Many people ask me how have I been so successful in my transition to veganism overnight. Usually big changes require small baby steps to finally achieve. First off I’d like to say that in general I am an all or nothing person, and I knew if I didn’t wake up the next day and clean everything out of my fridge it would be more difficult for me to make the change. Not everyone is like this, and that is totally fine too. But the biggest piece of advice I could give to someone looking to make ANY sort of lifestyle change would be to define and hone into your “WHY”.
Your “WHY” is the reason for your change. It is the reason you believe that these changes will help you achieve your “WHY”. It is by-far the strongest driving force into making any lifestyle change. No one likes to be told to do something or change something. When I was younger it felt like I would make it a point to not do something if someone arbitrary told me to. Unless I had a good reason to do something I thought to myself, why should I? The truth is that no one can force you to care about something. You find your own reason to do so. Power to make positive changes in your life comes when the individual can find their own special reason for these changes apart from pressure from other forces.
There are many “WHY”s for becoming vegan/plant based. Here are the top three:
- Health and wellness
My “WHY” for becoming vegan is for the health and wellness aspect. I was dealing with some health problems that I wanted nothing to do with. Dealing with health is scary. We as a society take our health for granted, and with good reason. We are not taught at a young age that caring for ourselves is something we should all do, whether it be through nutrition or fitness, we are bombarded with advertisements for the total opposite. At a very basic level I wish we were taught how to shop for produce, how to prep and cook our meals, build our plates, how to eat and when, amongst so many other things. Teaching children these basics can work to empower them on their quest of wellbeing. On a even more basic level, learning these things at a young age encourages us to take charge of our lives and look after ourselves. When I first started learning how to cook I was paralyzed by the seemingly million steps I have to do in order to complete a simple meal, and only though pushing through did I learn the basics and how to overcome my fear of doing something “wrong”. A picture of the food pyramid is not enough. We need to know WHY we need what he need and how other cultures use their foods as fuel.
Cooking is such a basic skill. We have reduced our desire to cook down to food subscription boxes and takeout because we just so damn lazy. I wholly believe that this is due to the lack of education. Not to say that these mechanisms for getting food on the table are shameful, but more and more I am noticing that young adults around my age who are stepping into the world of living alone and explore, cooking is put on the back burner. Cooking does not have to be complicated, and I argue that it is more nourishing and fulfilling than buying out.
I digress, can you tell I’m passionate about this topic?
2. Climate change
The science shows that factory farming and livestock is the number one cause of increasing green house gases to date. The meat production production that has ramped up to match increasing demand in our modern world has wreaked havoc on our climate. Deforestation, rising sea levels and increased carbon monoxide levels have been linked to the overproduction of animal derived food sources, like meat and dairy. Many vegans and plant based eaters switch over to the diet to combat the looming fear of climate change on our future generations. Popular documentaries like Cowspiracy and Seaspiracy have suggested that reducing or completely eliminating consumption of animal based food sources is a crucial step in reducing our carbon foot print and effect on the environment.
There is an amazing tool, the “Vegan Calculator” that can be found at https://thevegancalculator.com/, that illustrates the impact you’ve had on the environment since going vegan on a variety of climate related factors. According to the website, in just one year of being vegan you save 401,500 gallons of water, 10,950 sqft of forestry, 14,600 lbs of grain, 7,300 lbs of co2 and 365 animal lives. How amazing is that?
3. Animal justice and rights
It is a well known fact that in, especially factory farming, animals face horrific abuses from the time they are born to the time they make it to the slaughter house. There are no shortage of videos exposing these atrocities yet it still continues and grows each day.
Thomas Hobbes famously said, “the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” This pessimistic outlook of life is telling of the importance we put on animal rights. Truth of the matter is that we have not, as a society, deemed the life of animals, sentient beings, of equal importance to our own. I have to admit that this argument did not persuade me to go vegan the first time I encountered it. I shrugged it off an considered it the “circle of life”. Now that I have had time to reflect on its merits, I completely resonate with this argument. There is a significant degree of cognitive disassociation taught in our society, implicitly or explicitly, to shield us from the truth of factory farming. Many vegans I have connected with whom did not choose veganism for the animals have indicated that after a while, as you detach from the mainstream belief of what is considered food, liken to the argument that animals are sentient beings who do not deserve to die for our consumption. A certain higher level of consciousness swoops in as they step back and look at our food systems.
There can be arguments made that other types of farming do not contribute to the abuses of animals, such having your own animals or sustainable/regenerative farming. I think there is a space where farming practices can be altered to allow for improved qualities of life for these animals. This is my personal opinion and my view on this “why” but others argue there is absolutely no room for any argument of any kind. There are levels to being an animal rights activist, but the point remains that we must look to treating animals with dignity and respect despite our common belief that their existence is entirely for our consumption.
Wherever you fit in, your “why” is the most important thing that will keep you going as you embark on your journey as a vegan. Overtime, your ‘why’ will fade away into the background as you come to terms with the new lifestyle. I no longer have to remind myself that, no I can not have the cream dessert because its unhealthy, I just know it is and why it is, and I can happily wave goodbye to it. As you stand strongly on your “why”, your our friends and family will come to terms with your stance and respect your choices, and overtime you may find that they have more questions and curiosity around going vegan and making a healthy lifestyle change.