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An Inconvenient Appetite

Last month, the City of Fargo dropped off a blue mammoth recycling bin on my curb. It was a welcoming sight. When I heard rumblings within the community about the bins taking up too much space in their garages and complaints about the inconvenience of having to recycle, I almost fell off my bike into oncoming traffic.

I admit that I too, at times, have been annoyed with the little inconveniences of trying to clean up the planet. The low-flow showerhead my husband recently installed has left me shivering more than once, and the high-efficiency lighting makes my living room look drab instead of warm and comforting. But I’ve adjusted. Our efforts to be more earth-friendly make us feel like we’re doing something to help instead of harm our planet.

My husband and I also do something else, something much more radical than just turning off the lights and unplugging from the grid. We eat plants–a lifestyle that has reduced our carbon footprint far more than all of our other efforts combined.

“No longer is eating a plant-based diet just for hippies and health nuts.”

I realize my quinoa-and-avocado-toast-eating lifestyle is martian in comparison to the Fargo of the ’80s in which I grew up. It was a Fargo where anything south of 32nd Avenue was considered “the country” and seemed like a good place to drive the gravel roads and smoke out of a pop can. Back then, Fargo was… Fargo.

Today, we are urbanites. We are the most liberal city in North Dakota, where more juice-drinking, plant-eating individuals now reside than ever before. My wish has come true. Ten years ago when I would speak to audiences about health and weight loss, the words “plant-based” or “vegetarian” were gasp-worthy. Eyes would roll, whispers were exchanged and seats were abandoned. I didn’t dare say the word “vegan” or I would have been booed off the stage firing range-style in a hail of tomatoes.

Today, Fargo is waking up.

We have more options for meatless meals than ever before, in the grocery stores and in the hundreds of restaurants of this town. We have vegan cafes, juice bars, farmers markets and co-ops. Farm-fresh eggs are prevalent, vegetarian options are more abundant and we have little green leaves on menus showing us meatless dishes. There’s a signal of the rise in consciousness of big corporations who are listening to the demands of the public. The world is waking up.

  • The number of plant-only eaters in the U.K. has risen 350 percent over the past 10 years. Forty-two percent of those are between the ages of 15 and 34.

  • In 2016, Google trends data revealed a 90 percent increase in vegan searches.

  • Eating plants is currently the No. 1 food trend beating out paleo and gluten-free diets for the top spot.

  • “According to the EPA, the livestock sector is one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide pollution, and the single largest source of both methane and nitrous oxide. According to the world bank, animal agriculture is responsible for nearly 90 percent of Amazon rainforest destruction.”*

There is a movement all over the world and people are realizing that the consumption of animals, our health and the health of the environment are intrinsically linked.

I have said for years, “come and live with me, I will cook for you and you will never miss eating meat.” And that if they did, it would only be for a reason that stems from ego or a deep-rooted notion that if we don’t eat meat we will wither and die, only to be buried in a protein-starved grave.

When I met my husband, he was a meat eater. I always wondered what would happen if I fell in love with a meat eater. How would we raise our kids? Would I be okay with bacon being cooked in my kitchen–in my virgin frying pan that has never experienced anything other than stir fry or the occasional cage-free egg?

Two things happened:

  1. I chose the right man, or rather, he chose me. Either way, my genius boyfriend was already aware of how his choices (food and otherwise) impacted the planet. He was on board to change. Perhaps he had been waiting for a good reason to make those inconvenient changes all along and I was just the kick in the butt he needed.

  2. My assumption of “let me cook for you and you’ll never miss meat” was accurate. That’s exactly what happened.

Seven years later, I don’t have to cook for him in order for him to not eat meat. He is a completely self-sufficient plant eater and together we raise our kids that way as well. It’s been 15 years since I’ve stopped eating animals and seven years for my husband.

No longer is eating a plant-based diet just for hippies and health nuts. Now, it’s just a smart way to live that can help decrease our ecological footprint and promote great health.

It’s not a trend, folks, it’s a revolution.

Originally published in Fargo Monthly Sept 2017

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