Subscribe to this blog

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


My Sister: A Story About Veganism

Don’t worry, I’m not going to get all family album on you. Anyone who’s read more than one of these blogs knows I’m not like that. However, I will just note that despite the caustic tone I generally bestow upon most human beings, I do have some humans in my life for whom I care very deeply, and my sister is one of them.

She’s my younger sister, and the older we get, the more I realize that in so many ways we fall into the dynamics typical of older and younger siblings: namely, I’m controlling and she’s nice enough to humor my constant attempts to micro-manage her life. We have a closeness that’s lasted despite (or, in some ways, possibly because of) certain traumatic experiences we endured while growing up, and the older I get, the more I appreciate, and count upon, our bond (although of course I’m pretty inept when it comes to actually expressing this in our interactions).

I’m telling you a bit about her because, just like her ten-year-old daughter, she decided to adopt a plant-based diet this past New Year’s Eve after many years as a vegetarian-verging-on-vegan. She did this despite having possibly her worst year ever as an adult: she changed jobs and in the process lost quite a bit of income; her marriage of 20 years ended; and she moved from a neighborhood she adored to another one that she also loves, but that isn’t Manhattan. For those who embrace the “big three” of life (job, partner, and home), changing all three at once can be incredibly disorienting, even for people who’ve never faced the emotional challenges that childhood trauma can entrench in a person; and for someone who has lived through such experiences – well, I’ll just say that it was an extremely hard year indeed for my sister.

Yet she didn’t go vegan because she wanted to feel better about herself, to be more healthy, or any of those things (although she will, in fact, be healthier as a result). Instead, she went vegan because she knew it was the right thing to do. She knew, in her bones, that consuming eggs, milk, and other non-flesh animal products was the ethical equivalent of eating flesh, despite what myths the “happy milk” people want to sell – I mean tell – themselves. I’ll say it again: She knew it was the right thing to do. It’s as simple as that.

Yes, she loves cow cheese. She adores cow’s milk in her coffee. She loves the pretty baked goods sold in coffee shops on every corner on New York. (Me, I put so much sugar in my coffee that those things put my teeth on edge just to think about.) But loving those items is no longer, in her mind, a valid reason for her to consume them, given the enormous harm they cause. And so she made the decision, and she’s continuing to make the decision.

I’m not telling you these things just so everyone can say hey, way to go Miriam’s sister. I’m also not suggesting that vegans can simply educate everyone in our lives so word will spread and the world will change; if that was the case, the world would have already changed. (Although of course we do want to educate those in our lives who don’t already know the truth.)

What I am doing, however, is saying look, it’s possible. It’s possible to make the choice to be a more compassionate person, despite whatever crap is going on in your personal life. In fact, if we really think about it, it’s the crappy experiences that should make us more empathic toward others, not less as it so often goes. On a personal level, I’m really proud of my sister and happy she made this choice. On a less-personal level, I’m interested, as usual, in why so many people refuse to make this choice. It’s a no-brainer, so excruciatingly obvious I practically choke on the words: Eat a plant-based diet and you help yourself, the planet, and the animals whose bodies begin in torment and end in pain. It’s that simple.

So, no more excuses. A vegan diet is no more expensive than an animal-based diet. It’s been proven to be healthier in a million studies conducted all over the world. It will help to alleviate the consequences of global climate change, the single largest planetary disaster humans have ever had to confront. And of course, a plant-based diet minimizes the amount of actual pain and suffering that humans cause.

It all comes down to what kind of person you want to be: the ethical person will always choose the path that causes the least amount of harm to others, or the person who couldn’t care less. To all those like my sister, who have made the ethical choice to be vegan, I say thank you – not for me, as your choice means nothing to me personally, but on behalf of the animals whose lives you are saving. And to all those who continue to act like what you consume is your own damn business, I suggest you look a cow in her eyes while her throat is cut and she struggles to get off the hook she’s hanging on. No? Can’t do it? Then you shouldn’t be able to eat her flesh either.


6 comments to My Sister: A Story About Veganism

  • CQ
    Dear Miriam’s sister,

    I hope you are beaming, not blushing, as you read your big sister’s praises.

    Miriam calls the changes you’ve endured “the big three.” I can see why. It seems like these trials have led you to “the big one” — the big decision to respect the lives of each and every one of your billions of other sisters: cows and their calves, chickens and their chicks.

    If you’re anything like the rest of us ethical vegans, you feel spiritually stronger and sweeter, more peaceful and joyful, more compassionate and caring, and, importantly, FREE of the burden that comes with knowing deep down inside that you’ve not been doing as much good as you could.

    Many blessings to you and your daughter as you journey hand-in-hand — instead of knife-in-hand — with earth’s innocent creatures.

  • Christine
    I, too, am a “vegetarian-verging-on-vegan”.

    I’m trying to find a book to help me make that step, but there are so many out there.

    Can you or anybody recommend just one or two for helping to make that step, especially for people who live a crazy, fast-paced life, & find it hard to find any time to cook?


  • Jack McMillan
    Christine- You don’t need to find just the right cookbook out of the maze of them. In fact, I recommend no cookbook at all. Veganism is really about another kind of liberation- lib from cooking. My wife was, for 32 years, a fabulous vegan cook, had all the wonderful vegan cookbooks. I learned thru osmosis how also to be an excellent vegan cook, but she did most of it. When she died in 2010 and my life was torn asunder, cooking was the last thing I could, or wanted to, focus on. So I just liberated myself from it- don’t “cook” at all, and I eat just as healthily, perhaps more healthily, than before. I just throw together whatever I want- no recipe at all. Organic dense-type cereal with a banana sliced in, soymilk to the top, agave syrup dribbled over- what a breakfast! And about a third of daily protien needs right there. Dinner? Anything & everything. Be creative, throw things together. I’ll make a big hearty stew fit for a bodybuilder- Several cans of hearty organic soup (Muir Glenn Classic Minestrone, hearty vegetable, etc,), use that as a base and augment it from there- add cans of organic beans, add fresh or frozen vegatables, boil up some pasta shells and some basmati rice, add some of that, maybe add a veg bouillion cube or two, then to really make it nutritious, chop up some fresh green leafies & toss in. That’s just one thing to do- how about a big tall dagwood veggie sandwitch- slice up fav veggies- cukes, zucchini, y. squash, onions, tom’s, carrots, oh, don’t forget avacodo, anything, pile on slice of whear bread, douse with that amazing mayo clone- Veganaisse, salt & pepper, and just go for it. we don’t need complex culinary formulas to get great, pure food taste and all the nutrition we need…cookbooks are great, but that can seem like a daunting task when trying to make the transition. Try this way first, remain liberated, and then gradually add the fancy recipes if you want to. Good luck.
  • bravebird
    Hey Jack,

    I’m so sorry for your loss. And I hear you about the no need for cookbooks thing. Just follow your instincts about cooking in terms of spices, etc., and it will be just fine.

    However, Christine, if you really want a quick easy cookbook that’s full of EXCELLENT recipes, we recommend “Vegan a Go-Go” by Sarah Kramer. It’s amazing and a good place to start. :-)


  • Christine
    Thank you Jack & Miriam for the tips! :)
  • I echo the admiration and support to Miriam and her daughter. I know this decision will open up a world of abundance and peace as kindness is it’s own reward.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>