The Whys and Hows of My Veganism

by Gena on August 25, 2010

A few days ago, my friend Bitt left the following comment on my crushing post:

I have had a question since seeing you in VegNews. Do you feel that you identify more with the “healthy living” community or the vegan or raw community? I have to admit I assumed the former but then was sort of surprised to see you in VegNews because they come to veganism from more of the ethical sort of standpoint. I’d love to know your thoughts on it.

The evolution of my veganism is something I’ve touched on before, most notably in my Thanksliving post, wherein I spoke at length about how my veganism was morphing into a lifestyle, rather than a mere way of eating. I also touched on veganism and its impact on my habits as a consumer here. But it’s been a while since I talked at length about my motives for choosing a vegan lifestyle. So here’s the story:

I became a vegan mostly for health reasons. I was a longtime non-eater of red meat; I swore off the sirloin after a traumatic Bambi-watching experience in childhood. I ate fish and chicken frequently all through high school and college, but by the end of college my consumption was tapering off, and I was discovering tofu, soy cheese (which was, looking back, pretty icky–you can ask Chloe about how much she enjoyed my soy cheese while we were roommates after college graduation!), and grain/bean based meals.

At the same time as all of this, I struggled with a near crippling case of IBS, which had me incapacitated not infrequently during my college years. Finally, I saw a great GI in Manhattan who suggested I give up dairy to see how it affected my digestive health. The change was immediate and dramatic. At that point, I wasn’t eating much fish or poultry, I didn’t eat eggs (they’ve always given me migraines), and dairy was suddenly off the list, too. Translation: I was eating vegan by default. And since the prospect of embracing a vegan diet seemed not daunting, but rather like a logical extension of the tastes and habits I was already learning to love, I took the plunge. I’ve never looked back.

Since I started eating vegan, I’ve begun to live vegan, too. As I read more books about veganism, and as I surrounded myself more with men and women who were passionate about veganism not for its health benefits, but because of its ethical implications, I couldn’t help but discover that, for most vegans the world over, veganism is not only a way of eating. It’s a lifestyle choice and a world view that extends from food down to clothing, language, and ideological identification. I may not have begun my vegan journey with these things in mind, but they have been an absolutely crucial part of my veganism. Why? Simply put, because I find the ethical and environmental arguments highly compelling, especially in the world in which we live. I believe that the best and most efficient way for me to remedy the abuses of factory farming and the environmental destruction it causes is to cease my consumption of animal products altogether. And I’ve come to question the assumption that our use of animals for our own benefit is right.

This ideological shift has been gradual, and it’s still very much underway. Two years ago, I ate vegan, but still purchased new leather and used non-vegan cosmetics. Today, I buy only vegan personal care items, and I also only purchase vintage or thrift shop leather (yes, I am well aware that wearing any leather sets an example, and it’s not a vegan example; I’m still in the process of changing, and this is my intermediary step). This doesn’t mean that I don’t have many, many changes yet ahead of me. Just last week, I used the expression “killing two birds with one stone” on my blog, which Bitt quickly pointed out is a non-vegan idiom! And a few weeks ago, when I mentioned staycation with my Mom, I noted that she had requested we visit the Central Park zoo.

Um, newsflash Gena: vegans don’t do zoos! Or at least, most vegans don’t support zoos, rodeos, and circuses. It was reader Sara who pointed this out to me in an email. She asked, “you’ve written before about your vegan shoes, vegan skin-care products etc., so I would just love to hear your thoughts about other non-food aspects of veganism and where you draw your lines?”

The truth, Sara, is that I didn’t even think about the zoo remark when I wrote it. My mom used to love taking me, and since our staycation was self-consciously touched by nostalgia, it must have seemed like an obvious suggestion to her. Of course, had I taken a moment to sit down and think about it, I’d have realized immediately that zoos are incongruous with a vegan lifestyle. But my veganism is young, and there are many connections that I’m making. I don’t stress about them: I have a lifetime in which to figure out where I draw my lines. As far as zoos go, I can say honestly that they–along with horse drawn carriage rides and circuses–have always depressed me and made me sorry for the animals involved, so I’ve no problem whatsoever avoiding them. If I want to see and play with animals, I can visit a farm sanctuary. But I needed an “aha” moment to connect my experience and emotions with my ideological position, if that makes sense. I imagine that this process will be long and ever-evolving.

