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?