Q. Why Did You Go Vegan?
A. I was lucky. I was born into a household of compassion. From the time I was born until about the age of 5, I was a vegetarian. I was taught that it’s wrong to hurt or kill animals and that being a vegetarian was something that we did. However, like many aspiring, conscious, vegetarians or vegans, we stopped. We ate meat and eggs and dairy, the works for awhile. Then, I became a vegetarian again in Jr. High School. Then I relapsed and it wasn’t until the end of high school before starting college that I made the switch for good. I don’t know why, but despite knowing it was wrong to eat meat, I continued to do so. I continued to live with the guilt of eating meat, knowing that I shouldn’t, and knowing that it’s possible not to.
I relapsed simply because I was too focused on what I was losing, not what I was gaining. That’s the switch that occurred the summer before college. I began to invest a little more effort into making the switch for good, for finding stable, sustainable ways to replace and eliminate my meat consumption. When I went vegetarian, I went cold tofurky ;).
I started by eating less fake meat substitutes, (although tofurky sandwiches were a staple of mine in the dorms), and began eating dishes that just didn’t include meat. I stopped thinking about what I wasn’t eating, but more about what I was saving. When I’d feel like I wanted meat, I’d research animal rights, and this short film, is what did it for good (WARNING: GRAPHIC). I’d see meat and see this film, and realize that my choice of going meatless was contributing to the overall good of animals and my well being. Fast forward 6 months!
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After six months of being a vegetarian and after six months of exploring new foods and options, I watched the movie Vegucated. I wasn’t a vegan at the time, simply because I didn’t understand. I didn’t know better! Now, I have no idea how I was so oblivious to it, but for those just starting out, the realities of factory farming, and the dairy industry, are very well masked. I always bought cage free eggs and organic milk with the impression that I was helping make a difference, that chickens shouldn’t be in cages and cows shouldn’t have injected hormones, but I honestly thought that no animals were being harmed. I thought, that the cows were in pastures being milked by the local farmer, that the chickens were running around in big fields just leaving eggs to be picked up, etc. Just the image that many of the dairy industry promotions and marketing evoke.
Then I started to see hints and bits and pieces of information come through about how maybe the dairy industry isn’t so innocent. I watched Vegucated and read all the information I could on these crazy vegans out there, and the curtain was pulled back and I saw what I was really contributing to. Cage free or free range does not mean cruelty-free, the cute cows in pastures on the milk cartons aren’t the realities of mainstream dairy, and worst I thought vegans were crazy and overboard and that what I was doing was enough! But when I started to look for articles and videos that exposed the realities, I began to see that for me, vegetarianism wasn’t enough. I made the switch, but started slow.
I began with baby steps by first buying almond milk instead of dairy milk, adjusting from eggs with tofu or flax meal (for baking), and just started diving into the research and tips and recipes for vegans. Now, 6 years later, I’m still a vegan, a happy vegan. Now that I’m more involved in the vegan and vegetarian community I also learn new facts every day about how my choice is making a difference in the lives animals, the environment, and myself.
Something I didn’t realize was that by going vegan you can reduce environmental destruction, something that I’ve always tried to be conscientious of. Here’s one of many articles that highlights how going vegan can help with the environment. There’s also countless articles that promote the health aspects of ditching dairy and meat for healthy, happy hearts, and more! Check out this post Jeff wrote about ditching cheese! But in the end, what keeps me going is knowing that I’m consciously making a difference to help not only the environment and myself, but making a difference towards making the world a more peaceful, compassionate place. It just takes baby steps. Here’s another great article to see what the UN thinks about veganism!
I also want to take this moment to explain a little about my philosophy on going vegan/vegetarian and convincing others to (because I get asked this a lot!). I’m a firm believer in the philosophy of live by example. I am not someone who condemns those who are not vegan/vegetarian. I do think veganism/vegetarianism is the way to go (obviously!), but I think that by showing others the benefits of a cruetly-free life are much more effective than condemning people into one.
For me, I also believe in baby steps. I wasn’t a vegetarian for my entire life, nor a successful one from the beginning! It took many trials and errors despite me knowing better and knowing that I wanted to be vegetarian! I also didn’t switch to veganism cold tofurky either! I know that change can be uncomfortable, so I suggest baby steps. I started by replacing one thing at a time, and I’ve maintained my lifestyle for over 6 years now!
Also, don’t beat yourself up if you slip up! Just get back to it as quickly as possible. It can be difficult to transition, but it’s worth it. It does get much easier. Changing habits is one of the most difficult things to do! As always, I’m here to help! Keep submitting your questions and I’ll keep answering them as best to my knowledge as possible! There’s a huge community of supporters out there eager to help you with your transition who can provide motivation and inspiration daily.
Remember, if you’re conciously doing your part, the label doesn’t matter, do what works best for you. You can make a huge difference with small actions!
To help promote community, support, and collaboration, I’ve created a VegetarianSnob Facebook group for you to join! Join here!
This has been my story, in a very condensed, abridged version. What’s yours?
P.S. Be sure to submit your question below in the comments and be sure to share your story! Why did you go vegan? I’d love to feature your story!