My Vegan Journey (One Year Later!)
What sparked the change?
My plant-based eating journey began when I was a sophomore in high school, when my cousin and I decided to join the Animal Rights Club on campus. I have always been an animal lover (thank you Mom for this trait) and have always had a strong sense of compassion for the earth and all of it’s living creatures. After the first club meeting, where I was given a couple of brochures revealing the truth behind the food sources of the popular KFC (Kentucky Fried Kitchen) fast-food restaurant chain, I quickly adopted a vegetarian diet. The information that was presented to me was a complete shock. I had never known the cruelty that went on behind the closed doors of these corporations. It was truly eye opening, and I am thankful to have had exposure to these types of behaviors so early on in my life.
I didn’t take much for me to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle, as my underlying compassion for animals and desire to save the planet was already instilled in me. A couple of years into high school, I began watching films highlighting the various food industries and learned quite a bit more about how food in America is created, marketed and sold. I won’t go into detail here (that’s a whole different ball game) but I do have a separate post that highlights some great films for those who are interested in learning more. There is a wealth of legitimate and scientifically proven information available regarding this subject. While there is controversy regarding the specific details of a vegetarian/ vegan lifestyle, there is also a load of facts that support and encourage it. Despite your reasons for eating meat or not eating meat, what you consume and how you choose to live your life is only up to you and nobody else.
Movies like Food, Inc. and Forks Over Knives helped me to further understand where the food we eat comes from. After forgoing eating meat for a couple years, I bounced back and forth to consuming chicken and fish in fear that I wasn’t getting enough protein. While I have not had red meat in quite some time, I incorporated chicken and fish from time to time for a couple of years after my initial switchover to vegetarianism.
My Shift to a Plant-Based Diet
Hence, I first chose to become vegetarian because I began to really think about where my food was coming from. As someone who already ate pretty healthy, it was not hard for me to forgo eating meat. Before I stopped consuming animal products, I was never heavy or overweight and have always had a relatively thin frame. Eating healthy, wholesome foods has been my way of life ever since I was a young girl. Fortunately, my mom exposed me to health foods early, which I believe is part of the reason that I am so passionate about healthful living.
At first, my shift to veganism was for my health, as I began to watch Youtube videos on the topic of this lifestyle. Specifically, I subscribed to Ellen Fisher’s channel, a mom of two boys and a wife to a plant-based husband as well, who aim towards living a 100% natural life in Hawaii. I found her channel and web content so inspiring (#familygoals), and the information she shared led me to more of my own research, eventually causing me to stop eating animal products all together. On January 1st, 2016, I made the transition to veganism and have not regretted this choice. I immediately stopped consuming animal products and had relatively no issue doing so. It was on the drive back from a New Years Eve’ trip to Mammoth Mountain where I thought why not try? So right there in the backseat of my friend’s truck I made the final choice.
Sustaining This Lifestyle
For the health of the planet, the animals, and myself, I continue to do my best abstaining from using animal products in every aspect. I won’t lie; challenges present themselves in many different forms. Searching the isles of the health food store longer than necessary on the hunt for cruelty-free toothpaste. Shopping for a new pair of sturdy, fashionable, non-leather boots. Conflicted when attending a business dinner at a fancy seafood restaurant, not having anything to order but sea bass.
When you make a conscious choice to live a compassionate lifestyle, it is easy to get caught up over the mistakes that you make. Temptations will rise and sometimes it will be hard to resist. I have been there! It’s important to remember that the mistakes you make don’t define you, and your initial intentions are what matters most.
A little over one year later, and I am still going strong. Yes, there have been setbacks, questions, and confusion. Every day, I face challenges, learn something new and go through the trials and tribulations that go along with a lifestyle change. I am thankful to have found this compassionate way of life and remain dedicated to the purpose and underlying causes of a cruelty-free lifestyle.
Compassionate people are geniuses in the art of living, more necessary to the dignity, security and joy of humanity than the discoverers of knowledge. – Albert Einstein