Does this change the fact that I connect my good health to veganism? No. But I don’t think that my lifelong commitment to veganism would be as strong if the philosophical component hadn’t crept in along the way. I do believe that veganism can be the world’s healthiest diet for many people. But I also believe that it is one of many ways to live healthily. I, for example, might easily have managed my IBS and felt better by eating high raw and mostly vegan, but with the occasional inclusion of fish or yogurt. I know many pescatarians or people who eat a mostly vegan diet who feel great. So for me, the impetus to be a vegan for the long haul, rather than as an experiment to manage a health complaint, has to come from some place that isn’t exclusively health-motivated. It has to come from a conviction that goes beyond my body and how I feel. I think that all motives for choosing vegansim are great–i.e,. I certainly don’t think that non-ethical vegans are “lesser” vegans. But I do wonder if perhaps their attachment to the lifestyle would be strengthened by an appreciation of all that veganism implies, rather than its dietary dictates alone.

There’s another piece of the puzzle that I haven’t mentioned yet, but it’s a tremendous part of why I feel strongly about veganism. If health and ethics are my first two sources of devotion to veganism, this is a crucial third: my psychology. As many of you know, I struggled with various shades of disordered eating for many years, starting at a young age. Even after I learned to eat more consistently, I battled constant temptations to restrict food, and indeed my weight dropped dangerously low more than a few times after what I’d call the “worst” period of my psychological struggle. Veganism offered me an escape from these cycles. There are many reasons why that’s true, but I’d say that, for someone like me, appreciation of food had to be accompanied by a sense that the food I was eating had deep nutritional and ethical purpose. I had to feel that it was good for me, yes, but also that it was good for the world. This was my answer to the guilt that had dominated my eating for so long.

To this day, veganism isn’t supported by most health care professionals as a means of overcoming disordered eating, and I understand why: it’s very easy for veganism to hide sublimated food fears and self-imposed dietary restrictions. I also think that many women who have struggled with eating disorders find that they can never again make certain foods “off limits” to themselves, and in this sense veganism isn’t right for them. But for me, it was the gateway into having the sort of joyous and appreciative relationship with food that I wish I’d had all along. It was my way of understanding that, when we eat, we can nourish ourselves and the world in which we live all at once.

So you see, Bitt, my veganism comes from many different places. Health was the catalyst, if we want to call it that, and I still feel that veganism (as well as the very high portion of raw foods I eat) grants me energy and great health. But I wouldn’t say that health is my main motive at this point. It isn’t what makes veganism attractive to me as something I’m committed to for life. My feelings about its ethical and environmental implications, as well as the great changes it has wrought on my psyche, are what keep me hooked.

The other day, I was asked in an interview if vegans eat coffee. I laughed. “Well sure,” I said. “You have to understand that veganism isn’t about being a health freak. It is, first and foremost, a position of compassion.” Putting aside the fact that I don’t think coffee is a huge health no-no (Matt!), my point was this: veganism goes far beyond what is or isn’t on your plate. I don’t know if this response would have come to me so readily two years or even a year ago. But I said it almost without thinking. If there’s any clear sign of how much my veganism has evolved, this was it.

What about you all? For my vegan readers, what keeps you committed to a vegan diet and lifestyle? Do you identify more with one than the other? What are your reasons for exploring veganism, and sticking to it? And to my non-vegan readers, what are the motives you tend to attribute to vegans and their choices?

xo

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{ 77 comments… read them below or add one }

mindy @ just a one girl revolution. August 25, 2010 at 12:12 pm

This is a fabulous post! Lots to think about – thanks!

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Ellie Di August 25, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this. I’ve had the “why vegan” conversation with a lot of people (and there was a complicated discussion about it on my blog that went south) and it can get way out of hand. I love how level-headed and down-to-earth you are about your choice. Heart!

