I went vegan during the summer of 2016. It was an idea that had passed through my mind every now and then but never really found it’s footing. Often I was inspired by healthy food blogs and instagrams, the allure of picture-perfect salads and Buddha bowls inspiring me to break out the spiralizer and never eat cheese again, for about a week. As I was again going through a “why dairy is bad for you” reading binge and questioning adding feta to my salads, I decided to actually sit down and really do the research behind veganism. Going vegan for health for someone like me would never be enough. I like to have my cake and eat it too, along with pizza and chocolate and burritos and ice cream. Although my health definitely improved from the mere dietary change of removing animal products, I still like to eat skittles and drink beer. What I got serious about was understanding the environmental impacts of the animal agriculture industry. I watched the known “veganizers,” Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives, did some extensive reading, ate the remaining cheese ravioli that was leftover in my fridge and said goodbye to animal products. Since that day I have not questioned it once.
I consider being vegan an everyday, passive form of activism. I don’t have to do anything other than eat according to my diet, and I am making a small contribution. It also has impacted my relationship with myself and with the world. What we eat is one of the most important and most powerful parts of our day, in part because of how basic and fundamental it is. Connecting with and understanding those choices inherently affects your relationship with your self. And making a shift in something so fundamental affects how you move through life and interact with the world around you. Choosing to abstain from animal products causes you to look at nature differently, and your place in it differently. There is an immediate softening of that relationship. There is a deeper understanding.
The saying is that one goes vegan for their health, for the animals, and for the planet. If you initially only go vegan for one of these reasons, you will soon learn the benefits in all aspects. There is no good reason NOT to be vegan.
For My Health
I am already pretty slim, but I lost five pounds within a week after going vegan without effort, simply from the decrease in saturated fat and cholesterol from my diet. It also noticeably improved my digestion within the first month.
For The Animals (Human and Non-Human)
Factory farming is much bloodier and more horrifying than we like to acknowledge. The idea that you are putting into your body something that went through literal hell to get to your plate, is hard to think about. The reason I titled this “Human and Non-Human” animals is because the animals are not the only sufferers in the factory farming industry. Much of the human labor used in factory farming are people disproportionately people of color who are extremely poor and/or undocumented immigrants with no other options. The health and safety risks are extremely high, they work extremely long hours while making next to nothing, and face mistreatment and abuse from their superiors. Due to the horrific nature of the work, areas with slaughterhouses report higher rates of domestic abuse, alcoholism and suicide.
For The Planet