Why Being A Vegan Is More Than Just A Food Choice

Why Being A Vegan Is More Than Just A Food Choice

"Don't you miss chicken?"
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It’s a continuous joke between my family and friends that I believe animals are nicer than humans. Well maybe not so much of a joke, but my actual belief…

Since I was little, animals have always had a special place in my heart. Yes, I rescue crickets that are trapped in my basement, and no I do not find that to be weird. For me, being helpless is one of the worst feelings in the world. Whether it is being victimized for solely being born, or simply being unable to pay the rent this month, that helpless feeling can really knot up in the pit of ones being.

The reality: Farmed animals feel this everyday.

As a mother cow watches the calf she just birthed be ripped from her and shoved into a confined crate, where she will be injected with dairy inducing hormones and used until she cannot produce anymore, she cries. Actual tears fall down her face.

A baby piglet looks back at her mama as she is being dragged to her death to be mass- produced as bacon. She squeals with anguish knowing she will never live a day in peace, yet her cries are ignored. They are heard, but they are ignored.

As an advocate for animal welfare, I am constantly researching and staying up to date on current legislation and what policies are in need of reform. Recently, the FBI has added animal cruelty to its list of Class ‘A’ felonies, alongside homicide and arson. This is a huge win, and a great step in the right direction for animal protection.

However, there is also an undeniable contradiction: farmed animals. We will rightfully put an individual in jail for choking a dog to death, or setting fire to a cat. But we ignore those who throw calves against a cement wall until they bleed to death, because we need dairy?

Considering all of this, it is no surprise that I became a vegetarian. However, it was not until I learned the reality of the dairy industry as well, that made me transition to vegan. I was always told that animals were not hurt for dairy production, and I am still ashamed of my ignorance in believing that.

Being vegan is not hard. On a daily basis I receive comments/questions such as: “But don’t you miss chicken?” “I could never live without cheese.” However, when you love all animals, not just those who are considered companions, it is very easy. These animals’ lives mean more to me than the convenience of ordering chicken wings with friends; so therefore, no I do not miss it.

To anyone who is thinking about going vegan and worries about the social aspects of it, or wondering what to cook for a family, there are a tremendous amount of resources available. All you have to do is decide that your morals are greater than your appetite, and your stomach should not be a burial ground for other living beings. That the cow that is being raped daily for your dairy intake, deserves a life free from pain and suffering. Veganism is a lifestyle change, and arguably a movement. If the power lies within the people, then I will do everything in my power to end farmed animal suffering.

Cover Image Credit: ASPCA

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To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

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When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

SEE ALSO: They're Not Junkies, You're Just Uneducated

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

Cover Image Credit: http://crashingintolove.tumblr.com/post/62246881826/pieffysessanta-tumblr-com

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This Earth Day, Talk About Climate Change Instead Of Just Admiring The Flowers

Earth Day is about more than planting trees.

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I'm going to be honest with you: this article was hard for me to write. It took a heavy dose of reality and a lot of deep thought for me to form the right words regarding climate change. Climate change is a large and complex issue with many different sides and arguments. No matter what words people write or say, there will always be one person who will deny the scientific evidence of climate change. There will be people who will continue to believe that climate change is a conspiracy theory and others who simply believe that it is a thing the world should not be concerned about, that it is supposed to happen.

We need to talk more about climate change. I never realized how little I was educated about climate change until I got to college. During the first semester of my freshman year, I took a plant biology course. It's pretty customary that with biology comes talk of climate change. However, the talks we had in this course about climate change were like nothing I really ever have heard before. We talked about the overwhelming effects climate change has already had and will have on our planet if we do nothing. More importantly, though, we talked about what would happen to our planet if we took action and initiative to slow the effects. Our professor showed us the documentary "Before the Flood." This powerful piece highlights the causes of climate change, what initiatives are being put in place throughout the world, and what we need to do as a human race to slow the effects of climate change.

Not only did we talk about climate change in my biology class, but we also talked about it in my English class. In the past, issues with the Earth were only discussed in science classes like biology or geology. The fact that climate change is now a topic of discussion in humanity courses like English is something to make note of. It shows that we are coming to realize how we have been lacking as a society to discuss our changing climate and its consequences.

Some of the consequences are impending, and some are already occurring. According to the documentary I mentioned earlier, "Before the Flood," our world has already seen a 1.5 degrees Celcius increase in temperature because of carbon pollution. This may not seem like a big deal, but these few degrees have led to the ice caps melting at a rate that will make them disappear within the next decade. Along with this, sea levels have been rising three times faster than two decades previously. We have also seen the oceans becoming more acidic, likely to double over the next century, which means more and more marine life will be killed. The jet streams, which are the air patterns that typically drive where weather patterns will head, are becoming trapped, which leads to more polar vortexes and extreme weather. Going along with weather patterns, hurricanes are becoming more intense because of the warming ocean waters, and because there has been a 70 percent increase of downpours in the northern United States, rivers are more likely to flood. The opposite, however, is happening to some other rivers. There are rivers out in the Western part of the United States, like the Colorado River, that are disappearing because of droughts and increasing temperatures.

These are the effects we are already seeing just in the United States. In the future, we can expect to see even more droughts throughout the entire world, not just in the Sahara or deserts. Acute diseases, like asthma and allergies, will become deadly due to air quality worsening. Not to mention, diseases we haven't seen in centuries, like the bubonic plague, may resurface. Heat waves will become more prominent, which will lead to even more droughts. Access to food and water will likely decrease due to a third of the farmland that produces meats, vegetables, grains, etc. being dried out by the end of the century. The wildfires we are experiencing out in the Western United States are likely to become more uncontrollable, causing the government to spend more tax dollars toward fixing these natural disasters. Economic collapses, cities becoming flooded, wars and conflicts, species and ecosystems disappearing... the list of what we could encounter in the future goes on and on.

All of these effects seem terrifying, and they are. From what you just read, it may look like our world is doomed and that there is no hope, yet there is! By talking more openly about climate change, we can help slow or prevent these scary effects. To help our environment, we don't have to do big elaborate tasks. We can do little things, like recycling, walking or biking to a destination instead of driving, eating more chicken or turkey instead of beef, using less plastic, and/or taking shorter showers.

We haven't been talking enough about climate change, but that is changing. The effects of climate change are scary; it puts an idea in our head that makes it seem that there is no hope for our future. But because of conversation and discussion, there is hope for our world. The Paris Climate Agreement has had top leaders of various nations coming together and discussing solutions for climate change and for our planet.

Try to have more conversations with your friends, your family, or classmates about climate change. It may seem awkward to talk about climate change out of nowhere (and it kinda is), but try to incorporate it into discussions somehow. Encourage others to take cleaner practices to their daily routines and encourage them to keep the conversation going with people they know. Little things like talking to others can, and will, make all of the lasting difference for our world.

Make this Earth Day more than just a day where you look at the pretty trees and flowers. Make it a day where you work to save the pretty trees and flowers around you.

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