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Ashley August 25, 2010 at 12:16 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed this!! Your writing is captivating. I love reading the story of what brought people to their current eating habits and how it has developed over the years. Where is chapter 2? I want to keep reading!

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Happy Herbivore August 25, 2010 at 12:17 pm

I’m going to send this to everyone who dares say people are not vegan if they are or were motivated by their health. Like you, it was health and vanity to some extent, that brought me to a vegan diet, but it is the ethics and environmental impact, that kept me vegan… which I was only exposed to once I’d adopted a plant-based diet for my health! The road we take to veganism is as varied as we are people — and once you’re there, you start to care about the other motivations, at least in my (and your) experience. Viva Vegan baby!

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Janessa August 25, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Gena, such a well-written post. The way you articulate your feelings and motivation inspires me.

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Fusami August 25, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I love this post! It flowed beautifully and just clicked. I went vegan rather early in the recovery process after an eating disorder, but not to cover up any habits. I had a moment of clarity where vegetarianism–and subsequently veganism–were so utterly logical. How could I have three dogs and desire to become a veterinarian while hypocritically consuming meat and subjecting factory-farm animals to terrible living conditions? Sure, I have come to appreciate the health benefits of being vegan, but I have never since felt the need to restrict my food intake. Vegan food is (usually, when done consciously) so nourishing and creative that cooking and eating has become an art to me and not a sin. However, I have also come to note how everything purchased, everything consumed has an effect and makes a statement. I have become a conscious consumer and influenced others to eat more vegan foods while reducing their consumption of meat, dairy, and eggs.

Sorry, this is getting long, but veganism helped me conquer disordered eating and change my way of living!

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Jess - The Domestic Vegan August 25, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Love this post, Gena! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It’s so cool to learn about your eating (and lifestyle) evolution.

Like you, my personal commitment to veganism comes from a place much deeper than health. I have actually thought about this more than a few times, and I always conclude that I am really HAPPY that I have such an ethical problem with consuming animals (and their secretions) because I honestly don’t know if the environmental & health reasons for being vegan would be enough to make me stick to it… Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely LOVE being vegan, and I can’t imagine being any other way. I love knowing that I am doing something great for the earth & for my health. I’ve also never felt healthier or happier. There are just so many wonderful reasons for being vegan! But sometimes it would be “easier” (in the short term, anyway, without thinking about the “bigger picture”) to not have to pack food for a weekend visiting family in the boondocks, or not having to eat before/after a wedding if a veg item isn’t being served, etc. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t AT ALL think any of the little inconveniences we face as vegans are worth NOT being vegan. I absolutely love this lifestyle & it’s incredibly rewarding. BUT, I can’t say that I would stick to my guns regarding my eating habits if it was JUST a way of eating for me. I guess I kind of correlate that line of thinking with someone who is on a “diet,” and we all know how often people eat unhealthy things even when they know it’s not the best choice. It’s so much deeper than that for me, and THAT is what keeps me committed.

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Maissa August 25, 2010 at 12:26 pm

This is such a wonderful post, and I can relate to it in so many ways. Although I am not a vegan, I aim to eat consciously and ethically. Although my initial interest in ‘real foods’ originated in my desire to lose weight, it has evolved in the last two years into something I feel incredibly passionate about.

Learning about my food and supporting sustainable agriculture and animal husbandry has become one of my greatest joys. I feel I can truly make a difference through it because I support small farms, I reduce my personal carbon footprint, and I do my best to educate others.

I believe people go vegan for all sorts of reasons. I personally was a vegan until I started finding sources of animal products that I believed were ethical and sustainable (and I have incredibly high standards). I do believe that no matter why people become vegan, those who remain so tend to find their motivation in the ethical motives. Being vegan is a challenge (and I eat vegan at most restaurants, so I know how it goes), and if you don’t have something you really believe in motivating you… It can be easy to give in an order eggs, or something with dairy etc.

