Monday, January 13, 2020

Top 3 Reasons To Go Vegan

I remember in college people always knew what a vegetarian was, but the term "vegan" wasn't really thrown around too much. In my high school and college years I had the idea that I wanted to be a vegetarian for sure as I couldn't stand the idea of eating animals. There was this really great health food store in my town that had an in-house, freshly prepared food section that I would always check out just for fun and so many times I saw things labeled as 'vegan.'

It was funny because the food seemed so alien-like to me. If it didn't have meat, eggs, cheese or any other animal product, then what could possibly be in it? If I'm being truthfully honest, none of the options looked even remotely appetizing. But I've never shied away from trying new things so I picked up a vegan Asian noodle dish and tried it.

Needless to say, I've never eaten another dish from that place again. Maybe it was because I ate it cold when it said it was supposed to be warmed up (okay that's my fault), or maybe it was because it was much more expensive than a non-vegan dish would have been and I was still left feeling hungry afterward. All in all, this experience just left me thinking "okay vegan food is weird and I think I'm perfectly okay with just being vegetarian."

This was nearly 10 years ago, though, and vegan food is not what it used to be!

Just before I turned 25 there was some sort of seismic shift within me and I suddenly felt drawn to the vegan culture. I started doing research and learning all I could about what it was like to be vegan and why people were choosing to live this way.

Suddenly I felt a deep connection with the people I was beginning to follow and what they were saying. So many of their reasons were reasons that I personally had and today I'm here to share with you what those are. These are my personal top three reasons for why I went vegan, but you'll also find that many vegans will tell you that these are on the top of their list as well.

** As you begin to read, please keep in mind these are just my own personal thoughts and opinions. Each person has their own right to think and express what they want and how they feel. If you find that, as you read, you begin to feel a bit of resistance or disagreement I ask that you carefully examine your reason for why you feel that way. This is not an attack on people who choose to consume animal products, again, they are just my reasons for choosing not to. 

Animal Ethics 

Let's just get straight to the point here, an animal had to die in order for you to consume it. I don't think I've ever met a vegan or vegetarian that didn't have this as a reason on their list. To tell you the truth, I cannot stomach the fact that I would be eating the flesh of an animal that was likely born on a farm whose sole life purpose was to be sent to slaughter to fulfill my human desire. 

I think we've all seen videos of what factory farms look like, and if you haven't I encourage you to begin your research and take a look for yourself and have seen the conditions these animals live in. The short period of their time on this planet is a miserable one and for what? It has now been shown over and over again that there is no need for us to eat animals. We can not only survive but thrive, on diets that do not have animal meat in them. 

Even if you go the "ethically sourced" route where they kill the animals in "humane ways," is it still considered humane to kill something that doesn't want to die? It's not like a cow came up to the farmer and said: "Thank you for giving me this large, open pasture to live in. Today's a good day, I'd like to become your burger now." It is survival of the fittest out there, it is ingrained into our very being to survive and this goes for animals as well. 

For every steak, every chicken breast, every fish fillet man had to exert his power over another living, feeling being. It brings me to tears thinking about this topic and it's why I'm so passionate about being vegan. I love all animals, not just ones viewed as pets, so harming one - taking a calf away from his mother so I can drink his milk instead, killing a chicken or any animal - for my own benefit is not something I could ever go back to doing. 

The Earth's Ecosystems and Conservation 

I love animals so much, I first got my associate degree in an animal-related field where conservation and protecting ecosystems and species was something of high importance. So it comes as no surprise when I also found this to be a major reason that played into me becoming a vegan. 

A meat-based diet is simply not sustainable. There are only so many resources available to us on this planet and so much of them go into producing the meat and dairy products that stock our grocery store shelves. There is so much land needed for this industry and that means cutting away at major earth ecosystems to have available farmland. Therefore, not only are we causing deforestation, cutting down trees which also help to keep our planet cool fighting against global warming, but we're also taking away the homes of thousands of animal species which is a factor of the rapid increase of extinction rates. 

Also, so much of that land is used to grow the food and grain that is needed to feed the animals. Meat is incredibly expensive and people of poorer incomes across the globe do not eat a lot of meat for this reason. If we produced as many grains and plant food for human consumption on this planet as we do for the animals, we'd be able to do so much more towards world hunger rates. 

Personal Health

I never really knew how bad my body used to feel until I understood what it felt like for it to run the way it should! I grew up eating meat and dairy at nearly every meal and as a young adult in my early 20's I seemed to always have stomach problems. Digestion issues, bloating, sluggishness after meals - this is not how you are supposed to feel after eating. 

The energy I feel from eating a fully plant-based diet is honestly incredible. Different foods have different properties and provide different benefits and eating a mixture of all of these is a sure way to optimal health. But this isn't news, we've been hearing this for years. "Eat your fruits and veggies," "The more colors on your plate the better." So someone knew what they were talking about, but over time our minds have been tricked into thinking that a meal isn't complete unless there's an animal-based protein next to our mashed potatoes. 

I sleep better, I am able to work out better with more endurance, and if I push myself too far I heal faster too. I attribute the fact that I was able to climb Machu Picchu without any sleep the night prior (another story, for another time) to the fact that I was fueled up, ready to go with life-supporting plants. 

Veganism is the ultimate form of compassion - compassion for animals, compassion for the planet we live on, and compassion for ourselves and our health. I have seen great improvements in my life and I am so much more happy eating a plant-based diet. I will never go back to consuming anything that is an animal by-product because there simply is no need for it. Everything that I need to survive I can get in the form of plants and no animal will be harmed or exploited on my behalf.

I understand the views in this post may not line up with everyone but if you've given it a read I truly thank you!

Take care my friends - Namaste 

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