“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Monday, January 17, 2011

This Vegan Thing Is Going Quite Well

The rather surprising amount of bad cholesterol in me inspired me to see what would happen if I cut it. Being a huge cheese fan and Trader Joe's just having opened near me, with its utopically cheap Stilton (always a bit of a Brit, you know), I kind of upped the ante on that before the holidays. And being a huge cheese fan I've never gone all the way before. So here are my conclusions after about three weeks:

1) The unpleasant hypocrisy of eating animals has gone.
2) I feel “lighter”—groan, that's what they all say isn't it?
3) There is some kind of reward response in your dopamine to eating things with cholesterol. Once you've kicked that the vegan thing is very pleasant—in a different, less rapidly cycling way.

3) Isn't surprising given that your cell walls use cholesterol. I imagine that humans have developed all those savory, salty cover-ups for cholesterol like mold on Stilton as a way to make it even more palatable. After you eat it, your body for sure says “Hey, well done! You did something right!”

I ate a small cube of cheese early on in this process and the absence of cholesterol in my diet made the taste of a liquid cloud of fat palpable—for the first time in my life, that wasn't nice.


captain furious said...

Congrats Tim! I've been a vegan for years, feel great and, of course, don't have that whole feeling bad about eating animals thing. I have to admit I was puzzled, years ago, when you were at my university giving a talk and said you were not a vegetarian. Not that people who write on this cannot be but it is a bit weird. Truth be told I was working on an essay recently that mentioned your work as an example of eco-work and animal-thinking that is not pro-vegan. So this is interesting news to me.

Annabel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Annabel said...

Awesome news, Tim! I've been vegan for a year now and have found it a truly empowering decision. If you ever need any tips or resources, I've got a few blog posts written especially for transitioning/new vegans.
Hope you have a great semester!

Timothy Morton said...

Captain and Feed Me, I'm touched by your comments. It's interesting that you both put it in terms of congratulations. There is something interesting there I'd like to think about--in part it does feel like kicking some kind of habit.

Annabel said...

Please keep us posted on your journey (it really does feel like a journey). I'd love to hear your thoughts on everything!

captain furious said...

That's true on the "congratulations" framing. I thought about that while I was writing it but went ahead anyway. On one hand, of course, as someone who finds ingesting animals to be a strange, violent act, it is something one should be congratulated on quitting. (But...do we congratulate people for stopping acts we find violent? Also weird). On the other, as someone who sees a vegan lifestyle as beneficial to not just myself but to others as well (environmentally, economically, culturally, etc) saying "congrats" makes a kind of sense. I do see your point and it centers, in part, on the question of "what does it mean to be vegan?" Or "What does it accomplish to adhere to this diet?" All things problematized by Derrida (among others) in his "Eating Well" essay. Cary Wolfe, obviously, has written quite a lot about this. And I am trying to write about it. Very difficult terrain. "Congratulation," also, I think, begins to verge into making veganism a kind of identity politics. Dangerous ground.