Why Did You Go Vegan?
I get this question a lot and for a while I had a very simple answer.
Now… not so much.
It’s be a year since I decided to try veganism again. Again? Yep. In college I had a very good friend that introduced me to a plant based diet. I kept it up until I moved in with roommates who followed the “typical” American diet. I could say it was a money thing but honestly it was a laziness thing.
So, here I am. A year after going vegan and I feel…. GREAT! Back to the original question - why did I go vegan? In order for me to answer this I thought I’d delve into the top three reasons most people go vegan.
Reason #1: Health
From losing weight to curing diseases, people are switching to a plant based diet to heal their body. Recently I’ve noticed a rise in documentaries on the topic available on Netflix -Cowspiracy, Vegucated, What the Health and, my favorite, Forks Over Knives.
“Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. The major storyline in the film traces the personal journeys of a pair of pioneering yet under-appreciated researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.”
I personally have never experienced cancer, heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure but the evidence presented in these documentaries that a plant based diet can prevent or even reverse these afflictions is pretty damn convincing.
Now if you're wondering if my health has improved at all… let me tell ya - my skin is clearer, I never feel sick after a meal, I sleep better, I never get headaches and I never feel as though I’m in a fog. I’m able to get all the necessary nutrients including plant protein, fiber and minerals without the saturated animal fat and cholesterol. I honestly feel Amazing.
Reason #2: Ethics
A more controversial reasoning behind going vegan is the belief that it is unethical to mass produce/consume animal products. When I started my vegan journey, the ethical principles behind it were not on my radar. Then something very interesting happened. I opened my mind to hearing the ethical argument, continued my research, and found myself crying at the end of Okja. If you haven’t seen the Netflix original movie Okja, I highly recommend it.
Something clicked when I started researching about the intelligence of pigs.
Authors Lori Marino, a neuroscientist and Christina M. Colvin, a professor at Emory University note, in their paper Thinking Pigs: A Comparative Review of Cognition, Emotion, and Personality in Sus domesticus, that pigs have been found to be mentally and socially similar to dogs and chimpanzees.
They love to play games, have longterm memories and can be socially manipulative to other pigs. Does this make you question your food choices? I already know what some of you are thinking - “but bacon is sooo good”. Sure, but have your tried dog meat?
At some point in history, we decided that we would eat pigs and keep dogs as pets. Cognitive testing shows that pigs have the same level of intelligence and have even outperformed dogs in some cases.
Is it ok to treat your dog like a family member while pigs are slaughtered by the millions every day? This is not to offend anyone but to make you really think about why people eat chicken, beef, pork, etc.. Debate is welcome.
Reason #3: The Planet
To be perfectly honest, this is one reason I haven’t done a ton of research on. It’s the idea that the mass productions of animal products has harmful effects on our planet. I mean… it’s definitely not far-fetched.
Pollution: “The process generates copious amounts of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide, while the output of methane—another potent greenhouse gas—from cattle is estimated to generate some 20 percent of overall U.S. methane emissions.”
World hunger: “If all the grain currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million,” reports ecologist David Pimentel of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He adds that the seven billion livestock in the U.S. consume five times as much grain as is consumed directly by the entire U.S. population.
So why did I go vegan? None of the above reasons. I bet you weren’t expecting that.
I will say that after doing my research I’ve come to share the belief that veganism is an ethical choice while being beneficial to our health and the environment. But…my initial reason for going vegan was as simple as this - I wanted to try something new. I was curious and hungry for knowledge. We are all raised with certain values and beliefs. I thinks it’s healthy to challenge what society calls normal and establish our own opinions.
By opening myself up to a new ideology this year, I’ve open myself up to some amazing experiences. I’ve found a love for cooking that I’ve never had before. I’ve discovered a fruit that tastes like meat! I’ve explored farmers markets, vegan festivals and new restaurants. I’ve realized how compassionate I am - especially when crying over a computer generated super pig (Okja).
Whatever you beliefs or values are I encourage you to keep learning or as I like to say “evolving”.
P.S. If you have any interest in changing your diet, I encourage you to start small with the Meatless Mondays pledge.
Peace & Love,