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Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society, Inc.
38 East Market Street, Rhinebeck, New York 12572 USA -  845-876-2626
Vegetarian - Vegan - Animal Rights - Health - Nutrition - Environment

The mission of the Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society, Inc. is to promote the vegetarian ethic in the Mid-Hudson (New York) region, educate the community and aid anyone in the pursuit of a totally vegetarian (vegan) cruelty-free and healthful lifestyle.

Fall 2003 Edition

Melanie's Vegetarian Journey

In the early 1970s, my younger sister who was living with my parents in Brussels, Belgium, visited a slaughterhouse while on a class outing. (This was not a "scheduled event," but they had some free time after a cultural event was cancelled and they happened to pass by the slaughterhouse). They were allowed to watch the slaughtering. (Today it is unlikely that such an invite would be extended since animal rights and welfare issues have hit the public consciousness.) At the time, I was living in Spain, and I remember her calling me to tell me how appalled she was and that she would never eat meat again. To this day she even remembers the terrified look in the eyes of a flock of sheep who were outside waiting to go in.

My family had always had pets. I remember when I was about 6 years old and my other sister came home carrying a puppy. She told us that some people were about to put the puppies in a sack and throw them against a wall. She said her friend had taken one of the puppies - and we ended up with "Maxie," who turned out to be the best dog anybody could ever want. But we still didn't make the connection between our beloved Maxie and the animals we ate for dinner.

For 14 years Maxie went everywhere with us - while living in Holland, Belgium and France. We took her on all our vacations too. Picture this: an early 60's VW Beetle with three kids in the back, camping gear on the roof, our father driving, and mother in the front passenger seat with Maxie sitting on a blanket on the floor by her feet. We always had pets when I was growing up, and later I started visiting the local shelters where I found some of the best "companion animals,". who at various times included, cats, rabbits and birds. Then one day in 1990 when I was living in Delaware County and had two dogs, I had just barbecued a steak ? and I looked at my dogs and the steak, and I couldn't eat it.

That was that ? no more meat. I had experienced a life-changing shift in perception.

Several years later, at my first Vegetarian Summerfest conference, I learned that it takes 10 pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese. I realized then that I had been consuming, in concentrated form, a substance I was telling other people "was destined for baby cows."

Surprisingly, it was not difficult at all to give up dairy products. But it is not an easy task to fight the powerful dairy industry: the calves are just a mere by-product of the milk industry. We want to stop impregnating the mothers so they can produce milk for human consumption.

If we don't have calves, we don't have milk, and we don't steal from the calves.

Since giving up dairy, my asthma went away, and the numerous allergies I was plagued with disappeared. Occasionally during allergy season I might have an irritating tickle in my throat when I go running in the morning, but when I was eating dairy products I couldn't even go outside without loading up on allergy medications.

I also have more energy since I have become a vegan. In fact, about two years ago I walked "the Camino" in Northern Spain; a 500-mile walk which I completed in 27 days. I had a lot more energy than most of the people who had to deal with digesting animal products laden with fat (and who knows what else). I happily explained to others how I live on fruits, vegetables, nut, grains - and when eating in restaurants, "ensalada mixta". Very often this is the only vegan item on the menu. Needless to say, after the completion of my walk I had almost eaten enough ensaladas mixtas to last a lifetime.

Melanie Carpenter, Saugerties, NY

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