Why I’ve Stayed Vegan: My 7-Year Veganniversary

by Courtney on August 18, 2012

Following my blog last week on how I went vegan, I’m continuing to celebrate my 7 years vegan with a new post: why I’ve stayed vegan.

Has staying vegan for 7 years been hard?

The choice to go vegan was a deep one from the start and that has never budged. So in the broadest sense, no, it hasn’t been hard to stay vegan for 7 years. The curious thing is that the beginning of my vegan journey had to do with my own health and well-being. At that point in my life, choosing to act in a loving way to my body by eating better was a radical move. Just choosing in my own best interest was revolutionary in my personal growth.

But it isn’t health that’s kept me vegan. While it’s true that those who eat plant-based diets have far less instances of chronic disease and more minor health challenges like low energy and allergies, I cleared up all my health issues within about the first year of being vegan, so if that’s all I was interested in, it would have been easy to go back to a vegetarian or meat and dairy diet after that.

What’s kept me vegan is my love of animals, primarily. Currently this issue feels most close to my heart. There is no way I could ever be a part of the horrendous way that animals are treated on both factory farms and many local and small farms, too. But beyond that, no matter how an animal is treated, I cannot exploit their bodily products and most pertinently will never eat the flesh of another being who had no choice in the matter of dying, either. I love dogs and I love pigs. I love cows and I love orca whales. Chickens are beautiful beings just as eagles are. I cannot live by discrimination in having a heart for some animals and arbitrarily choosing others whom I treat differently.

In addition to my heart connection with animals, I also will not participate in the environmental destruction that comes along with eating flesh and all other animal products. Eating animal products contributes to global warming, water pollution, the degridation of the earth’s soil quality, and more. Did you know it takes over 12,000 gallons of water to produce 1 lb of beef? And we’re worrying about cutting our showers down by 3 minutes?

 

Lastly, the way we eat is a humanitarian matter. When we use lots of land and water to grow lots of grain in order to feed huge cows so that we can eat meat, we are squandering massive amounts of resources. If the same amount of land and water was used to grow grains for us to eat instead of cows to eat, or to grow other vegetables and fruits, many hungry people would be fed. As mentioned before, animal products also require massive amounts of water — water that could be given to people instead.

It’s not that I haven’t occasionally missed my mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies, or felt self-pity when I went to a wedding dinner and their modification for me was slightly grilled plain zucchini and bell peppers alone. But ultimately the emotions that come up in those situations are not about the actual food that I’m eating and whether it’s vegan or not. They are actually about my feelings and fears regarding deprivation, comfort, rejection, and such things. And on that note, being vegan has actually allowed me opportunities for a lot of internal work, which you could say, is just another benefit of being vegan ;)

For the most part, my veganism is simply not about me anymore.

If you’re feeling like you want to stay vegan but need some extra motivation, I highly recommend watching a few documentaries and reading some books. Among documentaries, “Earthlings” and “Forkes Over Knives” are great ones. As far as books, some of my favorites for vegan motivation are books by John Robbins and Carol J. Adams.

How about you? Do you eat vegan? If so, what has been your main motivation for continuing to do so? What experiences have you had that might have been pivotal in your decision to stay vegan?

Sign up for my Newsletter!

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Nikki August 19, 2012 at 12:28 am

Yes, I’m vegan (2 years) and for many of the same reasons: animals, environment, health and now that you mention it the humanitarian side of it is another great benefit. Once I educated myself on all of these topics the choice was easy and I’ve never looked back. The cravings I’ve had for some old favorites don’t compare to the compassion I feel towards animals. The health benefits have been an awesome bonus as I feel better than I ever have. I’m glad you told your story here and congratulations on 7 years :)

Reply

Courtney August 19, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Congratulations on 2 years vegan, Nikki! Your statement: “The cravings I’ve had for some old favorites don’t compare to the compassion I feel towards animals” totally resonates with me and sums up my feelings, too! Thanks for commenting, Nikki!

Reply

Aubrey August 19, 2012 at 1:09 am

My health and I hate the idea of using animals. I hated being used why would I do it to them! The thing I miss is cheese but oh well.

