WARNING: There will be graphic images in this post.
Did you know that it takes 660 gallons of water to make a 1/3 pound burger? Did you know that animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually? Fracking only uses a range of 70-140 billion gallons annually. Crazy right?
I am about to hit my seven month vegan anniversary this week and I wanted to post about my reasons and experiences on why I made the switch. I have had lots of questions, lots of confused looks, lots of arguments, and lots of jokes thrown my way because of my lifestyle. So let me tell you why I chose this path.
There are many different reasons why people become vegans. There are health reasons, animal rights activism, moral issues, environmental concerns, and countless others that lead people to eat only plant-based products.
For me, it’s a combination of those reasons.
I had my first exposure to the vegan lifestyle a little over a year ago when my boyfriend’s family decided to make the switch. At first I was confused and hesitant to accept their choice but once they explained to me their reasons, I tried to explore more with them. I made a completely vegan tart for Thanksgiving 2015 and I ate meals with them that they had made (which were so delicious!).
For a long time I remained hesitant to make the switch, knowing that as a broke college student, I could be easily swayed by cheap food and easier recipes. However, after a serious battle with severe depression during the fall of 2015 I realized that I perhaps was contributing to my unhappiness by not taking care of myself. I have had struggles with eating disorders before and food had always been an enemy of mine. There were times where I wouldn’t eat for days and then there were times when I ate so much all I could do was sleep the rest of the day. Either way, my eating habits were incredibly unhealthy and were a large factor in my overall mentality on life.
So on January 1st, 2016 I decided that I was going to make the switch and live as a vegan. I cut everything cold turkey. All meats, all cheeses, milks, eggs, creams, leather, silk, suede, and everything. No animal products of any kind. It was extremely hard at first to manage the cravings that I had for cupcakes and burgers and doughnuts and cookies (I have a huge sweet tooth, can’t you tell?). But little by little I embraced my new lifestyle. I fell in love with it actually. I felt so much healthier and so much better. I lost 10 lbs the first two months of my new lifestyle which made me feel amazing! I also gained a greater compassion for all creatures. I used to hate spiders and insects of all kinds and kill them on sight. Now, I usually leave all spiders be and maybe even give them words of encouragement to go after the damned mosquitoes, and I relocate bugs outside instead of squishing them. I fell even more in love with my dogs and cats. I grew to be more compassionate towards all creatures great and small. I even grew to be more spiritual with the rhythms of the world and its creatures.
I saw such positive changes in my life since I made the switch. I can never see myself returning to eating meat ever. The very thought of it makes my stomach churn. One of my biggest motivators for staying the course is compassion. Animals are living, breathing, thinking, and feeling beings that deserve life. And after researching and seeing the havoc that meat wages on ones body and the havoc that animal agriculture wages on our earth, I have all the motivation I need to keep going.
I recently had an experience that put fuel on my fire to continue to be vegan and to spread the lifestyle to others.
Story time! This past weekend I was traveling up to Chicago with my boyfriend and his family to go to the Chicago Vegan Food and Drink Festival in Grant Park. We all left early on the morning of the festival and started the drive up. While we were on the highway, we passed 4 huge 18 wheeler trucks carrying hundreds of live turkeys. I looked out my window in horror as we based by the trucks. Turkeys crammed into cages smaller than an iPad, their feathers flying into the windshields of the cars so unfortunate as to be behind the trucks. Beautiful birds that had bald patches all over their bodies, that had their beaks clipped, their lives taken away. Some turkeys were actually dead, their necks hanging limply out of the cages and banging against the sides. One of my fellow travelers and I were moved to tears after passing the trucks, knowing that each one of those birds was bound to end up on someone’s kitchen table.
This is just an example photograph because I was so disgusted I couldn’t bring myself to take a picture. But this is the reality. I have seen this in person. No being deserves this kind of treatment for any reason.
This is what keeps me vegan. Knowing that I did not cause any animals to suffer, knowing that I could maybe, just maybe, end this kind of abuse or at least inspire others to become vegan.
I will say, it is still hard, especially since the country and the culture that I live in is so meat centered. When you think of America you think of bald eagles, beer, and barbecue. But did you know you could do beer and barbecue and not have to eat dead flesh??? Plant based proteins are wonderful and a lot of different companies are starting to introduce more and more products. Tofu, seitan, and tempeh are fantastic meat alternatives. Beans and legumes provide protein. You can also make milk, cream, and ice cream out of almonds, coconuts, cashews, soy, and hemp. And the good thing about vegetables? You can eat a whole lot of them and not consume thousands and thousands of calories. I had barbecued pulled jack fruit, collard greens, and corn on the cob the other night and I must say, eating vegetables is the best. Everything was so delicious.
So, those are my reasons, my motivators. Becoming vegan was one of the best decisions I have made in a while. I implore you to think about making the change. If you are interested in any more information or want to do some more research before making the switch, I highly recommend watching these films and visiting these sites. All of these films can be found on Netflix.
Forks Over Knives–http://www.forksoverknives.com/
Food, Inc. –http://www.takepart.com/foodinc