Why did I become vegan? My vegan story is a very interesting and unconventional story.
I've been a car-free activist for over 20 years. I never had a car or bought gasoline. My ego & personality were centered around the belief that cars are the worst thing for the environment... ever.
In 2000 I read the book "Fast Food Nation" and it opened my eyes not only to the horrors of fast food, but to the industry of animal slaughter and I was disgusted. I knew that I could never kill a living thing, so the idea of paying others to do so felt hypocritical. From then on I ate only plants and cheese.
It took another 14 yrs before I met a vegan social group and encountered people who absconded from ALL animal products. I learned more about dairy and found myself, for a few weeks, buying cheese but also thinking about what happens to the cows. It didn't take long from that point to decide that I simply couldn't support that habit and gave it up.
But the REAL kicker happened when I came across this Eco-Science Quiz.
While I knew that both were bad for the environment, my own bias told me that OF COURSE cars had to be worse. But the source claimed otherwise (ie. livestock's long shadow). This was tough for me to digest (no pun intended) so I decided to research it. The search extended through a whole year of studying climate science and the life cycle emissions of many different aspects.
Eventually I was forced to accept, to my surprise, that not only are domestic animals *more* harmful for the environment... they cause THREE TIMES as much greenhouse gas emissions then all the world's transportation.
So I spent another year writing a thesis on this which you can read here: Climate, Cows and Cars!
Since becoming vegan I've looked at both vegan and car-free camps in a whole new light. As a car-free activist I was judgmental of anyone who drove (still am). Now I see vegans who are judgmental and critical of non-vegans... and I see a copy of myself with regards to drivers. In other words, I'm able to see the criticism through different eyes. This is why I wrote the essay, to help both vegans and car-free activists understand the importance of the other group's perspective.
What does "vegan" mean to you?
To me, the idea of 'veganism' means more then simply avoiding animal products. It means living a life of intention towards no harm. It means looking at every choice and purchase with a focus on the implications to human-rights, animal-rights, and the living world. (this is why I don't buy products such as electronics assembled by slave labour, I don't use devices that cause pollution like lawn mowers, I keep the house heat as low as possible, and I build furniture from reclaimed materials)
How long have you been vegan?
I haven't kept close track, but I think that I finally stopped buying dairy about 2yrs ago.
What first inspired you to go vegan?
A group of friends who host vegan potlucks and accepted me without judgement.
What resources (people, books, blogs, films, etc.) helped you with your transition to veganism?
Nutritionfacts.org with Dr. Michael Greger MD, Cowspiracy (note: this is currently streaming on Netflix), Emily of BiteSizedVegan and research for my essay.
Were your friends & family supportive of your choice to go vegan?
Some of my friends were, and some were ambivalent.
If they were not, how did you cope with that?
I'm sad to say that with regards to those people heavily into animal consumption, there's been a distinct rift, similar to what I experience with those who drive regularly.
Are they supportive now?
I believe that the most common response (not only with non-vegans but also with those addicted to gasoline) is, "that's great that YOU do it, but *I* never could".
What do you love about being vegan?
I feel healthier, I eat more vegetables, and my conscience is clear.
What inspires you to stay vegan?
As Will Tuttle states, "Personal choice shouldn't involve victims."
What challenges you as a vegan?
Nothing really. I'm very lucky in that most animal products never appealed to me. Even before I went vegetarian/vegan I preferred food that didn't have meat or eggs in it.
Are you a vegan activist? If yes, what form does that take?
I do some online activism, and I talk to people about it.
What is your favorite vegan food or recipe?
Green smoothies. I try to have one every day. 2-3 pieces of fruit, and a handful of greens with cinnamon and ground flax seed.
Feel free to tell us the restaurant where it's served, send a picture. Whatever you like.
I don't eat in restaurants because I live without money. All of my food is home prepared.
What advice would you give to new or wanna'be vegans?
Talk to people who know about veganism and can speak with compassion. They can help with healthy food choices.
What gives you hope for the future?
In all honesty, I don't have hope for the future.