Why I Became a Vegan
There are plenty of reasons people make the change to a plant-based diet: health, animal-cruelty concerns, eco-friendliness, it’s super hip, etc. Many people, I have found, began to think twice about their omnivorous lifestyle after watching a truly shocking documentary or reading an eye-opening article.
My personal “kick-in-the-ass” was watching Before the Flood created by Leonardo diCaprio. I thought fossil fuel industry and pollution were the leaders of climate change issues, and it had never occurred to me raising animals was actually killing the planet faster than anything else. Or maybe I had not wanted to think about it. But, once I did, there was no going back, and I began to do more and more research to learn about the truth I had hidden from my whole life.
One of the most impactful things I heard came from an interview in Cowspiracy with Howard Lyman who states:
“You can’t be an environmentalist and eat animal products. Period. Kid yourself, if you want. If you wanna feed your addiction, so be it. Just don’t call yourself an environmentalist.”
That did it for me. Being an environmentalist is a part of who I am, and there was no denying the impact of my omnivorous diet. I could not feign ignorance and continue eating meat while claiming I cared about saving the planet; especially when I had made other sacrifices and choices in life to follow a more sustainable and eco-friendly path.
Although there are many factors in the decision to cut out meat, my personal motivation in becoming vegan is to help the environment by not contributing to agribusiness and destruction of land for sake of raising animals. Not only does it create problems of deforestation, but food grown on this land is given to animals when people in the same region could use the land for their own food. Other, much more scientific, information on the destruction of agribusiness can be found on my Resources page or this post . At the risk of sounding snooty, I identify as an “envirovegan” due to the fact that my sole purpose for eating a plant-based diet is to avoid personally partaking in the unimaginable damage to our planet and its people. Therefore, I plan to provide information to like-minded individuals about food products, companies, and lifestyle choices primarily regarding their environmental impact.
How I Started
As a broke college student, throwing out all of my food and beauty products was not a feasible option. I offered some stuff away to my roommates, and made different choices on my next grocery runs. But, inevitably, there were some setbacks.
First of all, I had never in my life had any sort of dietary restriction. The only question I would ask where food was concerned was more along the lines of: “Should I really eat this entire bag of chips?” (Answer: no). Never had I checked a product for containing gelatin or wondered if banana bread had eggs in it. Consequently, starting off was a bumpy road. Sometimes I would forget that cheese was a dairy product, or that I couldn’t eat chicken noodle soup. Other times I simply gave into In-N-Out cravings. And one day I realized: it wasn’t even worth it. Knowing what I know, meat just didn’t taste the same.
Yet, that was only one item on a long list of animal products I needed to cross off in order to reach my goals. Finding the time to research alternatives and nutritional needs for a vegan lifestyle was put on the back burner when there were papers to be written and exams to study for. Not to mention the added cost of buying nutritious food as opposed to 99 cent mac ‘n cheese and $2 tacos. So, cutting out beef and phasing out dairy is how I eased myself into a change I never imagined I would make.
As of Now
Writing this, I am a few months into post-grad life, and while funding a healthier lifestyle still remains an issue, there is more time for research and relaxation when it comes to meals. Gone are the days of stuffing down a Hot Pocket before class, and having a 30 minute window to grab groceries. I have managed to almost completely remove dairy products from my diet, along with red meat. However, other obstacles still remain in my determination to completely rely on a plant-based diet. For example, living with a significant other that does not have these dietary restrictions, presents its own issues (full post on this topic found here). Also, chicken and eggs have been a part of my diet for so long, it’s all I know how to make. Widening my meal repertoire is next on the list for post-grad life in order to cut out animal products altogether. Suggestions?
Overall, the point I am trying to make is that everyone goes on their own journey. Some can quit their omni-life cold-turkey, others have been vegetarian for a while and can ease into veganism a little smoother, and there’s those of us that cannot simply change our entire lives overnight for a number of different reasons. I would like to tell these people that you are not alone, and your struggle is not invalid because others change quicker or more easily. The point of all this is to live a healthier, kinder, more sustainable lifestyle and the fact that you are trying to be mindful, compassionate human beings speaks volumes. I hope hearing about my journey, unfinished though it is, gives you confidence to continue through yours.
Let me know about your new vegan life! Are you still transitioning? What gives you the strength to keep going? What did you find most difficult? Do the veteran vegans of the world have advice for us newbies?