As many of you may already know, I do not eat animals.
But I have not been this way my whole life. I have gone in and out of vegetarianism since I was a teenager, but always went back to eating meat since I really didn’t know anything else. Growing up in a family that brought home neatly wrapped packages of dead animals for dinner was the norm for me.
I am not exactly sure how I was awakened to the cruelty and horror of the animal farming industry. But I do know I have been an animal lover my whole life. If you ever saw my family photo albums from when I was a young child; I was never NOT holding some kind of an animal! As a matter of fact Winklebean is sitting on my lap as I type this to you! Hamsters, gerbils, mice, bunnies, Guinea Pigs, kittens and cats, puppies and dogs you name it! My aunts and cousins had horses and even a donkey and goats! I Love love love all animals! When I was growing up, there was no internet. No plethora of information at every click. We had encyclopedias, dictionaries and of course television, but you can make a safe bet that there was no information being told about the truth of the animal farming industry. It is quite possibly the biggest secret being kept from the public. After all, if people truly witnessed the brutality of it all, from birth to death for these animals, quite possibly everyone would be vegan.
I believe PETA was the only material out there way back in the late 1980’s where I could get any ideas about the truth behind this torture industry. I remember making my first donation to them at about 17 years of age. I proudly drank my coffee in a mug that had a carrot on it who said: “Don’t eat your friends!” I truly wonder (now) how we as humans do not make the connection, or distinction rather, of “loving animals as pets” on one hand but killing them for dinner on the other hand. But of course I understand this separation. It is intentional and actively taught for us to associate farming with happy cows and pigs prancing in a field and willing giving up their lives to us so we can have a tasty meal. But the real truth cannot be further from that propaganda campaign. I won’t go into the details here though, since those who are interested can simply do an internet search on Factory Farming and you will see immediately.
But one thing I have realized in my journey towards veganism is that ALL animals are sentient beings.
Sentient meaning: able to feel, see, hear, smell, or taste. With the emphasis on FEEL. Think about your dog or your cat for a moment. Would you ever, in a million years ever consider eating him or her? Of course not…………………………………… but what if they tasted really great?
Hmmmm Dog bacon? Yumm 🙁
There are about 10 countries in the world currently, that eat cats and dogs all the time. Who are we to say they cannot? We eat cows, pigs, chickens, goats, lambs and many many more animal species every day. What ever happened that made us draw a huge dividing line between our pets and our food? Here in the USA, a 2012 consensus report listed total number of households owning dogs at 43,346,000. With an average of 1.6 dogs per household that’s 69,353,600 pet dogs. Cats as pets were more totaling 75,845,700. We are a nation that LOVES animals!
It’s called Species-ism: to have no qualms about killing certain species over others and the reasoning behind it. I ask you to think about that for a moment.
It wasn’t until I read the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer in 2009 that I went full on vegetarian (again) but this time did not look back. But I was still eating eggs and cheese, not to mention how much my small bakery was using on a daily basis. But I didn’t know that the dairy industry or even raising chickens for eggs was inhumane. After all, don’t those animals constantly produce milk and eggs? And what a waste if we didn’t “help” them by consuming all of that otherwise “waste”. Well that is the idea “they” want us to believe. And “they” are the beneficiaries of the animal farming industry. Did you know that a cow does not just produce milk all the time? Neither did I! I thought they were just literal milk fountains spewing milk all over the place constantly and we as humans had to be their good shepherds collecting all thatFREE milk to make ice cream an stuff! Wow, was I ever wrong. But once you stop and think for yourself (rather be programmed to believe what’s on a television commercial for cheese) you can make the nature connection it all makes sense! Duh, only pregnant females produce milk! So with out going into the gory details of how a mum cow is constantly impregnated throughout her life, simply to have baby cow literally ripped from her the moment it is born……you can do a quick search on Dairy Farming, and well…..grab a box of tissues if you have never heard a mama cow bellow for her new born male calf who is now being chained to a crate and harvested for veal. The female calves are “luckier”? They get to be raped over and again to live out the same fate of mum, to produce milk for us. Humans, who were never meant to drink any milk except that of our own mothers. Inevitably though they all get slaughtered for food and well…you get the idea.
PETA is still today the largest organization world wide on a quest for animal rights. I understand there are many conflicting arguments regarding PETA and their practices. Many Vegans and Animals Rights Activists I have spoken to do not have kind words to say about them. I am not 100% schooled on the pros and cons of this group, however I will say this; Since they are the largest active group in the world with the most money to spend on campaigning, I believe they are doing good by making people aware of the horrors inflicted on animals every second of every day in every country in this world as we speak. So if PETA can open the eyes of just 1 more person the way they did mine, then more power to them. Just my humble opinion.
Addtionally, Beyonce has been recently promoting her Vegan lifestyle. Now many have opinions about her too, as do I….but if a celebrity of her caliber can influence change and create awareness on the scale that she can then More Power to Her! Go Bey! She is an example of someone who is promoting veganism for the many health benefits it has to offer, not so much from the cruelty standpoint. But hey, whatever works! Maybe one day she will see that wearing fur is horric and well….it goes on and on.
