November 28, 2009
An enormous, oblong Hubbard squash sits on a shelf in my dining room. I caress its pale green, lumpy shape whenever I pass by, admiring its smooth, cool skin and imagining vibrant, deep orange inside. I grew this squash in our little backyard this summer, and now it sits with other winter squash as a symbol of our vegetable bounty.
There is much to appreciate about veg life. Abundance, for example, the generous, exuberant effort of plants to produce an infinitely diverse cornucopia of fruits, roots, nuts, and seeds is just one thing to appreciate. I find this comforting, reassuring against the backdrop of bleak news or difficult days. The hefty girth of my Hubbard squash reminds me that there is enough.
I also like how little waste veg meals create. I read that food scraps comprise about 17 percent of what Americans send to landfills, but the few inedible bits of plants and most of any wasted portions of a veg meal can be composted. When my household went veg, we shifted from one 13-gallon bag of garbage each week, to no more than that every month. Veg life also motivated me to reduce my overall consumption by finding more value in what I already had, from table to closet.
Finally, there's the obvious reason to cherish a veg life--the simple fact that a veg life does not rely on the death or suffering of animals, that one can thrive, in fact, without eating animals. I still feel regret for the years I ate animals before awakening to a veg life. I mostly feel regret for how mindlessly I ate, how I never noticed how many meals contained meat, how I never thought about where the meat came from, nor the vegetables. Now, I am grateful for a thriving life sustained by the diverse and generous abundance of plants.