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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.

Winter Issue - 2003-2004

My Vegetarian Journey
by Judi Gelardi

I can remember when I was a young child feeling very uneasy and uncomfortable eating meat, especially chicken, which seemed to resemble "myself." (I guess I had quite an imagination.)

My parents finally decided it was hopeless to try to convince me otherwise and I entered adolescence as a vegetarian. Being Italian probably made it a little easier for me than most people. There was always plenty of pasta, vegetables, hearty soups, bean dishes, salads and cheeses. And of course, every Friday was "fish" day.

At that time, fish and dairy were OK to eat; I hadn't made the connection. I thought dairy, cheese and eggs were the "natural" products of healthy farm animals. I never knew (maybe I didn't want to know) of the suffering endured by these animals, forced to produce unnaturally for our consumption.

Slowly, reality set in. I would never think of eating veal, which comes from baby animals confined in crates, barely able to move and never seeing the light of day, and yet I never gave a second thought to drinking milk and eating cheese. I hadn't made the connection.

At a Meat-Out, the bulb finally lit: I became aware that these animals are being treated like nothing more than disposable creatures spending their lives purely for our sake. All of a sudden, I couldn't walk in leather shoes, drink or eat dairy products or enjoy eggs from the supermarket.

Now my journey had changed - it had become a journey from vegetarianism to veganism. It hasn't been easy; as much as my family tried, it was (and still is) difficult for them to forgo cheese & eggs. But we're working on it.

Every week we find a new soy product that helps with the transition. We've all stopped using leather products (we never used fur) and now I try to read all the ingredients on every label; some dairy products are not as easy to notice as others. And 2003 was the first year we enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with other like-minded people.

We didn't have to sit across the table and watch as others celebrated eating "the bird."

My journey hasn't ended; I've still got a long way to go. But I do admit I have a much stronger sense of respect for every animal. And I don't apologize for not eating meat and dairy any more. Most important, we all feel healthier, physically and spiritually.

Return to Winter Issue - 2003-2004

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