“Vegan” seems to be a dirty, dirty word among my circle of friends and colleagues. When I decided to become a vegetarian 5 months ago, I did so in secret. Now that I’m attempting veganism, I feel like I want to shout it proudly from the rooftops – but I’m a bit scared of how those close to me will react.
For the first few weeks of my vegetarianism a few months back, I went about my days as normal – just without the meat. I made the decision to continue eating dairy and eggs to make life (and wedding planning) easier for everyone, but cut out all animal flesh. It took my husband over a week to notice – even though we eat at least one meal a day together – and, to be honest, I believe some of my friends and family still haven’t noticed. I’m not the “preachy” type and I’m certainly not about to shove my views down anyone’s throat – but I’m surprised at how many people shake their heads and give me a “you’re crazy – and not in a good way” stare when I mention veganism.
I’ve read and studied a lot about food, health, and fitness over the years – this is my second attempt at veganism – I attempted it for just under a year in my early twenties and was on and off vegetarian for two or three years before that. I will admit that when I went vege in my past, I did it irresponsibly; I just cut out the meat and continued on with my poor eating habits. This time though – a change has come over me. I am reading daily about the truths and facts of becoming vegan and am actively researching farming and cultivation methods, green and sustainable options for my entire life, organics and whole health from a vegan perspective. I have to say – this feels like “me.”
Going vegetarian was a decision I made with my head – largely because of my own personal health. Going vegan (or attempting it anyway) is a choice I am making from my heart. It’s one I know not everyone can understand or support, but please, I only ask for tolerance. I won’t rain on your parade if you don’t rain on mine.
If you’re interested, here is a collection of some of the ideas, quotes, and simple facts (don’t worry – nothing too gory – no need for shock value here!) that sparked the beginning of my journey 5 months ago:
“The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” – Thomas A. Edison
• The United Nations issued a report in 2006 saying that the livestock industry is responsible for more damage to the environment than all of the transport industry put together.
• Meat contributes to global warming and climate change: By burning fossil fuels and creating gas emissions at an unprecedented rate, we are raising global temperatures and changing climate patterns worldwide. Methane (which traps 21 times more heat per molecule than carbon dioxide) emitted by livestock accounts for 19 percent of the total global methane emissions.
• Among many other negatives, meat is full of antibiotics. Because animals are raised in confined, dirty, stressful environments, they are given antibiotics as a routine preventative measure. Animals are also pumped full of hormones to promote more muscle mass. These antioiotics and hormones don’t go away – they are passed on to you; and you really don’t need or want them. Please – if you are going to eat meat, or feed it to anyone in your family – buy free range – grain fed – antibiotic free meat. Even better – get to know your butcher so you know exactly where your meat is coming from. This is SO important.
• Meat wastes water. The Food Science and Human Nutrition Department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University say it takes approximately 2500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef. No – that’s not a typo.
• Animals eat a lot of food. While 1.2 billion people do not have enough to eat every day, we’re bending over backwards to make sure the 20 billion cows, pigs, and chickens are getting fatter by the minute.
• Meat production (including egg and dairy farming) is cruel. I won’t go any farther, because – if you eat meat, dairy or eggs – you don’t want to know. But I encourage you to do some research – the practices are downright disgusting.
“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” – Albert Einstein
The above facts and quotes were adapted from the book “The Kind Diet” by Alicia Silverstone. It’s a wonderful book for anyone interested in making themselves and, by extention, the world around them, healthier. I highly recommend it.