I have a personal facebook page where I constantly share images and statistics relating to the horrors of this torture industry. So you can imagine how many friends I have lost just on my own quest to enlighten a handful of people who may not be aware of the truth on how their food gets to them, but more disturbingly, who really don’t care. As vegan activist I am classified in the same category of someone who is overzealous about religion and will use every waking breathe to share this enlightenment. So I guess you can call me a Born Again Vegan because the truth that I have found is worth sharing, not only to save the animals, your health and your spiritual awakening, but to save this planet for the future of all it’s inhabitants. You would be appalled to find out the harm this industry has on our planet. The best NON GRAPHIC documentary on the effects of the animal industry on out planet is Cowspiracy. I highly recommend it. It was a total eye-opener to the far reaching devastation this planet is facing if we do not change our ways. It will even answer the question of sustainable farming, if any of you have this consideration to add as a solution.
This is an aerial view of a factory farm and it’s surrounding terrain. It looks like a disease on the earth. This hazardous material (waste and by-products of dead animals) cannot be concentrated. it will inevitably seep into every crack and crevice the earth offers and the water system is global. So if you think the effects of a farm out in the mid-west USA some where is not making its way into your ground and the water supply. Think again.
🙁 My Career Choice Conundrum 🙁
Part of the torment I experienced each day when I owned my bakery, and even now that I have scaled back, no longer sell retail goods and only provide youtube tutorials on how to bake; is the thought of how many animals had to suffer just to supply these ingredients. When I owned my very small bakery (in comparison to the larger giants in bakery manufacturing) I was using hundreds of pounds of cream cheese, butter, milk and thousands of dozens of eggs.
Even now, that I have decided to go full vegan in my home, I am still not practicing it here at Gretchen’s Bakery, since my schooling, experience and training is with animal products as they pertain to baking. So I understand that I will get alot of criticism as a “fake vegan” or a hypocrite here, since I am not teaching vegan recipes (well at least not as my main topic). Sadly I understand the promotions I encourage in perpetuating the animal farming industry by continuing these recipes. I have a secret dream to have an ALL VEGAN BAKERY and grand portions of the profit would go to Animal Sanctuary Farm rescue!
What we all know about baking, is that you cannot simply remove ingredients and replace them with other ingredients and have the same result. Vegan baking has come so far in the last few years and I am slowly learning these new techniques. My intention is to have a good mix of vegan recipes here; as well as re-create all of my famous recipes into vegan versions.
This (like anything else that is going to last and be meaningful) is going to be a work in progress. Just as my transition to veganism spanned my entire life, this transition to baking vegan will also be a process. I have to learn these new ingredients and how they react inside my recipes. It is a whole new world of understanding the science of baking with completely new ingredients!
I have yet to try the Aquafaba in other recipes besides my Swiss Buttercream (which by the way- it works FABULOUSLY!!! Yes that’s right I said VEGAN SWISS BUTTERCREAM!
Veganism is a very touchy subject for the meat eating masses. I have been met with some very nasty criticisms for the way I choose to eat (and not eat). I have heard all the reasons why we “should” eat meat.
I have found an interesting phenomenon that occurs when non vegans are confronted with the vegan lifestyle.
A severe defense mechanism kicks in to defend their deep rooted (and obviously) subconscious emotion that indeed killing another life is not really something they WANT to be doing, but it just tastes so darned good! So naturally when confronted with facts that prove your habit to be: destructive at the very least, it is an automatic reflex to this conflict.
In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.
I am not here to spark a debate on whether or not we “should” be eating animals. I have heard it all before and I will NOT go into any of that here. This segment is reserved for those folks who support the Vegan lifestyle. Notice I did not say “DIET”.
Veganism is a lifestyle, it is a way of living your life that does not exploit animals in any way. This means no animal products either like eggs and milk, no leather, no fur, no down, not even palm oil since it is linked to major issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses in the countries where it is produced, as the land and forests must be cleared for the development land for “food” animals to be raised.
This large-scale deforestation is pushing many species to extinction, and findings show that if nothing changes many species will become extinct in the wild within the next 5-10 years.
So for me, this is more than a diet. It is a way of living my life without harming others. Do you want to know something? I~ who is nicknamed Mrs. Terrified of Spiders, can no longer bring myself to kill another one? One day I woke up and suddenly realized the value of life. I trap them in jars and let them outside.
Who am I to feel superior to another? The reason I am vegan is because I do not.
So, for all the hard core vegans out there, Am I a Hypocrite? Sure you can call me that. I agree I am that.
For what it is worth, I am completely Vegan at home in my cooking and eating, but for now on Gretchen’s Bakery I do use animal products as I continue on my quest to create awareness and change my own destructive habits.
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
Perhaps my chapter 3 portion of my life will be a complete switch to Vegan Baking in the future? Who knows? I can only start at the beginning and I am learning my way through this new territory. I will love it if you would join me as we walk through compassion together. Let’s do our part to be kind to all beings and maybe one person at a time the whole world will change.