Over two years ago, I decided to change my lifestyle and eating habits by going vegan. I stopped eating eggs, dairy, and meat to better my health, reduce my carbon footprint and because in my heart it made sense.
What exactly does it mean?
I think many people are confused about what it means to live a vegan lifestyle and I'd like to help clarify that by sharing with you what it means to me.
I don't want to speak on behalf of the vegan community, but I think the feelings are mutual between us of all and will try my hardest to be unbiased and see all sides of the spectrum.
Veganism is a lifestyle and not a diet. Celebrities like Beyoncé have tried eating vegan for 22 days. In a way, it's good promotion for our community because it gives people the incentive to at least try not eating meat and dairy because someone famous did it. The problem with this is people assume it's something you could do one day and stop another. The point of being vegan is changing your way of living so that you try to not contribute to unnecessary cruelty towards animals.
The goal is to try living as ethically as possible. We care about the wellbeing of others including animals because we understand that they don't deserve to die for temporary satisfaction. It's a form of exploitation and every time you buy a product that contains any animal by-product, including clothing and accessories, it creates a demand for more cruelty. We want to stop this type of injustice towards animals who are sentient and we do that with our dollar.
We also realize that favoring one animal over the other is wrong. If you love animals you don't eat them, otherwise, it's not real love. You only love them to a certain point and sometimes that's not someone's fault. We've become desensitized and detached from understanding that a pig is bacon. We use different words for animal flesh and if that sounds gross it's because it kind of is.
We understand that there's a serious health issue that comes with eating meat, dairy, and eggs. Movies like "Cowspiracy," and most recently, "What The Health" are showing people that there's a correlation between the diseases we have and what we eat on a daily basis. It gives people the chance and choice to rethink what they thought they knew about food and make a positive impact on their life.
Going vegan isn't easy, but it also isn't hard or impossible. Anything you start, whether it's working out or eating consciously, will be different and challenging but we also look at the future and think of the benefits we'll gain.
There are so many benefits you can experience by changing your eating habits. I'm not saying you need to give it all up in one night, but education is key when you're trying to better yourself. Learning and listening rather than criticizing can allow you to make a better decision and what you want to do. I think if anyone's interested in trying a vegan lifestyle should take the time to learn why it would be worth to give it up. Seeing things with your own eyes rather than just listening to other opinions is the only way you'll be able to make a conscious decision about changing your lifestyle and eating habits.
Learning where you can get your protein from, since that's always a big question, along with where to get iron from plant-based sources is extremely important. You want to be healthy! Eating enough, and of the right foods is also important and crucial for your body. You can be an unhealthy vegan too.
The greatest part about this lifestyle is how many substitutes there are. From Ben and Jerry's dairy-free ice cream to veggie burgers that taste just like meat, and cheesy pizza, it's there for you.
It's not just a lifestyle change, it's also a mental change. Being conscious of your actions allows you to realize that what you do impacts not just you but, someone else. Is it worth it? Is it right? They're important questions that we should all be asking ourselves on a daily basis, even if it's not related to what you eat, but it's a good start.