why i went vegan
Can you believe that in over two years of being a vegan that I have never blogged about why I decided to switch?! (I've only touched on why I don't eat meat, but there's more to it than just that.) Well, here I am to start from the very beginning of my journey. Enjoy :).
From the Beginning
Back in May of 2011, I started thinking more about my food/health decisions, and was interested in some aspects that I never thought I would ever consider in my life (i.e.: vegetarianism and veganism). I started with a "challenge" to myself to eliminate land animals (chicken and turkey were mainly what I was eating at the time) because they weren't adding anything monumental to my meals, so I thought, what the heck! and nixed them for what was suppose to be a month.
In that month, I also stumbled upon Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and read it cover-to-cover. It changed me.
I had decided to turn my month challenge into a 'I'll keep going for as long as I can" challenge (because I'm stubborn and wanted to see if this was something temporary or actually permanent). This is also when my reason for heading down the vegetarian road shifted. It went from self-focused (i.e.: for health/wellness and weight loss reasons) to everything-focused, or so to speak, and this is when I knew it was becoming a part of me/who I wanted to be. It was no longer just something that might have been thought of as a phase.
Throughout that summer though, I continued to eat fish and dairy products, mainly because my knowledge for animal factory farming was still increasing (and I wasn't quite aware of my impact yet), and I also worked in the food industry, so I would snack on any leftovers, like buttered veggies and frosted cakes, after meal services.
I started becoming more mindful, decreased the snacking (and bringing more of my own to work!), and then eventually cut out all aquatic animals by the end of the summer. This was around the same time that I started back to university and in the midst of looking for podcast to listen to, to pass time on my commute to school, I found one that would forever change me: Food for Thought. This podcast had everything I wanted to know in one place, and gave me the confidence I needed to go out in the world as a vegan.
So, as soon as I quit my job in November (and thus, away from all the non-vegan foods I worked with), I went full-on vegan.
In the 2.5 years I've now been a vegan, there are many more tools I've used to keep learning (such as movies, books, blogs, and podcasts - I'll show you at the end) and increasing my knowledge in these areas.
Now the kicker...
If you had met me 5 years ago, you would have thought, 'this girl will never become a vegan.' I joked about what vegans even eat, and toted about how I liked steak too much. So, if you think that you're talking to someone who always thought this way, you're wrong. I've been on both ends of the spectrum, so I understand the different places that people may be in, and also the choices they might make.
And take my husband for example, never in a million years (more than me!), would I have ever dreamed he would be vegan. He used to be the prime example of meat sweats. He went vegan by choice (I'm sure my knowledge in the area helped his decision), and this was directly quoted from him (as I was formulating this post):
"I just feel so good now!"
So you never know what might be inspiration for someone to make small food changes. I somehow decided to make them, so did my husband, and now we are thriving vegans!!
[An important consideration: any change has to be for YOU, not anyone else. People may help you, but you ultimately must help yourself first. For anything. Period.]
Now, I want to go into some finer details on my decision to be completely vegan (vs. vegetarian or pescatarian).
Why No Dairy?
I know dairy is the one thing that holds a lot of people back from going full-on vegan. I get it. I was there. But, can I be brutally honest with you for a minute and give you my reason why consuming dairy is not ok with me anymore? (And remember: this is my reason, I don't expect you to feel the same way.) If you subbed humans in, this would NOT be ok with anyone. Artificially inseminated, baby taken from us minutes after birth, hooked up to a machine to produce milk (while given no time to grieve) and then when our milk supply diminishes, we would be impregnated again, so we can repeat the same cycle, until we can't product milk anymore, and then we'd be sent to slaughter. And then, if we had a daughter, she would be forced to the same life as us, and if it was a son, he would be sent to die or raised on a veal farm to eventually die anyways. I don't see why it's ok to do this to cows, since we would never do this to humans. I told you, brutally honest in my feelings for this industry :).