Thanks again, as always, for your post. I really enjoy reading your thoughts.

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Lin August 25, 2010 at 12:31 pm

This may be on a tangent but as far as the zoo thing, I had my “aha” moment regarding keeping wild animals in captivity a few days ago when I had read about the latest trainer that was killed by an orca. A followup article was titled “How Many Trainers Have to Die Before We Realize Seaworld is Awful?(Jezebel.com)”

This was the third death caused by the same whale (a very public death at that) yet the whale is still being used in shows. As bad as I feel for the families affected, I am heartbroken for the whale.

After reading the article, I did some research on killer whales and I was amazed at how complex they are, not just in terms of their ability to learn but also their relationships with each other. Call me naive, but I was horrified at the discrepancy in lifespans between captured whales and their wild counterparts. The article stated that:
The lifespan of wild females averages 50 years, with a maximum of 80–90 years… Wild males live around 29 years on average, with a maximum of 50–60 years… Captive killer whale lifespans are typically significantly shorter, usually less than 25 years; however, numerous individuals are alive in their thirties, and a few have reached their 40s. In many instances, the lifespans of killer whales depend on the will of the animal (Wikipedia).

I was horrified by the last sentence. To put a living creature in such an unnatural environment for the sole purpose of human pleasure to the point where it may lose its will to live, is absolutely disgusting to me.

I had also read a comment where someone compared the life of a captured whale to that of someone who spends their entire lives in a mirrored cage. Honestly, who wouldn’t go crazy in such an environment?

Ok back to the original topic. I am inspired to stay vegan because I am at the point where I can’t imagine eating something that had a beating heart. As far as lifestyle goes, it is VERY hard for me to make the switch to vegan shoes and bags. A part of me keeps thinking that it’s ok for me to wear and carry leather as long as people keep eating meat– since leather is a byproduct of meat. However, I know it’s not entirely true. I am making baby steps though, as I have given up purchasing items with fur.

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rebekah (clarity in creation.) August 26, 2010 at 7:19 pm

hey girl – leather actually isn’t always a byproduct of meat. and pleny of animals aren’t actually dead before they’re skinned… eek! i didn’t know that until recently, and i will for sure NEVER buy a leather couch after that!

have you read Eating Animals? they go into it a bit in that book. i highly recommend it!

and thank you for the comment on whales… that’s ridiculous.

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Babs August 27, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Actually, the animals killed for their skins are different than the animals killed for their flesh. At the flesh factory the skins are discarded (or, you know, FED to the still living animals) and at the skins factory, the flesh is just thrown away :(

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Adventures in Veg August 25, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Hey Gena, I really love this post! I love that you come from a very non-preachy, open-hearted place. While most vegan/veg websites I read have a positive, open attitude, sometimes I am disheartened when I read about people being very high-and-mighty about their veganism and looking down on others. I don’t think that’s at all compassionate, and hardly encouraging. But when I read Choosing Raw, I feel inspired and motivated to eat well, and to eat consciously, and that is wonderful.
I eat a mainly vegan diet – I say mainly as I have been transitioning to vegan since January and 99% of the time I eat vegan, but occasionally I have a slice of my grandmother’s dessert or some dairy chocolate that I’ve been given as a gift, for ezample. On a day to day basis I eat and seek out vegan food & products. (I’ve been veggie for almost a year). So I don’t feel it’s fair to call myself vegan (though friends and others call me that). I feel that we all do our best and right now this is my best, but that doesn’t mean it won’t change. Like you, I came to this in a default way and then stayed for the ethical and health benefits.
Thanks for having such a lovely attitude and a passionate way of writing, it’s a pleasure to read your blog and I always come away knowing I’ve learned something from it! It encourages me to choose wisely and eat wisely and that’s a great thing.
A (@adventuresinveg on twitter)

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Lauren August 25, 2010 at 12:42 pm

This is hands down one of the best posts I have ever read. Thank you Gena!

