I often get asked this question by strangers, friends, family and acquaintances. The question goes something like: “Why vegan?”, “How come you don’t eat meat?”, “Why give up cheese?” or “What’s wrong with bacon?”. So here it is folks, my first attempt at publicly and thoroughly answering this question “Why I Live a Plant-Based Lifestyle”
I could simplify it into three points:
- Compassion for animals
- Compassion for my health
- Compassion for the Earth
I started to feel the lopsidedness of my life when I was adoring my pets on a daily basis while at the same time I was serving animal for dinner. What is the difference between a pig and a dog? A pig is said to have the understanding of a 3-year old human. They know what is happening when they are taken for slaughter. The fear and adrenaline is pumped into the very meat that sits on the end of that fork. We are essentially eating their fear, their confusion and adrenaline. I came upon the idea of my stomach being a graveyard and I couldn’t stand it any longer. It didn’t feel right. I started studying the conditions in which these “livestock” animals live and die. They are horrendous, appalling, disease-ridden, and depressing places filled with disdain and darkness. If you’d like a great book recommendation it’s Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer’s. Then I did some research on whether or not we as humans need meat to survive and thrive. The simple answer: no. This isn’t the post where I argue whether humans are frugivores, herbivores or omnivores. Maybe later, but not now. Also, this is not the “protein” post. If you are eager to find that out before I prepare my spiel about it, check google for “plant-based protein” (psst! The answer is all plants!) This is where I insert this link. That video always brings a smile and a tear, so much joy.
My personal journey started with giving up dairy for health reasons. It proved so beneficial I decided to stick with it and after a few minor “slip-ups” I haven’t had dairy or cheese since. This was in fall of 2011. In the spring of 2013, I found myself feeling compelled to quit eating meat. About the same time I had some neighbors who were going to “go vegan” for the lent season. I also had met my second vegan friend and was thinking “Hey, this is possible, I could do this!”. I convinced my partner to try it with me (if only for a month), this was SO helpful and I am blessed that he was willing to try it and support me. At the end of that month I felt great and more confident than ever about taking the plunge into veganism. I had already ditched milk and cheese (which is what many struggle with the most) and had just gone a month without eggs and meat. My digestion was improving, my energy level was up and I had peace in my heart. I did not anticipate the last part. I decided to not look back and to continue living a plant-based lifestyle. Since then I have come upon more compassion than ever before in my life. I kid you not, I believe that aligning my plate with my beliefs about animal-rights, specie-ism, and health has given me peace and compassion that I couldn’t imagine.
My health improved all around. Thankfully there is much information and research being done that supports plant-based living. Eating plants and turning away from animal products can lower risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and obesity. If you care what the American Dietetic Association says: “… appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and many provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, as well as for athletes.” According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC): In 2010, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. This is an obvious problem that should no longer be neglected and it’s up to all of us to make a change starting with ourselves and our own plate.
I fancy myself a lover of all things Earth. It’s beautiful, we depend on it and it gives us life. In turn I’d like to do my best to protect her and give back. She can take care of herself for the most part, but I would not like to be apart of her destruction. A United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report released in 2006 revealed that animal agriculture causes more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s transportation combined. Also, it takes 8 times as much fossil fuel to produce animal protein as it does to produce plant protein. Another excellent fact that I’d like to point out, it takes less water to produce one year’s worth of food for a completely plant-based diet, than to produce one month’s worth of food for a diet with animal products. What I buy at the market has a higher impact on the planet than what or how I drive.
Food is such a vital part of our lives. We eat multiple times every day (if we’re blessed enough). Food gives us energy, strength, enjoyment and life. What we put in our grocery carts and kitchens has more of an impact than we first think. Our daily choices truly have the power to change the world. By making the decision to live life without consuming animal flesh or secretions, one could make a positive and compassionate impact on their world, their health and the lives of others. In the words of In Defense of Animals- “Veganism is about celebrating life by taking care of your health and the health of the planet, and by protecting the lives of animals that share our world.”
If you have any questions for me about my plant-based transition or journey, or if you are wondering about this lifestyle and have a question about veganism/vegetarianism leave a comment below. I want to know what you think!
Also, keep checking back as I am planning to add a page that includes my recommendations for books, cookbooks, films/documentaries.
Thanks for stopping by, have a wonderful day!