When people find out I am vegan, they often ask me why. I don’t mind this question, in fact I welcome it. I appreciate other’s curiosity and take the opportunity to answer questions or dispel myths. However, my reasons for being vegan are vast and difficult to describe in a quick answer. So, I end up summarizing it by saying, “It’s just the only thing that makes sense to me.” Why is this? Well, here are just a few reasons why I live my life the way that I do.
For my health…
I’ll admit that when I began on this journey, it was for selfish reasons. I wanted to improve my health, which I did. I dropped 10 pounds (although this was not my focus), felt better, had more energy and almost never get sick. Eating animal products is at the root of many of the cases of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity and so many more! The high saturated fat and cholesterol content in animal products is clogging the arteries of Americans everywhere. Also, when this meat is cooked, carcinogenic compounds form. Most Americans eat more than 1.5 times the average daily requirement of meat. We have become so conditioned to eat a diet full of animal products that we neglect the fruits and vegetables and end up eating ourselves into an early grave. By basing my diet on whole, plant sources, I can be sure that my body is getting all the nutrients it needs. Properly fueling the body is essential to living a healthy, happy life.
For the environment…
Environmental impacts of eating meat are lesser known than the health impacts. This was one of the last topics that I learned about and once I did, it was the deciding factor for me that I wanted to change what I was doing. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, uses half of the fresh water in the US, is responsible for 80% of amazon rainforest destruction and is a leading cause of climate change through the enormous amounts of greenhouse gasses that they emit. Land is not the only thing we are destroying, our oceans are in peril too. At the current rate we’re fishing, we will have depleted oceans by 2050. Our planet simply cannot sustain the type of life we are living and the diet that we are eating. I love spending time outdoors and to me nature is therapeutic. The thought of my young niece and nephew not being able to enjoy the same natural beauty simply is not acceptable to me, and I will fight until my last breath to spread awareness and do what I can to improve the state of our planet.
For the animals….
If you would have told me 15 years ago that I would be an animal activist, I would never have believed you. While I’ve always loved animals and had pets growing up, I never made the connection between my pets and my food. When I began to learn the appalling factory farming practices, a shift began to happen. I did (a lot!) more research, read some books, visited an animal sanctuary and after that decided that I could no longer eat animal products. No matter what religion you choose to follow, one thing that remains constant is the concept of “do unto others as you would want done to you.” Keeping that in mind, how could you possibly participate in an industry that breeds, mutilates and slaughters living beings without giving it a second thought. These animals are looked at as mere commodities, reduced to a numbered tag or dollar amount. However, they are not commodities, they are living, sentient beings and they have a right to life just like we do. These animals have an intrinsic purpose on this earth, one of which does not include being my dinner.
For my spirit…
We’ve all heard the phrase “you are what you eat” and this is true, on both a physical and spiritual level. Biologically, your body uses the food you eat as building blocks for new cells, so on that level the food you eat literally becomes you. The spiritual impact of eating animals however can be more difficult to measure. When you consume an animal, you are consuming all that they are, both physically and emotionally. Everything on this Earth is energy, including thoughts, feelings and emotions. Eating the flesh of an animal who didn’t want to die exposes you to all the sickness, fear, stress and death that animal experienced. While I never noticed it throughout my entire omnivorous life, once I stopped eating animals, I could feel a shift begin to take place. My mind felt sharper, my intuition stronger and I had a deeper connection to myself and to a force much larger than myself.
What began as a simple health decision ended up changing the course of my entire life. My research and experience has helped shape me into a more empathetic and compassionate person. Through my volunteer work, cooking classes and the very way I live my life, I hope to lead others to a path of compassion as well.