I have to agree on so many points! I came to veganism mainly through my distaste of meat and dairy. They were just simply foods I didn’t enjoy eating. But then I started reading more and more into animal rights, and I think that’s what has made me stick around. I often question if I will be a life-long vegan, but all I have to think about is veal, and that thought breaks my heart so much that having ice cream will never be worth it.

Also, becoming vegan really helped me break through a lot of disordered eating. Maybe because it was the first time I felt a connection between myself and food?

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Joanna August 25, 2010 at 12:43 pm

I really enjoyed reading your post. I’m not a vegan or vegetarian anymore. (Being vegetarian made me sick for a long time, but that’s a side tangent) What this post does so well is point to personal evolution. You have had your reasons for choosing this lifestyle and you have your reasons now for sticking with it. You now recognize there is a long journey ahead of you and it’s not clear how it will all take shape. I love that you embrace that.

Anyone who reads this post, vegan or not has the opportunity to look at their own boundaries and choose what they are committed to and why. That’s what it’s done for me. Thank you.

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Gena August 25, 2010 at 12:54 pm

I am so happy that that’s what you took away from it, Joanna! That was most definitely the point. We’re all evolving, all the time.

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leslie August 25, 2010 at 5:53 pm

i love this comment! i think personal evolution is what healthy living is all about, and it’s important to recognize that within any category of eating (whether it be raw, vegan, or otherwise), there is always an individual approach, and that approach will always be in flux. we change as we mature, so why shouldn’t our approach to food change along that road? definitely my mantra when it comes to food- or life in general!

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Joanna August 26, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Thanks Leslie. :) What’s awesome is how much we can learn about ourselves in reaction to others’ posts and comments.

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Rachel August 25, 2010 at 12:48 pm

i wouldn’t say i’m 100% vegan yet as the mother feels at best when i eat my greek yogurt once in a blue moon, but i’m not an egg fan (smells like farts, gross texture) and i’m not much of a dairy fan, plus, i’ve been a HUGE animal lover since i was a fetus. i guess i’m a “loose” vegan, haha. the health reasons to go vegan are great, but for me personally i’ve chosen to follow a mostly vegan lifestyle as best i can for ethical reasons.

sometimes i get secondhand and thrifted leather or suede things, are they really any different than the faux stuff? it isn’t supporting the animal skin industry either way. i also go out of my way to avoid animal tested products, leapingbunny.org is great for that (cutest company name ever, yeah?)

i try not to fret if something i’ve unintentionally bought isn’t vegan, i think doing the best we can to be as cruelty free as possible adds up in the long run

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Rachel August 25, 2010 at 12:49 pm

i should also add that your blog entry was very informative and wonderfully written as well :D

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Sarah @Gluten-free tries Vegan August 25, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Great post!

When I considered beginning my vegan journey last summer it was primarily for health reasons. I have IBS, meat’s just too tough on my digestive system, I’m dairy intolerant and I was a former vegetarian so it made sense. However, I did this with the knowledge that to commit to it long term it had to be for ethical reasons also. This is why I called my blog “tries vegan”. It was the ethics of it that caused questions in my mind, surprisingly. This is because my Christian faith governs, to a large degree, my world view. And for many, it seems that their veganism dominates their world view (which I don’t have a problem with but don’t live by). So…

…Last summer I looked to the Bible a lot for what it says about food; I’m a theologian by training through and through. I was also seeped in the importance of hermeneutics so I think that not all the bible says can be taken as red. However, there was one passage in Genesis that stuck out to me: Genesis 9:1-5. Here, God explicitly blesses Noah for his faithfulness by saying that he can eat whatever lives and moves. BUT this is in the context of us looking after the environment and animals as we are stewards of His earth. I think that a lot of what the Old Testament says does not apply today which is why the New Testament is so important. And in the New Testament Jesus did not say anything about what we should and should not eat so I have only the Old Testament to go on. Therefore, whilst I’m not sure if I can say that it is morally wrong to eat animals, I do believe it is morally wrong to abuse them and eat them as a commodity. Therefore, my veganism is a stance against the abuse and greed of human beings towards animals.

