By Published On: 30 June 2015648 words3.2 min read

By Daria Zeoli, Guest Contributor

It is easy to forget the parts of you that you’ve shed. Let me tell you about how I was recently reminded of this.

I’ve been blogging since the fall of 2001, in some form or another. Most of the past fourteen years of posts have made their way into the ether, but thanks to the Wayback Machine, it’s not so hard to find your own past, at least, if you remember your old domain names. And the next logical step is to lecture the teens and twentysomethings of today – “Back in my day, we didn’t have Twitter! We didn’t have Instagram! We coded our own blogs! We wrote more than 140 characters! We walked five miles to school in blizzard conditions without snowboots!”

But I digress.

I’ve been surfing the archives of my life – shaking my head at a lot of silly posts, reacquainting myself with the fact that once, I live blogged episodes of American Idol, and my loyalty to Clay Aiken knew no bounds. (He was robbed in Season Two, I tell you!)

I am telling you this because my Clay loyalty is part of the me I used to be. And so is the person who ate animals. Those two parts came together in a really embarrassing post I wrote twelve years ago, slamming PeTA. Oh, I’m not embarrassed about slamming PeTA: I still don’t agree with a lot of what they do. But I’m truly stunned at a statement that I wrote at the time:

“I would never intentionally hurt an animal – yes I eat meat, shut up.”

It’s not an extraordinary statement. In fact, it’s likely you’ve heard someone say similar to you recently. It’s not even entirely false. Most people who eat or otherwise use animals don’t directly hurt them. It’s part of the reason it’s so easy for the majority of us to be indoctrinated into the system. How many of us would harm or kill an animal ourselves if there was no one to do the “processing” for us?

Even knowing this much, I couldn’t shake that feeling of embarrassment when I read the words that came out of my mouth. Was that really me? Did I say that? It was a moment of omnivore amnesia – of struggling to remember not being vegan.

It’s been a couple of weeks, and I’d venture to say that embarrassment isn’t necessary in moments like this. For many reasons, I didn’t know any better. I say this not to excuse the “me” I used to be, but to understand her better. The vegan world has changed so much in the nearly six years since I became a part of it; double that time and unless you knew where to look, that world didn’t cross with the one I was living in at the time very much.

Even now, it’s important to remember that my experience is different than a non-vegan’s: I am immersed in the vegan media – reading news articles, watching films, listening to podcasts, writing articles and eating food that a majority of people have no idea exists. The “me” I used to be had never heard of Mercy for Animals or Farm Sanctuary. Beyoncé was certainly not touting the benefits of a plant-based diet plan.

Our stories are important – there are lessons to be learned from them and even a passing statement can be a teaching moment. I wish I had blogged or journaled more throughout my life – even if it meant countless passages that would induce headshakes and exasperated sighs. We all come from somewhere, and we all have the opportunity to grow.

The “me” I used to be has grown into someone I couldn’t have imagined when I was twenty-four years old. The “me” I am now has a lot more growing to do.

Photo: Kevin Harber

By Published On: 30 June 2015648 words3.2 min read

By Daria Zeoli, Guest Contributor

It is easy to forget the parts of you that you’ve shed. Let me tell you about how I was recently reminded of this.

I’ve been blogging since the fall of 2001, in some form or another. Most of the past fourteen years of posts have made their way into the ether, but thanks to the Wayback Machine, it’s not so hard to find your own past, at least, if you remember your old domain names. And the next logical step is to lecture the teens and twentysomethings of today – “Back in my day, we didn’t have Twitter! We didn’t have Instagram! We coded our own blogs! We wrote more than 140 characters! We walked five miles to school in blizzard conditions without snowboots!”

But I digress.

I’ve been surfing the archives of my life – shaking my head at a lot of silly posts, reacquainting myself with the fact that once, I live blogged episodes of American Idol, and my loyalty to Clay Aiken knew no bounds. (He was robbed in Season Two, I tell you!)

I am telling you this because my Clay loyalty is part of the me I used to be. And so is the person who ate animals. Those two parts came together in a really embarrassing post I wrote twelve years ago, slamming PeTA. Oh, I’m not embarrassed about slamming PeTA: I still don’t agree with a lot of what they do. But I’m truly stunned at a statement that I wrote at the time:

“I would never intentionally hurt an animal – yes I eat meat, shut up.”

It’s not an extraordinary statement. In fact, it’s likely you’ve heard someone say similar to you recently. It’s not even entirely false. Most people who eat or otherwise use animals don’t directly hurt them. It’s part of the reason it’s so easy for the majority of us to be indoctrinated into the system. How many of us would harm or kill an animal ourselves if there was no one to do the “processing” for us?

