Sunday, April 30, 2017

Seeing Things Differently

It has been nearly a year since Joy and I made the decision to go vegan and she would agree that it is one of the best decisions we have ever made.  Nothing gives us greater joy than sitting down to a healthy meal knowing that no animals were harmed to nourish our bodies and satisfy our appetites.

Before going vegan we really didn't give much thought to how our choices affected animals. Besides the obvious consumption of animal products at mealtime, I often wore their leather on my feet or enjoyed the comfort of their fur and wool on a cold winter's day.  I lived for zoo outings and circuses because of my love for and curiosity with animals, never considering the abuse they might suffer behind the scenes.  I just didn't know.  Neither of us did.

Walking through the pet department at Walmart recently I happened to glance at the fish tanks on the back wall and noticed the beautiful colors of the tropical fish in them. Before going vegan I wouldn't have given them a second thought, yet I found myself sad and thinking that they belong in the ocean, not in a sterile, man-made habitat with no vegetation or natural environmental stimulation. The odds that these fish will eventually find their way to an aquarium are slim. Most will die in their confinement or be disposed of because no one chose to take them home. How is that fair, humane, or right?

I remember the very first trip Joy and I made to Virginia. On her spring break we made the long drive from Tennessee to visit Steve, who had moved here a few months before the end of the school year. We stopped at a rest area that backed up to a beautiful cow pasture where several adult cows and their babies were grazing. Joy wanted to go pet the cows that were near the fence. Recently, on our way home from Tennessee we stopped at a similar rest area, only this time we saw the cows a little differently than before. Though they looked peaceful and happy we knew from their ear tags that they are being raised as commodities to be sold at auction and eventually be slaughtered. The wonder we had felt on that first trip to Virginia was replaced with sorrow that their lives don't really matter -- they were born to die and will eventually suffer the same horrific fate as any factory-farmed livestock.

For us, being vegan is not just about eating a whole food plant-based diet in order to maximize our health, though that certainly is a great benefit. It is about so much more.  It is about preserving our environment and fighting for the rights of animals by not consuming them or spending our money in support of activities that result in their harm.  It is about doing all we can to educate others and encourage a more compassionate lifestyle for the good of all -- our fellow humans, our planet, and the animals who inhabit it with us.

Most people think they could never make the switch to a plant-based diet, giving up cheese, eggs, and the meats they have eaten their entire lives.  I totally get that. After all, I was raised on the standard American diet (SAD) myself, living a lifetime on hamburgers, grilled meat, turkey at Thanksgiving, and ham at Easter -- oh, and bacon with everything!  Then I met some four-legged friends and some two-legged humans who became my heroes and inspiration.  Pictured below are just a few of them.

Sweetheart and Joy

Ziggy Hartness and Dee Dee

All the animals at Ziggy's Refuge and founders Kristin Hartness and Jay Yontz
Joy and I are doing what we can, in our own small way, to raise awareness and to encourage others to think and choose differently when it comes to the foods we eat, the products we consume, and the clothes we wear.  If we can encourage you or help you in any way, please let us know.

Peace and compassion for all,

Dee Dee

Copyright 2016-2017 by Dee Dee Wike and Joy Wike. All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

An Easter Reflection

“He was oppressed and afflicted . . . led like a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7).

While reading my devotions this morning this verse jumped off the page as never before.  I've always known that Christ suffered horrific abuse and an even worse death when He was crucified for our sins. I've always heard Him identified as the Lamb of God.  But until this Easter, my first as a vegan, I've never quite caught the analogy of Him being "led like a lamb to the slaughter."

It has always been difficult for me to imagine how it must have felt, humanly-speaking, to be scourged, whipped, and beaten as Christ was. But having seen the abuse and atrocities that are heaped upon factory farmed animals before and during their slaughter to satisfy our fleshly cravings, it is not quite so hard to imagine the intense suffering of my Savior to pay the price for my sins.

No animal deserves to suffer and die for any man, yet the Son of God willingly went to the Cross, as a lamb to slaughter, to redeem all mankind from our sins.  This Easter I pray that we all will take into account the suffering and passion of our Savior and endeavor to live with compassion toward all His creatures, both human and non-human. I pray that those who have never received Christ's offer of salvation will open their hearts and enter into the most satisfying personal relationship they will ever know.

#helives #easter #beholdthelamb #compassionateliving #vegan

Copyright 2017 by Dee Dee Wike and Joy Wike. All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

What a Difference a Year Makes!

Joy and I just took our first vegan vacation. Thought I'd reflect on a few of the differences between this year's vacation and our similar vacation last year.

In 2016 Joy and I traveled to the Memphis area and then to Arkansas to visit family and friends and eat our fill of all our favorite foods from back home -- Corky's barbecue, southern-fried catfish, and our favorite Chinese and Mexican cuisine.  At the time we traveled we were omnivores and I was twenty pounds heavier than I am today.  During that vacation we discussed coming home and making every effort to "eat clean" by eliminating processed foods and meat from our diet -- AFTER we ate all our favorite foods!  During the ten days we traveled I gained four pounds.  On April 6, the day after we returned, we became vegetarians and six weeks later adopted a fully vegan lifestyle.

Fast forward to our vacation to the same destinations this year, from which we have just returned. Slimmer and determined to stay true to our convictions, we packed our own breakfast knowing that the hotels in which we stayed would have little to offer us from their complimentary breakfast menus. We still ate in restaurants and grabbed fast food along the way -- mostly vegan Subway and Taco Bell options -- but we grocery shopped upon our arrival in Arkansas and cooked three easy vegan dinner meals for my sister and mother, neither of whom are vegan.  Despite ten days of having little or no exercise, I managed to come back weighing the same as the day we left, simply because we ate whole and minimally processed plant-based foods.  Instead of dining in the same restaurants we did last year, we sought out restaurants that catered to vegetarian and vegan diners and were delightfully surprised by the quality and variety of food available to us.  Who knew that a portabello mushroom burger could be so satisfying, or that the vegan-friendly options at Olive Garden include their famously delicious breadsticks?

As plant-eaters we found that the long days of travel, though tiring, were not nearly as taxing because we ate light and had more energy.  We consumed less caffeine and rested better at night -- except for the one night we were booked into a hotel with a bunch of noisy rodeo participants -- and we drank lots of water along the way.  Did we feel deprived?  Not really.  Did we miss our traditional barbecue meal?  Nope.  We enjoyed a vegan version of a barbecue sandwich that more than adequately satisfied or craving for Memphis barbecue!

I can't think of a better way to celebrate our first year of healthy living than by road testing our lifestyle and showing others that being vegan is not as difficult as they might think. While my family may never fully adopt a plant-based lifestyle, at least they were able to sample some of what we eat routinely and see for themselves that as vegans Joy and I really haven't changed  We still enjoy delicious food.  We're still the same kooky, fun-loving gals we've always been.  We're just a little thinner and a whole lot healthier and happier!

For better health,

Dee Dee

Copyright 2016-2017 by Dee Dee Wike and Joy Wike. All rights reserved.