That alone made me put aside my need for cheese and switch to great dairy alternatives. Plus, after a while of not consuming something, you don't crave it anymore. Trust me. But again, I'm not here to sell you on why you shouldn't eat dairy, I'm just telling you why I'm vegan, and not vegetarian.
Why No Fish?
Although I was technically pescatarian for the whole summer in 2011 (I usually ate fish when we went out to eat - we ate out a lot that summer!), I finally ditched it heading into school. I didn't like the fact that in order to catch the main fishes we see, a lot of other byproducts suffer, such as, seahorses, starfish, other "unpopular" fishes, dolphins, sharks, and even whales (it really started affecting me the more and more I read on it)! Plus, fish factory farming is becoming increasingly popular. Did you know (I learned in class) that salmon farmers can actually choose the colour of salmon flesh they would like their salmon to look like, in the same sense of you choosing a paint colour for your wall! It doesn't make sense to me that we seemingly need omegas by consuming fish, when they get their omegas from algae/seaweed, so we could just do the same (note: Tyler and I use spirulina powder in smoothies and take chlorella tablets - both are algaes). Why do we need to go through the fishes to get omegas? That's just how I feel and why I no longer consume them.
And, because I love Finding Nemo so much...
Not only does our choice to consume animals determine our future health (and risk of diseases), but also the animals themselves, and the environment. I won't go largely into detail here, but here are some of the things that I've considered since I started educating myself:
emissions from animal waste and disposal of it
rainforest clearing for raising crops to feed to animals
desensitization to slaughterhouse employees
additives to foods/products derived from animals
byproducts of the meat industry
These are just some other things that contribute to my reason for going vegan on top of the mentionables above. Also know, I'm not trying to convert anyone to veganism, if anything, I just want to make people more aware. Animal suffering (and all that encompasses it) happens whether we acknowledge it or not. I don't expect the world to turn completely to veganism, but if we can all just become a little more aware of the impact of our choices and decisions, then I think we're one step in the right direction.
I understand if you never want to read my blog again, but I think it's important for me to be able to talk about something I so strongly believe in because well, hey, it's my blog and I can say whatever I want, but more importantly, because this is my lifestyle! I also want you all to be apart of who I am, and hopefully even if you disagree with my views that we can still be friends and you're open to understanding why I feel the way I do.
I also don't want you to think that as a vegan, I think I'm perfect. Everyone is flawed, but we are empowered individuals with choices! It's just how you choose to live your life. For me, as soon as I went vegan, I felt more in alignment with my true self, like I actually was who I said I would be; you can't compete with those feelings!
My hope is that you've learnt a little something from me, like what I've done from the resources I've used below! I hope that my views and beliefs were in no way considered pushy or 'the only way' approach (and also why I have a deep respect for the way others live, as well). I'm just proud of who I am and what I believe in, which is why I have no shame in putting this post out there for all to see so thank you for reading!
But, before I go, some...
I wanted to leave you with a few educational pieces that I really enjoyed - vegan or not. I really believe in "let food be thy medicine" which is why I decided to pursue a degree in Nutrition, and also why I've chosen to read so much up on it. So, here are some useful resources:
Documentary: Food, Inc
Documentary: Forks Over Knives
Documentary: Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead
Book: Eating Animals
Book: Skinny Bitch
Book: Fast Food Nation
Book and website: The 30 Day Vegan Challenge(watch the YouTube video to this link; she's awesome!)
Website (to search for recipes): Finding Vegan
And just in case you need a little plant-based humour to lighten the atmosphere (or at least I do for coming in with such heavy posts this week!!):
Have a great weekend and thanks again for listening!
Disclaimer: If you do plan on making a change to your current diet, just make informed decisions. It's just like anything, if you take something out, you're going to have to replace it with something else. A well-balanced vegan diet is just as nutritionally complete as any other diet, if not more, as long as you're incorporating the right things. And if you are lacking in some areas, make sure you figure out what supplementation you might need. Most importantly, do your homework, or feel free to ask me any lingering questions you may have by emailing!!