Even knowing this much, I couldn’t shake that feeling of embarrassment when I read the words that came out of my mouth. Was that really me? Did I say that? It was a moment of omnivore amnesia – of struggling to remember not being vegan.

It’s been a couple of weeks, and I’d venture to say that embarrassment isn’t necessary in moments like this. For many reasons, I didn’t know any better. I say this not to excuse the “me” I used to be, but to understand her better. The vegan world has changed so much in the nearly six years since I became a part of it; double that time and unless you knew where to look, that world didn’t cross with the one I was living in at the time very much.

Even now, it’s important to remember that my experience is different than a non-vegan’s: I am immersed in the vegan media – reading news articles, watching films, listening to podcasts, writing articles and eating food that a majority of people have no idea exists. The “me” I used to be had never heard of Mercy for Animals or Farm Sanctuary. Beyoncé was certainly not touting the benefits of a plant-based diet plan.

Our stories are important – there are lessons to be learned from them and even a passing statement can be a teaching moment. I wish I had blogged or journaled more throughout my life – even if it meant countless passages that would induce headshakes and exasperated sighs. We all come from somewhere, and we all have the opportunity to grow.

The “me” I used to be has grown into someone I couldn’t have imagined when I was twenty-four years old. The “me” I am now has a lot more growing to do.

Photo: Kevin Harber

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  1. Tommy F June 30, 2015 at 5:10 pm - Reply

    As usual.. very interesting perspective Daria. I love your posts. Being Vegan for over a couple of years now, it’s definitely difficult to re-enter my previous mind as an omnivore. I think I was just “asleep” for all those years. Our over-processed, animal product society is just too convenient for most people to give a damn. When us Vegans come along touting the health benefits of a plant-based vegan diet and shine much needed light on the animal suffering occurring, I find that we’re in such the minority, that our pleads to the world to also “wake up”, are hushed, silenced, ignored, and outright battled against, to protect and maintain the status quo. How dare we come along and disrupt, criticize and bring into question, such a convenient system where Big Ag is societies’ assigned hit-man on the animal community.

    It’s like you’re taking something away from them and they don’t like it. (Kinda like 2nd amendment die-hards that don’t want their guns taken from them.) Yet they find themselves consumed by grief, when a loved one dies from cancer or heart disease, and want to FIGHT these diseases, instead of taking action to move their diets to more plant based. They become infuriated with us Vegans for having the gull to hint, suggest or insinuate that there may very well be a connection between eating dead animal products and the human bodies’ premature death of itself.

    I guess at the heart of what I really find troubling, is how combative people get when you raise the flag for animal compassion. When I was an omnivore, I just can’t recall ever getting ticked-off by a vegan and becoming combative. If I’d have come across someone vocalizing the connection between animal cruelty and what we eat, then I believe I would’ve dropped my cheeseburger right out of my hands and tried to make a change. Unfortunately, what took me so long to wake-up, is I don’t think I ever actually met a Vegan, until I became one and looked myself in the mirror. There just hadn’t been enough consciousness on the subject.. or I just wasn’t listening.. or both. I had a misconstrued impression on Vegans as being a goofy strange lot, that were okay being frail hippies, disconnected from “normal society”, while all the meat-eaters were pumping iron and living life to the fullest. COMPLETE MISPERCEPTION!
    So that’s why I’m vocal in my arena of influence. If there’s an ear, I try to package and re-package the message as best I feel will resonate with the mind connected to those ears. And it sure ain’t easy! I’ve turned several friends away.. oh well. But it’s got to be done. We’ve all got to have the courage to put our egos and complicit comfort aside and get the message out. Veganism is definitely on-the-rise. The message is slipping it’s way into the cracks of people’s consciousness. So there is hope. Just need to keep the momentum going.
    -Namaste

    • Daria Zeoli July 5, 2015 at 6:31 am - Reply

      Thanks for this comment, Tommy. There’s a lot there that I can only nod my head at in understanding. As to your point about combative people, I think it’s easier to be combative about something if you see the kernel of truth in it. Someone who eats animals probably knows on some level – and must know if they know a vegan – that there is something inherently wrong with the system. But to accept that is to change everything, and humans don’t like change – I know, I’m one of them. It’s easier to fight change than to actually change!

      (Aside: how many times is too many to use the word “change” in one paragraph?)

      It’s easier to stay asleep – to honor tradition – to go to barbecues and put a burger on the grill than it is to think about what that burger was, and what that tradition means. Just as the 12 year’s gone version of me fought the fact that eating animals was hurting them, over ninety percent of people have to fight the possibility that change is needed.

      It’s pre-coffee. I don’t know if I’m making sense. So I’ll end here and again, thank you for reading and for discussing. I really appreciate it!