As I stumbled around from place to place these last few days trying to shake off a Thanksgiving-induced food coma brought about by my cousin Jody Burrage and her signature "What is in these and why can't I stop?" mashed potatoes, I realized the holidays are a terrible time for vegans.
I'm not really vegan, though. I just wish I were and sometimes I try to be. A vegan is someone who does not consume animal products. No meat, no cheese, no eggs, no milk. You could call me a "wannabe-gan" if you really, really wanted to.
At one point in my life, I was pretty good about it, and probably had a six-month-or-so stint in college where I hardly ate anything that came from or was a living creature. I felt pretty awesome most of the time, too.
However, I was never the type of vegan to jailbreak animals from the zoo or apologize to bugs that hit my windshield. I have compassion for living things, but I wear leather boots. I don't have any ethical conflicts with killing and eating animals, unless of course I have repressed those conflicts deep into my subconscious.
Good thing, too. Both sets of my grandparents are ranchers. Our family's prosperity has a lot to do with scores of now-departed cows.
I sought to eat only vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, roots, fungi and the like because I am apparently allergic to milk, habitually neglect nutrition in my daily life and was always told by my mother to "eat your vegetables."
Plus, vegan diets can potentially do a heck of a lot of good for a person. I am not a health expert and I can't tell you what is right for you, but a critter-free diet clearly boosted my energy and metabolism while providing me with sufficient protein and other nutrients commonly rumored to evade vegan grasp.
Now, that's not to say I couldn't reap benefits of eating more healthy foods while still consuming animal products. I don't want to step on anybody's toes, hooves, talons or paws here.
Alas, those glory days of mine are gone. My will is weak and my desire to put off friends, family and acquaintances by turning my nose up at their generous offerings of deliciousness has waned over time. Hand me that milkshake and may the devil have my nasal passages.
That's the true problem with a vegan lifestyle for me. Not everybody does it, not everybody knows about it and the implication of setting a different dietary standard for myself is that others feel I have passed judgment on them. But I never judge people out loud.
Still, if I could more effectively communicate my motivations and concerns then I could probably have my soy milk and whole-wheat flour carrot cake with no eggs and eat it, too. I imagine that I will one day unite my ideals and my reality.
But definitely not before Christmas dinner.
Russell Anglin is the senior reporter for the Quay County Sun. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org