Tuesday, November 15, 2005

transitions

I've been thinking a lot lately about how I call myself vegan even though I eat cheese on a fairly regular basis, and I've decided that I should really stop that. It's like being one of those people who call themselves vegetarian and then qualify that they eat chicken and fish. (This is all kind of interesting to me in terms of resistance of labels, incidentally, because I seem to feel really strongly about the use and misuse of these particular labels whereas a lot of other labels I tend to debate a lot more or try to reject altogether. Why is that?) So, at least for the time being, I'm going to make an effort to just say I'm vegetarian and try to make my peace with that. I'm sad that I'm making this particular transition, because I feel like it is somehow indicative of just how much my self-control has dipped. I know part of the reason why I've been resisting this is because I feel like I'm a quitter or something, but mostly I just know that I had good reasons for being vegan in the first place and stopping means that I'm admitting that those reasons aren't as important to me as my desire to eat cheese. But lately it's like I can't even control the cheese desire (erica may have witnessed this last year when I was there and I was reduced to uncontrollably eating Brie from their fridge) and I feel like I just can't deal with this anymore so I'm trying to let the guilt go a little bit and see if that can work. Somebody told me once that cheese is actually somewhat addictive (something about chemicals or something, I don't know) and I totally believe it. Anyway, this post has gone on long enough, so there you go. Perhaps later I'll go back, after I get my cheese addiction under control.

6 comments:

erica said...

yeah, it's casine...patty says it has the same chemical makeup as morphine, and it's what keeps calves coming back to their mothers to nurse, since i guess they'd otherwise wander off into the field and die. so, in effect, it prevents cheese-eaters from wandering off into the field...
and about the label thing-it's an interesting discussion, and i'm thinking about patty again--her dissertation was on how identities are formed around eating habits, and i don't know what she said about this, but in this way it seems like adhering to strict labels could potentially be just as "problematic" as those relating to sexuality, race, etc. calling yourself vegetarian doesn't stop you from not eating cheese when you don't feel like it.

ammie said...

Oh, I didn't know it was casein. They even put that in soy cheese, those assholes :-)
I agree with you on the label thing, and I'm currently trying to sort out why it's so hard for me to give up this stupid word that doesn't even describe me and, frankly, hasn't in about 2 years if you want to get technical. It's not like changing what I tell people makes any difference in what I actually eat every day. I think part of me is nervous that just admitting the cheese addiction will lead to other things (like if cheese was a gateway drug, leading me toward harder dairy products...). But I know that's silly. I'm still thinking about this, trying to unravel my personal investment in this label.

PocaCosa said...

I tried to be vegan once and it lasted less than 24 hours, because of one single thing: cheese. I'm glad to know that it's not just my weak will but actually some chemical makeup. Lovely.

I've also been going through this labeling issue but on the other end of it: I need to stop calling myself a vegetarian, because if someone serves me meat without knowing I'm a vegetarian then I'll usually eat it (unless it's a steak or a turkey leg or something obviously mammalian). So I guess politeness and laziness (e.g., a restaurant) overrule my ethics. It's sad, but I need to stop trying to deny that it's true. I've been in denial because Jefferson really *is* a vegetarian and it's just so much easier to say "we're vegetarians" and hide my real actions behind a collective identity.

Anyway, thanks for the discussion!

PocaCosa said...

Umm, it just occurred to me that turkeys aren't mammals. Well, you get my gist. ;)

erica said...

yeah, watch out for those gateway drugs, ammie. next thing you know, you'll be shooting milk into your veins, and then it's all over ;)

ammie said...

Thanks for the warning, Erica :-) I think restaurants are the single greatest thing that stands in the way of me being effectively vegan. I'm so goddamn overworked and hungry and tired all the time that given the choice between one of the veggie options that's slathered in cheese and a house salad, I always choose the cheesy thing.