One year ago today I made the decision to truly open my heart and align my thoughts with my actions, opening my circle of compassion to include all beings on Earth. I made the decision that I would no longer support the suffering and death of others because I liked the taste of it and I would become a voice for those that can’t speak. Little did I know that becoming a vegan would transform my entire life for the better. I have always had a resistance to labeling myself and others but “vegan” is one label I don’t mind because of what it stands for. It is standing up to an oppressive system that I’ve been fooled into believing is normal and being a voice for those that need it most.
Let me go back a few years and share a bit about my journey that led me to this point. For a long time I lived as just another consumer, a cog stuck in the rat race but always had a feeling that something wasn’t right. Seeing the degradation of the environment, pollution, factory farms (although I still ate meat…) and man’s seemingly disregard for Life as a whole had created some bitterness in me, and a feeling of helplessness. How could one person make a difference with so many huge problems? The fact is what I choose to eat and who that money supports is a powerful form of activism. I still needed to learn this and change my mentality from looking outwards at the problems to looking within and “becoming the change I wanted to see”.
At this point the seed was already planted in me that I didn’t want to cause animals to suffer but there was still a disconnect from my thoughts and actions. I didn’t want to support factory farming but there I was eating meat and directly supporting it with my money ( we are some odd creatures, us humans). I can remember clearly though when I finally made the decision, I had already been eating vegan for a few weeks when someone offered me some biscuits and sausage gravy. I sheepishly told them I was trying a vegan diet and I’d just have the biscuit, but when they insisted and said it was really good I gave in. After eating my stomach didn’t feel great, and I was mad at myself for not standing my ground, I knew an animal suffered and died to make that meal but I said nothing and ate it. In my mind not speaking out and doing nothing is the same as causing the suffering myself. It became clear to me that I didn’t need animal products and I was actually better off without them. This is when I new that if I didn’t commit I wouldn’t be able to stand strong with my actions and would continue living out of alignment with my beliefs.
It was quite a long process for me to make this decision and commit but it was such a great feeling when I did. It is hard to believe such an oppressive food system is considered normal and I understand why it is so difficult to make the connection with what animals are put through and our food (Why do you think they don’t give tours at slaughter houses?), but there is no denying the truth of it. Everyone will have their own process but I encourage you to try, I am proof that life is better on the other side.
Since going vegan I have lost somewhere around 30 lbs. I have more energy than ever and most importantly I know what I stand for and am not scarred to make my voice heard for the animals that are suffering and dying. I feel stronger, can ride my bike farther and don’t get sluggish after eating a big meal. If you’re interested I put together some useful things I’ve learned over the past year in Beginner’s guide to a vegan diet, check it out and good luck on your journey.