After eating animals and using animal products for most of my life I started reading health books as part of an interest in personal growth. Health reasons kept me on this path as my digestion was completely out of whack and I would do anything to avoid surgery. It didn’t take long to learn the effects that my eating animal products had on my health the environment and the welfare of animals, who I claimed to love so much.
Many people ask me why I eat an “almost” vegan diet, I say “almost” because not very often but sometimes non vegan practice still enters my life and I don’t want to pretend I am something that I am not. Only that I strive to eliminate most animal uses, it’s different for everyone, some are 100% vegan and some are still on the journey. Before I dive into it, let me first say I’m not interested in trying to convert you to veganism. I am just happy to share my personal story for those who care to listen. While many vegans are conversion-happy, for me this is a personal lifestyle choice. I’ve noticed that people tend to go vegan and make changes when they’re ready for it. So take this as an insider’s report on my path to a vegan or conscious living rather than conversion rhetoric.
In my learnings I am convinced that the vegan diet fits all if not most of my values, my health reasons and my desire to do good-by the planet, the kindness of the diet fits in with my quest for inner peace and wanting to make a difference in this world, to be part of a movement that is interested in the elimination of suffering and violence. What motivated me to try veganism wasn’t just animal rights or environmental issues but simply the desired to be a more compassionate person, a person who wanted to do my part and be connected to my self and the earth, respecting all living things. Of course along with the possibilities of enjoying the health benefits. My curiosity was driven entirely by self-interest.
It was only after going “mostly” vegan that I openly exposed myself to other arguments for veganism. One of the best books I read was Diet for a New America. I was amazed at just how destructive the habit of eating animal products is, to our bodies and our environment. If you’re the kind of person who loves data and stats then Diet For A New America is for you, although the figures are somewhat dated by now, I still recommend the read. I tried using the stats to see if I could convince other people to try veganism or at least vegetarianism. Nothing so righteous as the newly converted, right? I ended up convincing a few people, but mostly it opened my eyes as to just how stubborn people were, even in the face of overwhelming data. It doesn’t bother me when people eat animals in front of me, they’re free to eat whatever they want. I do notice, however, that people often feel uncomfortable eating animals in front of vegans. While some people would regard my diet as severely restrictive, it feels nothing of the sort to me. In the end I think it mostly helped me become more open-minded.
All these aspects of being “mostly” vegan began to touch me. I read more about the topic watched more videos, read about factory farming, all the while becoming saddened by the animal cruelty, especially when I realized this is what most people contribute to every single day. You can find videos on Peta’s web site, or try watching Earthlings. Overall I felt relieved that my decision made a small but positive effect in reducing animal suffering and environmental damage. I like that at every meal I kow that I am not contributing to the cause of animals to suffer.
Each day I feel the effects of my decision, I am more compassionate not just towards animals but towards people. This awareness shift grows stronger everyday, as if something in my spirit has become unblocked. Along with the desire for personal growth by being very active in my choices in all aspects of my life. The feeling of compassion towards others continues to expand, it guides my desire to share. I think a compassion-minded lifestyle is a matter of degree rather than essence because no matter where you are, you can always improve. I am still making improvements, it’s a never-ending process. My husband and I started donating money to pro-vegan nonprofit organizations, sanctuaries and local animal charities. I say pro because there can be a lot of negative advocates out there. This year I managed to put together my own event, something I am very proud of called Gimme Shelter, Everyday Choices.
It’s important to accept the position that if you already own animal items like shoes, the animal has already paid the price, so you should honor its life by using them or giving them away to someone instead of throwing them away. It can be rather challenging to avoid all use of animal items, since they’re so prevalent in modern society. If you choose to make the change it’s ok to go slow, it is however the death of an old life and a birth of a new one. I am however committed to lifelong dietary and personal improvement, I’m always looking out for the next step. I look forward to reflecting on this blog to see where I am in a year from now.