It’s been exactly one month since I turned vegan so I wanted to record my experience thus far. Where do I start? Maybe I should talk about why I decided to turn vegan. It didn’t happen overnight. Back in August, I had heard about a movie with a hashtag called #unitythemovement. I heard that Casey Affleck was one of the narrators and I LOVE Casey so I really wanted to go watch it, not knowing exactly what I would be watching. I didn’t care as long as Casey was a part of it. As someone who has always rooted for the underdog, I loved Casey while everyone else loved Ben.
“Unity” wasn’t a movie, I soon discovered. About 5 minutes into the film, I realized this was a documentary about human rights uniting with animal rights. About humans finding their compassion and finding out that there is a more peaceful way of living than we all know. They talked about history and all the wars the world has suffered through, all the deaths that occurred and questioned why after all these years of living, we still cannot get along and resort to war. The part that stuck with me the most was the footage of animals who were suffering and living a “life” for human consumption. The film was 99 minutes long. While there was only 12 minutes total of animal footage, those are the parts that stuck with me the most. They made me uncomfortable and since I was in a movie theater rather than sitting in front of a TV, I couldn’t change the channel. I had to sit there and watch the horror unfold before my eyes. That’s when I decided to go vegetarian. I still consumed dairy and eggs so it wasn’t that bad. Surprisingly, I found vegetarianism quite simple and I didn’t think I needed to go vegan. Besides, I would probably have fallen off the wagon anyway.
After 3 weeks of going vegetarian, I started researching more about dairy and egg factories. I started reading about how the dairy industry really works and I started to question why DO we drink the milk of another species that is meant for baby calves? The answer is that growing up, it was ingrained upon us that we need milk to build strong healthy bones and teeth, to stay healthy and to get tall. Slowly, I started to utilize what I learned in my Critical Thinking class in college. Exactly who is feeding me this information? The dairy industry of course. People who make money off of dairy are the same people telling us we need milk to be healthy. And the people telling us why we don’t need the milk are the people who don’t profit at all from telling this to us. Do your research, it’s true.
I was still afraid of turning vegan. I was afraid I would fall off the wagon. I was afraid it would be too difficult. I was afraid I wouldn’t get the right nutrients and I might end up not getting enough vitamins & minerals to survive. I decided to do it anyway because now that I know about how factory farming really works, I can’t go back to eating meat. I just know and have seen too much. So this is where it began, September 5, 2015. I turned vegan and my first breakfast was avocado toast, sprinkled with a little salt & pepper and drizzled with some extra virgin olive oil. I paired it with a glass of chocolate almond milk. After eating that breakfast, I felt great. I didn’t have any regrets and I didn’t feel overfull like I used to with toast and eggs with orange juice. My next meal was a vegetarian gyro I ordered at a greek restaurant and I asked them to make my order vegan. All they had to do was leave out the tzatziki sauce. That was it! Simple!
I was with friends when I ordered it. They laughed and mocked my new diet. I couldn’t blame them though. It annoyed me but I knew I had a pretty good track record of switching my diet every three weeks. They didn’t believe I would be able to stick to it. Honestly, I didn’t think so either, but here I am, a month later, and I feel GREAT. I haven’t fallen off the wagon even once. Yes, I had some opposition at first. Some friends requested that I postpone it or give it up for just one meal. Some people decided to exclude me from meal invites because they didn’t want to accommodate me. I can’t say that didn’t hurt but I still knew I was doing the right thing for how I wanted to live.
Yes, I did think it was going to be hard to give up meat, eggs, milk, ice cream, all the things I LOVE about being a foodie, but it’s really not that hard to be kind & compassionate. I would say that I have more compassion for animals than I do for some humans! So here’s the thing. I’m not giving up meat or dairy or eggs or seafood, I’m giving up animal cruelty which is the single most important reason for me to do it. I cannot contribute to their suffering anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t love vegetables. I still struggle with them day to day. but I choose compassion. I choose to live a kind life. I know I won’t save all the animals from dying but I can choose to be a part of the solution rather than the problem. I cannot just sit there and buy into the “It’s part of the food chain” argument. It’s not. Animals are not a part of our food chain. In Unity, they said “We are not the same, but equal.” That’s the world I want to live in.
There have been nothing but good things physically that has happened to my body as well. I’ve lost 7 lbs, my hair has been behaving every day lately, and my double chin went away. My double chin has been the one thing that has always bothered me whenever I took photos. However, lately, I’ve been noticing a lot less chin and a lot more smiles. My skin has gotten smoother, my energy levels are higher and most importantly, I’m eating with a clear conscience. No animals have been harmed because of my existence and that makes me feel much better. Veganism today is so much easier to do than it was 10 years ago. I think that’s why I’ve been able to stick to it. Almost everywhere you look, there are vegan options available to me. What’s great is that I have a wonderful support group of friends who share my values. One of them even has her own vegan Youtube channel: Astig Vegan.
All changes in the world happened gradually, nothing is immediate. Why should we afford one group of animals our compassion but not another? Children by nature are opposed to violence and murder. Now that I know about the violence and murder that animals have to go through to put food on my plate, I choose to be a part of the change, the vegan movement. I choose to live a conscious life. I choose love over cruelty.
If anyone is interested in living a kind & compassionate life, watch Earthlings on YouTube and open your eyes. It is possible to live this way. Or listen to Ellen DeGeneres. No animals raised for human usage is living a natural life.