Monday, January 10, 2011

Goodbye and Hello

"I know, we're not where I promised you we'd be by now. But maybe it's a question of who'd want it anyhow." - The Swell Season, "The Rain"

After much soul-searching, I've decided to retire this labor of love called "The Vegan Good Life" and start fresh with a new blog.

I've made no secret of my struggles to eat vegan in every single scenario as I tried to switch from lacto-ovo vegetarianism. My biggest challenges: some vegan products taste, at best, just okay (ahem, vegan cheese); some things cost more (soy yogurts, for example, are double the sale price most pay at supermarkets); and social situations with an excess of foods, especially ones I enjoy eating. When there's an abundance of pies at Thanksgiving, does it matter in the scheme of animal welfare if I have a slice of pecan pie? Also frustrating was worrying about a dollop of milk in butternut squash apple soup at my local soup place, or when traveling wanting to try tiramisu in Italy (but didn't) or running around looking for soy gelato in 25 places. Vegan clothes are a whole other ballpark. I am an avid thrift shopper and clothes swapper and don't see anything wrong with acquiring a second-hand Irish wool hat for $4 if it's going to help homeless cats or a silk dress at a swap.

"Easy" is the most frequent word I hear touted by vegans, but food choices are anything but. They are emotional, tied to economics, family support, and product availability, among other factors. What's easy for one person might not be so for another. Most people are simply going to tinker with their diets over the course of their life, and I am one of them.

I've kept the name up until now because I wanted to be a different type of voice in the community. I simply can't relate to the blogs of people kissing their cupcakes or non-stop joyous attitudes. That's just not real life, that's an image you're trying to sell. There is a real disconnect to how veganism is being marketed to people, and how difficult people find doing it completely when they try it (so then not doing it at all, a great failure for animals). If I've learned anything, it's how much I dislike dietary labels, which is why I want a blog name without one.

I sincerely wish this absolutist issue was not so taboo and people were able to accept and embrace the challenges and accept not being perfect. People shouldn't be made to feel like a failure, or that we're in a game of "I'm the better advocate than you are." I truly in my heart believe we should focus less on "being a vegan" or "going vegan" and instead emphasize eating a plant-based diet as much as possible, eating smaller portions, and wasting less versus signing up for a 100 percent commitment, which most people won't or cannot be able to do. Theory far too often trumps reality, but I'd rather live in reality, and set goals that are attainable.

Benjamin Button wrote in a letter to his daughter he hoped she'd live a life she was proud of. I live a life I'm pretty proud of. Perfect? Never. Apologetic? No way.'s time for a change, because that's what life is about. My new blog is called American Dream Finder. It is my chronicling of my life in my own pursuit of the American dream. But like this blog, the dialogue will not be limited to any one topic and is welcome to people of all beliefs. And, yes it will continue to showcase all the great vegan and vegetarian food in my life.

If you'd like, I invite you to follow me, link me on your site, or just come on by for a visit whenever you feel like it. I shall be here having "a cuppa" with my musings, travels, eats and the like. As a good friend said (and I use this in the context of bloggers who pour their hearts out), "we don't write for ourselves, we write to be heard." I hope we can continue the conversation together, even if you've only been a reader and not a commenter, and create a better world for ourselves, animals, people, and our planet.

Thanks for reading,


Cate said...

As much as I've enjoyed reading this blog over the past couple years, I'm eager to see where else your blogging journey takes you.

Catherine said...

Thanks Cate! I think this will be a big year of change for me. I’m looking forward to expanding the dialogue!

ConsciouslyFrugal said...

Oh sweet baby jesus, you about made me panic there. I thought you were giving up blogging all together! So glad to see you're going to keep sharing with us. I do so love your little corner of the world.

Yanno, I've always found that people who are fundamentalist, perfectionist and judgmental in their views are generally not being very honest. I can think of so many instances where someone was raging about something in a group setting and when I was able to talk to them alone, the truth eventually surfaced. The lesbian who was uber angry with bisexual woman actually slept with men in secret. The vegan who raged at "bullsh!t vegetarians" ate dairy pretty frequently. All their ranting was just a manifestation of internal shame.

Granted, it's not always that, but more often than not, I think it is. Which is why I really wish we'd all just get comfortable with telling the truth.

Anyhoo, I will happily pester you on your new blog! Thanks for continuing to share you journey with us.

Candles by Nature said...

I'm a fairly new follower to your blog, but I look forward to following your new blog :)

Catherine said...

Thanks so much for the comments, and for continuing on.

You all know my thoughts on high horses! Many are "Do as I say, not as I do."

For the record, I've attended many an animal rights function and have rarely encountered very judgmental people in person. Instead I've met mainly passionate activists frustrated at how egregious the cruelty is while the world turns its back. Sadly the perfectionist and absolutist sect is just very vocal, always quick to chime in on vegans they disapprove of (Alicia Silverstone, with her occasional cheese eating, comes to mind).

Thanks again. New posts coming soon! The site's a work in progress (as am I!)

Cortney said...

I can so relate to this. It's so difficult for me to deal with the militant factions of the vegan movement. And when they say "easy" I want to bang my head into a wall- especially when they say it's easy for "anyone" to do it. Really, anyone? Even a low income single mother in a neighborhood saturated with fast food on every corner but not a grocery store in sight??

I think there is a lot of unexamined privilege and judgment in the vegan movement. I heartily agree with you that it is valuable and effective to concentrate on eating a a plant based, ethical diet. I appreciate that my uncle's girlfriend hunts for all her meat. I appreciate that my cousin only eats humanely raised, sustainable meat. But the vegan movement tells me that I am "placating speciesism" by doing that. It's disheartening how this all or nothing mentality washes away the opportunity for so many people to make valid and good changes in their diet.

Best of luck to you. I've read off and on and have had many of the same struggle you have had in trying to transition to being vegan. I felt like a failure for not being "perfect" since 99.99% vegan apparently "doesn't count". I've had militant vegans tell me I may as well be eating steaks from factory farms if I eat organic cheese from time to time. Here's to the next chapter!

Catherine said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story Cortney, and the well wishes. I wish more people could speak freely without judgment.

One of my biggest grievances other than the liberal use of "easy" is the assumption every aspiring vegan lives in New York or LA and has unlimited income. Sure, Ellen Degeneres can say it's easy, but does she worry about personal spending? Instead of expending so much time promoting high end fashion and vegan eateries in big cities, perhaps "How to eat vegan on a budget" would be more fitting for the current times. I've hit only brick walls bringing up the economic issue.

I was at an activist meeting where someone asked about free range eggs, and the final answer was, "We're a vegan organization." But there's no magic wand any of us have? Groups are not perfect either - most of them use cheaper foreign labor instead of American labor to cut costs of their t-shirts, bags, etc. The ethical highground doesn't apply to humans?

I too have been disappointed by the quick judgment, and think some vegans almost relish the game of "gotcha" in those not perfect. I don't believe at all people are so perfect. Could some of their retirement money be invested in Smithfield Foods? Then perhaps they are not a financial vegan, and not worthy of the "vegan" label. How far can it go?

No one wants to sign up for a 'my way or the highway' way of life. Don't ever let anyone make you feel like a failure. We're all doing the best we can here.

To the next chapter, indeed...