I’d like to begin by sharing that I had no idea I wanted to go vegan even up to the day before I did. In regards to my food intake, I’ve always been confused about which way is the best way to eat and what a good diet really is.
About 4 months ago, I realized that my relationship with food was, in my opinion, pretty bizarre. Since I can remember, about 70% of my food intake consisted of food from the grocery store or market. For these foods, I would read the labels, ask questions about where and how they were made, and decide whether I should purchase and eat them based on that information. The other 30% came from restaurants and fast food joints. Places where it was almost impossible to know how the food was prepared, where it came from, and what it actually was.
After eating foods I was detached from and basically clueless about, I noticed I felt dispirited. I almost felt a sense of guilt. I don’t believe this had much to do with ingesting animal products. I think the sense of guilt originated from practicing being mindful about MOST of the food I was putting into my body, and then randomly throwing that practice out the window completely.
It finally clicked. I felt guilty because I was completely detached from and mindless about something that I was ingesting and temporarily making a part of myself.
After experiencing that guilty feeling a few more times, I decided it was time to make a change.
THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS…
Three days before going vegan I decided that a quick fix for my problem would be to commit to no more cheese and no more meat. I knew that if I set these rules for myself it would require me to take more time in deciding what I was going to eat and ultimately make a better choice for each snack or meal. I can’t remember all of what I ate that day but I do remember 2 things: It worked, and, I really missed cheese.
Two days before going vegan I remember waking up to my 2 cats, Paco and Boo, sleeping at my feet. For the first time in my life I saw all animals as equal. I didn’t put my critters or certain types of animals above or below others. I stared at Paco and Boo and told them silently, sort of telepathically, “I’m not going to eat you anymore.” In that moment I realized that although I would have said I loved ALL animals before, I wasn’t acting like it. Now, I was determined to treat them fairly. I continued with no more meat and no more cheese.
The day I went vegan. On this day, June 5th, 2016, I woke up feeling delighted about my new decision. I would continue not indulging in any meats or cheeses but now I had a greater purpose behind doing so. I went to work at the coffee shop as usual. Just before my shift was over, I spoke with a regular who is closely related to a woman I dog sit for. The regular I was speaking to told me she heard from the woman and found out that I was her dog sitter. The regular laughed as she said “she’s pretty crazy about her dogs.” I laughed and agreed and we shared some examples of why those dogs have amazing lives and are “put on a pedestal.” The regular went on to explain why it was a little over the top in her opinion but we both agreed that the woman obviously thought of the dogs like her children. Then the regular went on to voice her opinion on animals verses humans… how animals are here and humans are here putting one hand out and the other far above that one. She exclaimed, “I mean, there’s a reason why we are at the top of the food chain…Why we have souls and animals don’t. Animals were made for us.” Normally at this point it would seem like I, someone who “loves animals so much” would be judging this person in disgust. In reality, I thought to myself, “I could not disagree with this person anymore than I do.” Then I asked myself, “then why have you been living the same lifestyle as them?” Instead of judging her, I judged myself. It seemed to me that this woman had her mind made up. She knew how she felt about animals and she was living out a lifestyle that matched her beliefs. I on the other hand, would have said I love animals, I believe that no animals should be treated unkindly, and that they must have souls or something of the sort, and yet I was living the exact same way the regular was. I was eating animals, supporting cruelty and mistreatment of them, wearing them, and liking it all the while.
BLAMO! I tapped into a higher level of consciousness. It was in that moment that I decided VEGANISM was the way of life I should be advocating through my own actions if the beliefs I thought I had were sincere. That was the day I decided to go vegan. The day I decided to no longer support animal cruelty and exploitation. To take a daily stand for what I believe in and to stop walking around brushing off things I knew were occurring in order for me to enjoy food that consisted of animals. The next day was June 6th, the first day I ate a completely vegan diet.
Going vegan may appear extreme or seem like a huge sacrifice when you look at it objectively. For me, it is a newly found joy that I get to experience through out the day, every day. Each morning I wake up excited about the stand I will take against animal oppression. Each night I get to go to sleep knowing that I did not contribute to the mistreatment of lives I believe should be free from suffering.
In conclusion, I am beyond grateful for gaining the knowledge that led me to make this change in my life. I know I am just beginning at 27, but I also know that each day that I live a vegan lifestyle, I preserve lives.
With love and compassion,