My Vegan Story
We all have a story to tell. The decisions and choices we make throughout our lives make up who we are, and shape our lives, for better or worse. For me personally, one of my better and more life-altering decisions I’ve made has been to choose a vegan lifestyle. I did not come to be vegan all at once and it was only a few years ago that I made this lifestyle transition.
Instead of changing overnight, I eased into veganism, giving up meat at first, which was fairly easy for me as I was never a huge meat eater. I then began cutting out eggs, dairy and fish as I continued to learn more about the horrors of each industry. To be honest, giving up dairy was not as easy at first for me, as I was a major cheese-aholic! But luckily, I have discovered some amazing plant based cheeses. So, no problem there!
When I think back to my childhood, I have always gravitated to animals and to those who do not have a voice. It was always the animals and the underdogs that resonated with me in every movie I saw or book I read. It was always the animals who I felt great compassion for and who I wanted to save. I mean seeing Bambi’s mother die was absolutely soul crushing for me, and it still is when I watch it with my niece.
From when I basically started to walk, I wanted to adopt every single animal I saw through the windows of a pet store. Or help the homeless people that I would encounter on the streets of New York, when I was in the city with my parents as a young girl. I would see beautiful and sad souls, and could see the loneliness in their eyes. It broke my heart every time.
As a five year old girl, I remember being in the car, driving by a dairy farm where I saw fields of grazing cows and asking my mother whether the cows were treated well, if they were hurt during the process of making milk. I was also the kid at the dinner table who pretended to eat my meat but was secretly feeding it to the dog under the table. I could never get past seeing my father cut up a roasted rack of lamb and seeing the blood pool on the cutting board.
Intuitively, I knew at this very young age that using animals for our own means didn’t feel right.
In looking back, I was a ‘born vegan’ as I believe most children are. If children knew the heartbreaking truth about slaughterhouses or the meat, dairy, egg, and fish industries, there is no way they would choose to eat animal products or drink milk. Unfortunately the majority of us grow up in a meat and dairy-centric world, and so it becomes a repetitive cycle.
Most of us have grown up with the idea that meat is necessary and meat is typically the main focus of our meals. People do the best with what they know and what they’ve been taught. Our parents do their best with what they know and work to feed us food they think is healthy and life sustaining, which usually involves meat and other animal foods.
I remember as a child, we had a second freezer that was dedicated solely to storing meat. It was normal back then. And the gallons of milk we all drank at each meal, well that was normal too. So, because most of us are indoctrinated from a very young age, we just don’t give much thought as to how the “food” on our plates came to be or “who” we are actually eating. This is true for the majority of us.
And so it was for me, for much of my life I never really considered where my food came from or delved more deeply into how meat and dairy (or anything I ate) was produced. I really didn’t consider what (or who) I was putting into my body at all. Which is a terrifying thought when you think about it. We all owe it to ourselves to know what we are putting into our ‘one and only’ bodies. It is our health after all!
Despite my great compassion for animals, I was very good at squashing any negative thoughts about what happened to the animals when they were being turned into packaged pieces of meat. For much of my life, I just didn’t think about it. I swept any negative thoughts that arose under the proverbial carpet.
Even when my younger brother, the philosophical one with alternative, radical (at the time) thoughts and who always questioned the status quo, decided to go vegan as a stand against factory farming, I didn’t fully understand what he was talking about. He was in college and I was already out in the world, so I wasn’t around him all the time, but he was the first person that I personally knew who chose a vegan diet. And at the time, it seemed radical. But the seeds were being planted in me as I watched him make different choices and choose a vegan way of living.
So, what was it that got me to eventually go vegan? What was my turning point? This is the question I get asked most. There are many reasons to go vegan, and I will explore these reasons further in future posts, but for me it was about saving the animals.
It was 2015, a transitional year for me in many ways – temporarily relocating to another city, renovating a house and dealing with some personal stuff. I began following some animal rights and vegan accounts on Instagram that sparked something in me. The videos, photos and heartbreaking words that I read had such an impact on me that I immediately stopped eating all meat. This propelled me to further investigate where meat, dairy, eggs, leather, etc come from.
I was a sponge, reading and researching everything I could, watching eye-opening documentaries such as Earthlings, Cowspiracy, and What the Health among others. It was like going down the rabbit hole of information, uncovering the truth of animal agriculture, an industry that is completely shrouded in secrecy, that keeps the public in the dark about the horrifying details and nightmarish realities of what the animals go through to become “our food”.
During this year, I experienced many synchronicities (or coincidences) that continued to steer me in the direction of veganism. Any time in my life when I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and made big changes, I find synchronicities (or as I think of them, soul nudges) seem to occur with some regularity. If you’re open to these synchronicities, they serve to help connect the dots of what our souls are trying to tell us.
For me, whether it was meeting a new person who happened to be vegan or reading a passage from a book about animal ethics that seemed to fall off a shelf in front of me or hearing a touching lyric from a song on the radio….there were many things bubbling up and “speaking to me” at this time. Like whispers in my ear, I was being asked to look at my life and see how I was living out of alignment with what my soul was telling me.
So upon learning many (too many) heartbreaking truths about the plight of the animals and our planet, I began making many changes in my own life. After deep diving into research and learning that billions upon billions of sentient animals (many are just babies) are bred and born every year into a terrible system of violence and slaughter for the sole purpose of eating and using their bodies, I could no longer partake in this.
I could no longer participate in consuming the flesh and bodily fluids of innocent, sentient animals, animals that are just like us, that want to live and not suffer and die in nightmarish slaughterhouses.
In essence, my choice to be vegan was and is for ethical reasons. Around this time, I began spreading awareness through my own Instagram page, @GreenVeganista to help others understand the truths that I was uncovering, which has led to writing this blog.
I believe everyone has the right to knowledge and to make informed choices about what they’re buying. I also hope to demystify what it is to be vegan, a compassionate way of life that benefits the animals, our planet, our health and more.
With any change, there is always something new to learn. An aspect of veganism that was eye opening to me is fashion. Aside from what we eat, what we choose to wear has many consequences – for the animals and for the environment. Having worked in the fashion industry for a portion of my life, I never thought very deeply about where leather, wool and other materials came from before I became vegan.
It should seem obvious, but if you’re not involved on the factory side of things, it is easy to remain detached from how leather is created for example. Billions of animals suffer horrendously and die terrible deaths, sometimes being skinned alive for the leather industry.
Of course, the cruel fur industry is something that has been getting a lot of attention lately, with more and more designers, stores and cities thankfully banning fur. The same needs to happen with leather. And seemingly innocuous items such as wool sweaters and down jackets – these also involve torturing innocent animals on a mass scale. This all needs to change. With so many sustainable and cruelty free materials on the market, there is no need to wear cruel animal products.
This journey towards veganism has been profoundly soul altering for me. I’ve been shedding old, outmoded ways of thinking and being, and embracing new, healthier ways of living in this beautiful world. Everything feels more connected now.
We are all connected….to each other, to other sentient life, to the universe. We each have incarnated with a special purpose in this lifetime. And we can each make a difference for a better world by speaking and living our truth.
My greatest hope is for a compassionate, non-violent, vegan future, one in which no innocent, sentient beings are harmed, one that nurtures this beautiful yet fragile planet of ours for future generations to come, and one that provides healthy, plant based and sustainable food for all beings. It is the only way forward.
The future is vegan!
“Let us remember that animals are not mere resources for human consumption. They are splendid beings in their own right, who have evolved alongside us as co-inheritors of all the beauty and abundance of life on this planet” ― Marc Bekoff