Vegetarian or vegan?

After I became the owner of two weiner dogs, Peanut and Mango, my view of animals completely changed.  Instead of seeing a steak or hot dog as something to fill the emptiness in my stomach, I saw the face of an innocent cow or pig.  I couldn’t shake the feeling of guilt and empathisized with the pain and suffering this poor animal went through, just to be my meal.  I stopped eating all meat in 2002 and feel good about not supporting an industry that has no consideration for the well-being of these animals.  Not to mention, that not eating meat decreases my carbon footprint.

Being a vegetarian has been relatively easy, especially once we moved from Nebraska to Portland, Oregon.  There are many more options for non-meat eaters now in grocery stores and restaurants and foods like lentils, beans and quinoa are great sources of protein.  Yet, at the end of last year (2010) I read a book, The Face on Your Plate, that forced me to confront what I have been avoiding all along by being just a vegetarian.  

I never realized the horrific conditions dairy cows and egg-laying chickens are kept in.  Living in cramped enclosures, they also suffer from frequent infections, broken bones and just the lack of freedom to be cows or chickens.  I vowed to become a vegan by 2011 and slowly stopped buying all dairy (ice cream, cheese, butter) and eggs.  Being a vegan at home was fairly easy, although I’ll admit, soy cheese on pizza or nachos just wasn’t the same.  But going out to eat was a different story.  I didn’t want to be one of those people that questioned the server about every ingredient in the dish, so I allowed myself some slack and was okay with eating something that may have had butter, cream or eggs in it.

Fast forward to 2011 and I have talked myself out of veganism and into buying eggs from the owners of happy hens and trying to find local sources of raw goat’s milk for little Lairdy.  I have found the eggs in Salem, where, I am told by the owner, they are laid by happy hens, who are confined to a fairly large fenced area.  I am still trying to find consistent sources of goat’s milk however.  So if anyone knows of anywhere in Portland, please let me know.

My goal is to eventually raise my own chickens for eggs and goats for milk and because they are fun animals to have as pets and I think Laird would love it.

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