Following from this, recently I have been debating whether or not to include eggs in my diet since my friend owns hens and loves them as pets. And since the hen just rejects those eggs that are not fertilised I’m not sure if I have any moral grounds in this instance (of course, I will not eat eggs from those hens that have been abused). This is my current internal debate.

Sorry, that was such a long reply! It’s just that your post is timely as I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. xxx

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Sarah @Gluten-free tries Vegan August 25, 2010 at 12:51 pm

PS I forgot to mention the role of conscience in morality and Christian faith but that would make the reply RIDICULOUSLY long.

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Daniel August 25, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Becoming a vegetarian was initially a way for me to fuel my eating disorder – I could eschew meat and use that as an excuse to consume less calories. As I learned more and more about animal practices and didn’t eat much meat, other than fish, I began to rethink why I stopped eating meat in the first place. I’m happy to say that it’s now for more environmental and ethical reasons than simple calorie restriction and though I don’t believe I could adapt to a vegan diet (I enjoy fish on rare occasions and I love eggs and yogurt) I enjoy living a vegan lifestyle in which I can promote the fair and ethical treatment of animals and the preserving of our planet.

I think anyone who makes a conscious effort to eat less meat or support fewer factories that destroy the environment and animals is doing their part to help out, whether they’re vegan or just a conscious-consumer making small changes in their life.
Thanks for sharing your point-of-view and story!

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Gracie August 25, 2010 at 12:56 pm

This is a great, well-written post. As a non-vegan, frequent meat eater, I must admit that I sometimes feel intimidated or looked down upon when I read other vegan blogs (that is definitely *not* a blanket statement because there are also many vegan blogs that I love and read often). But there is something about Choosing Raw that doesn’t intimidate me at all. After creeping all over your blog (yes, I admit it ;)) I came away feeling only…inspired. I can really sense your passion about living a vegan lifestyle, and I love that. I feel like there are so many things I can learn from you while still maintaining my personal healthy lifestyle, and that’s such a great thing to come away from a blog with.
Okay, swooning over! To sum that all up…THANK YOU! xoxo

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Gena August 25, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Gracie, this makes my day! I’m so happy you don’t feel judged here. Because you aren’t.

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molly @FuelHerUp August 25, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Great post, as always. I’m currently doing the vegetarian thing with eggs and a little dairy, but I have become vegan and may be again sometime soon. With vegetarianism, not eating meat just sort of happened, and now, almost 3 years later, I can honestly say I don’t miss a THING about meat. Seriously, nothing. I know some vegetarians who have to struggle and remind themselves of their commitment, but I was lucky and it just came to me naturally once I made the decision. Everything just feels right…health-wise and ethics-wise. Couldn’t be happier!

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JL Goes Vegan August 25, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Great, great, post. I became vegetarian for ethical reasons and then vegan for health reasons. And with that came knowledge and information which pushes me toward ethical vegan. It’s a journey. Thank you for sharing yours!

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Ricki August 25, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Wow, this topic obviously touches a nerve (well, many!) judging by the lengthy and thoughtful responses. My story goes a lot like yours–started because of IBS and changes that made me vegan by default anyway. And, like you, I’m still evolving on the journey (though you are definitely more “evolved” than I!) ;) The more I learn about living a fully vegan life, the more I like it. And it’s so wonderful that there are ambassadors like you for all the on-the-fence people out there. :)

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) August 25, 2010 at 1:27 pm

“It’s a lifestyle choice and a world view that extends from food down to clothing, language, and ideological identification”–Ok I posted last week about where I stand with my own veganism and we talked about this, too, but I feel like I am 99% or even 99.9% there in my diet and if trace dairy enters my diet, then so be it. For me, I am doing what I can, without causing personal stress to myself which is more detrimental than a tiny tiny milligram of dairy in my life I feel, but it brings up this conundrum about personal care products, clothing, household goods, etc.

I realize this may sound trivial, but when shopping for a family of 3 people from food to clothing to soap to shoes to whatever, I simply dont have the resources to buy the uber-specialty holistic personal care products. Nor, do I care to. Sound awful? Maybe. But it’s where I’m at today, with my own veganism.