Reply

kc August 19, 2012 at 3:18 am

Thank you for sharing. I never get tired of reading peoples stories of how and why they went vegan. They all make me feel very fortunate for the situations in life that has been presented to me.
My parents (and me and my brother) went vegetarian when I was 2 years old, but before then the only way my mom could get me to have meat was through chicken broth because I would just spit it out. :p Of course it was difficult being the only vegetarian in the school, incase I wasn’t already different enough haha but it was an amazing blessing that by the time I was 5 we started associating with a spiritual community that was very loving and all vegetarian, that provided me with so many roll models of great people that set the seeds of confidence in my life’s direction.

Despite being vegetarian and having my parents be fairly health conscious I will went through many health challenges. Cutting dairy out when I was 16 to be vegan made a big difference, since I am allergic to milk on top of what ever common health detriments it has. I don’t miss it at all. I did for a few years though.

So I guess the thought of changing has never even crossed my mind. When I see meat I can’t even stomach the idea that it’s food. I don’t know what it tastes like nor do I want to know.

Reply

Courtney August 19, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Your story is really interesting, Kc! That’s really cool that your family is supportive and actually shares the same diet as you. It’s great that going vegan helped you with your health, too! I don’t think flesh is food, either ;)

Reply

kc August 21, 2012 at 1:21 am

Thanks! Ditto, I always like reading your posts, and it’s even more fun to hear your history of what inspired you to be (more) amazing, especially because inspiration inspires inspiration :p I know I’d make no progress without having been inspired to do so, whether internal or external.

Reply

Debby Sunshine August 19, 2012 at 3:47 am

My initial reason for becoming vegan was to live the healthiest life I could possibly live. However, the more I learned about the far reaching implications of eating meat, the more dedicated I am to being a vegan. I find it really incredible that just about every cause I care about (environment, world hunger, cruelty to animals, etc) is affected by my plant-based diet. If that doesn’t motivate me to stay vegan, then what does?

Reply

Courtney August 19, 2012 at 4:53 pm

That’s so wonderful, Debby! Yes, I find that incredible, too – just our diets are that powerful! In thinking about those topics when I was reading about veganism, I just kept thinking “game over.”

Reply

Rosana August 21, 2012 at 9:05 am

The first time I got in touch with the possibility of being vegan was when I read Skinny Bitch. I come from a European Mediterranean country, and the Mediterranean diet has traditionally been considered as one of the healthiest ones in the world, so I had never been concerned about my diet or my food. I have always been healthy to begin with, I have had a plant-based diet complemented with fish, seafood, dairy, eggs and some meat and I only read Skinny Bitch to shed a few pounds.
Thus unlike you, Courtney, I never thought I needed to do anything revolutionary about my health.
Moreover, around these parts, vegans are almost unheard of. 90% of people won’t know what that is. Vegetarians are considered weirdos (a definition that includes also, for instance, Hare Krishnas or macrobiotics), so let’s not talk about vegans! After more than a year of being vegan I met another vegan for the first time last week. It was so exciting!

However, I can relate to you in how thinking of animals has helped me to stay vegan. Of course my health has improved, but before becoming vegan I had never been confronted with the reality of how our animal peers are treated. You have expressed it better than I could so I will not elaborate on this.

I will only add one thing. For all those who face obstacles in your vegan lifestyle, do not let them put you down. I am often faced with situations where I have to eat animal products and I can do nothing about it. For instance, a few weeks ago my Japanese clients (I am a lawyer) took me to a luxury restaurant in Osaka where they only served sashimi. Or when I go out to restaurants to eat with my friends and family there will almost never be a vegetarian option, and then again vegetarian options will invariably contain dairy/eggs. I cannot turn down my clients. I cannot stop going out with friends. So yes, occasionally I will eat some animal products. But I do not despair at my failure and give everything up, nor do I allow a meat-eating habit to form little by little – I just go on knowing that nobody’s perfect, that life is not always predictable and that I will continue to do my best, for my own sake and for my animal siblings’.

Reply

Courtney August 26, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Interesting beginning, Rosana! I’m glad you finally met a vegan friend. Great job on your progress.

Reply

Lisa @ The Raw Serenity August 30, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Bravo! I freakin love this post girl!
I dont understand how people can justify to eat one animal but then feel its not okay it eat another. all animals have feeling and a heart beat so it isnt okay to eat any.
People tell me that its okay to eat cows and not dogs because they were breed for that reason. they dont do anything for them other than feed humans.
I always reply by saying ” so they homeless people who have no jobs and dont benefit us, would deserve to be killed and eaten do then?”
Then they just shut up.. period

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: