drives them to try, amidst insurmountable odds, is inspiring.

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If you have any comments, questions, ideas, etc., my e-mail address is downey911(at)hotmail.com.
Thanks for reading and take care when crossing the street.

www.thewesternstar.com/index.cfm?sid=89791&sc=27

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