Like you, I also came to veganism “by default” after being a longtime vegetarian, b/c of food allergies. However, the zoo thing…interesting b/c right at Easter Time this past year, there was a petting zoo for kids in our neighborhood and there was someone dressed up as the Easter Bunny and we took Skylar. But seeing the baby animals being “petted” and not too nicely by the hoards of kids made me realize that petting zoos are NOT cool. I wrote a huge huge post on it and how that experience helped me go from vegan for health reasons to also vegan for compassion. It was a really pivotal point in my LIFE JOURNEY that “little petting zoo.”

Interestingly I live across the street from the San Diego zoo and it’s a wonderfully beautifully maintained zoo…we dont go to it though. I am so on the fence. Is it wrong to not Show or expose my child to zoos? Who knows…

This is such a long comment b/c your post is so awesome and articulate. Thank you for writing it! And to Aimee for asking you about it!

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Angharad August 25, 2010 at 1:38 pm

This was a really thought provoking post. I feel like there is a lot of judgment of “alternative” lifestyles, especially in terms of diet. It’s really easy to make negative assumptions about the basis for peoples’ choices in what many read as a restrictive dietary choices/change. But as you’ve always stressed, veganism and raw foodism is about exploring and celebrating the possibilities of what you can add.

It’s great to hear a multi-faceted explanation of why you and veganism have become such fast and furious friends :)
I also feel that it’s indicative of most things that people are passionate about. You come to something through one route but as you learn more and delve deeper, more and more aspects and values of that choice are opened up to you and the more passionate you become.

Thanks for a great post!

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vegantickles August 25, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Love this post. When people as my husband and I why we are vegan, I tell them the truth….my brother passed 6 years ago from cancer and it made me really think about what we we eat and how it affects our bodies. People usually feel more compassion and then start saying things like: “I don’t eat that much red meat” or “I only eat chicken/fish.”

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Jess @ MTL Veggie August 25, 2010 at 1:59 pm

I really loved reading this post. Thank you for sharing this with us.
This reminds me of your “Labels” post- everyone has their own reasons for their lifestyle choice, and so long as these choices are healthy ones, no reason can be “more” right or wrong.
When I first began adopting a vegetarian diet, my parents were concerned, but as they learned that it made me happy and healthy, they realized that was all that mattered.

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Kenzie (HealthyPurpose) August 25, 2010 at 2:06 pm

really great post.

im “dabbling in vegan” because of the health benefits. Im not 100% and cant really be at this stage in my life but am trying to find my own way. I think veganism comes from a desire to LIVE: a better life for yourself and a better world for every creature.

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Kay August 25, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Great post especially for someone exploring being vegan…even just vegetarian for that matter. Lots to think about and I like how you express that it has been a process and an evolution wh/ I’m finding true for myself as well. Thanks for being honest, down to earth and not so vegan “righteous” about the whole thing, wh/ some people can be sometimes.

Cheers, Kay =)

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mrd August 25, 2010 at 2:27 pm

I loved this post, Gena; I can really sense your honesty and compassion. I especially love the way you describe an evolution in your beliefs. I think we sometimes force ourselves into an ultimate, entirely consistent ethical position, and this post reminds us that we can get to such a place gradually and organically.

For me, veganism allows me to live my ethics. I often shy away from living in ways consistent with other ethical positions I hold because of professional and personal costs. Someday I may feel more courageous and make other lifestyle changes, but for now, veganism represents a way of living ethically and authentically. I don’t believe in the mistreatment and slaughter of animals, and so I don’t consume them. Simple as that.

I also wanted to say a belated thank you for your Bronx Garden post! It was one of the most inspiring things I’ve read in recent history.

