Someone recently asked my why I was a vegan. Simple question… not so simple answer…
It all began when I became a vegetarian in highschool. Then one day, on a day like many others, I picked up a book. But this book was not like any other book. It was ‘Vegan: The Ethics of Eating’ by Eric Marcus. (I provided a link for you here to his book through his Vegan.com site.) This book changed my life! This book not only showed me that eating vegan was easy, but it was very possible for anyone (of any age) to be vegan! I also learned how beneficial vegan eating was for helping people with medical conditions, lose weight, save the earth, and end animal suffering… all at the same time!
And then I read Animal Liberation by Peter Singer… and my heart just broke learning about all the unfairness in the world of a factory-farm animal. Some may say I’m just really sensitive… but that’s not it. Honestly I felt betrayed… kept in the dark… lied to… about day-to-day things that the average person (such as myself) had NO IDEA was and is happening. To this day, I cannot hold back my tears when I drive past a truck crammed full of chickens because I am sadly aware of what their future holds. I can’t help but think that other people would also care if they knew what these animals were enduring. Maybe some of them would decide to be vegan, like I did… or if not, maybe they would at least want to help change things to become more humane. I by no means see myself as a preachy vegan, nor would I ever push my views on others… but I do believe that everyone willing to eat animal products should be aware of what that entails. (I feel that you must be somewhat interested in veganism or vegetarianism in the first place or else you wouldn’t be here reading this…)
I have come to find that most parents don’t even give the vegetarian option to their kids, let alone the vegan option. Instead, they feed them hamburgers and hotdogs (much the same as their own parents did), without even asking them if they want to eat these once living creatures when there are easily accessible alternatives. Sure, you can argue that some kids are too young to hear the cruelty of a factory farm, but most every child would answer ‘no’ if asked if they would want to eat their dog or cat. So… what makes other animals so different?
I have so far found that raising my two kids as vegan has made them understand empathy at an early age. They even seem to act kinder and even seem more aware of others feelings, especially when it comes to other living creatures. When they ask why we eat vegan, I have left it pretty simple thus far: because we love animals and don’t want to hurt them… and that is something they easily understand. (I have talked a little more in-depth to my 4-year-old about some things and she agrees that if we don’t have to do these things, why should we at all? I couldn’t have put it into a better question myself.)
I AM VEGAN BECAUSE I LOVE ANIMALS. Nowadays, we simply don’t have to kill an animal to eat dinner. We don’t need animal protein to live. We don’t HAVE to eat animals to survive. I love animals and animals love to live. They enjoy lying in the sun, getting affection, hangin’ with their buds, doing as they please… hmmm… sound familiar? 😉 Now, I could use this paragraph to seriously freak you out with all the terrible facts that I know about the lives of these poor factory farm animals, but I honestly don’t really want to give you nightmares. However, I can’t stop you if you click here. (BTW, this is a GREAT site for lots of vegan-related info!)
I AM VEGAN BECAUSE I LOVE MY BODY – Heart disease. Colon cancer. High blood pressure. Clogged arteries. Diabetes. These conditions are ones in which meat and dairy are the main contributors to. It is proven again and again that a vegetable based diet beats out a meat-based diet in all areas of health. Protein does not only come from meat. Iron is not only found in meat. All I am saying, is give peas a chance.
I would also like to mention that I grew up with pretty bad eczema on my legs that vanished when I went vegan. I had no known allergies, and the ointments and medicines the doctors gave me had little to no effect. Having suffered (literally and from embarrassment) from this eczema all through my childhood and teenage years, I was beyond thrilled!! This is only one of many health benefits I have personally experienced from a vegan diet!)
I AM VEGAN BECAUSE I LOVE THE PLANET – I can go on and on about how awful the pollution from factory farming is for our Earth. If only the lands and water used for grazing were used to grow vegetables, more food and less pollution would be produced. There are countless facts to uphold this. The meat industry is one of THE major polluters of our lands and water ways. The United Nations has recently stated that a vegan diet is vital for the future of well-being of our planet, saying that, “A global diet free of meat and dairy is necessary for the world to mitigate the worst effects of climate change”. Just something to think about!
I AM VEGAN BECAUSE I LOVE BEING A MOM – After learning about how baby cows, pigs and chickens are stolen away from their mothers hours after birth, never to see them again, I am heartbroken. Every time I think of a cow crying out for its calf, being dragged away to be put into a veal crate… there are just no words that can describe the kind of tortures and pains these mothers go through, time and time again, until eventually they too become slaughtered. As a mother, I truly feel for those mothers, and cannot in good conscious contribute to what they endure. We are all living creatures. We are all capable of feeling fear and pain… and more importantly, we are all capable of feeling and giving love.
Being a vegan in today’s world can be challenging, especially as a parent, but what better way to teach your kids respect for their body, the earth and those who dwell on it with us?! If all it takes is a few changes to one’s diet to end misery to other living creatures and to better the planet and make the world a kinder place, I ask you to ask yourself, is it really so hard?