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melissa @ the delicate place August 25, 2010 at 2:53 pm

i admit that in the past i had thought vegans were out of their mind…until i began having a few GI problems of my own. they waxed and waned until very recently when i had to go to the doctor for it (this is very recent as in 2 weeks ago). over the last 6-8mos i’ve been digging deeper into blogland and reading about health, personal success stories etc. not because i was suffering from a bad case of body image but because i wanted to live fully and feel my very best! i am dairy/gluten free but still consume meat products. i do so minimally and as responsibly as i can (ala i know my farmer!).

i admire your courage to share your story in detail and i loved reading it! i know that i can at least eat tasty meals because of your recipes (i steal them all the time!). who knows, maybe someday i will feel the call to veganism myself! never say never :)

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Andrea August 25, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Gena,
I’ve always appreciated your completely non-judgmental attitudes towards your non-vegan readers. I think a lot of vegans are so extreme in their viewpoints that they alienate many otherwise receptive people. (E.g., someone who objects to exterminating disease spreading rats and mice –uh, excuse me?)

Also, I think you acknowledge (as does Jonathan Safran Foer) that you can care about animal welfare and environment and still not be a vegetarian. Lots of people eating less meat is a good thing, too.

People are often perplexed by my dietary choices and assume I’m a vegan because I mostly eat vegetables, most of the time. I usually just explain that I’m not a complete herbivore, but not a carnivore either. I’ve been a vegan. Several times. Every time, I broke down and ate the cheese, the shrimp or the omelet because I really really like those things. The substitutes gross me out much more than the real thing. I eat them less often than many people and I seek out more ethical options for moral reasons, but “either or” “black/white” dietary regimes don’t tend to work for me. That said, I seek out non-leather clothing goods and purchase vegan cosmetics. For me, a traditional family celebration that serves ethically raised meat is more of a justification for killing an animal than a new pair of shoes or a lipstick.

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MarathonVal August 25, 2010 at 3:11 pm

I think we should be proud of every good choice we make, instead of berating ourselves for the ‘so-so’ or ‘not so good’ choices we occasionally make. I’m extremely proud of myself for the fact that my diet is 100% vegan, and there’s nothing more discouraging than having omnivore friends point out that I’m not a “real” vegan because I wear leather running shoes.

Thank you for this post which reminded me to feel empowered for the decisions I make!

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bitt August 25, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Thanks for your response! I still have more questions for you but I’ll try to spread them out. I appreciate your writing about this because your readers do vary in their dietary approaches.

I really resonated with these lines: “I think that all motives for choosing vegansim are great–i.e,. I certainly don’t think that non-ethical vegans are “lesser” vegans. But I do wonder if perhaps their attachment to the lifestyle would be strengthened by an appreciation of all that veganism implies, rather than its dietary dictates alone.” For me, the ethics are what keeps me going because it’s hard sometimes to care enough just about yourself. It’s why I know my veganism is life-long but my commitment to raw is continually being questioned, and I don’t hold myself as strictly to it.

Thanks for your courage in posting about this!

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Alayna August 25, 2010 at 3:35 pm

What a gorgeous post! I love your non-judgemental view of non-vegans. I think veganism is somewhere I’m headed toward with my diet. I’ve cut my meat and dairy consumption in half this year, but the temptation to beat myself up over not cutting it out completely is something that I still deal with. Right now, I’m trying not to worry so much about it; the stress from worrying about every portion of meat consumed can be just as unhealthy as the food itself. So for now, while I’m still learning how to be healthier and more compassionate, I’m trying to be proud of the changes I HAVE made. I AM making a difference with my choices. I AM reducing suffering every time I choose the veggie burger over the beef burger. So, thank you for showing me that healthier living is a process and one that doesn’t have the same “perfect” result for everyone.

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Laura August 25, 2010 at 3:37 pm

This is a great distillation of your journey, Gena! I have slowly moved towards veganism simultaneously from the perspectives of health, animal suffering, and the environment. Health and disordered eating played a significant role, but it is suffering and the environment that continue to press me towards a more complete veganism; I have found vibrant health in spite of occasional cheese and fish. Those motivations have led me to create a more ethical diet- to buy my non-vegan foods from farmers markets and top quality organic producers committed to animal welfare. I am absolutely still “in progress” in this domain and the pleasure I derive from animal products (primarily cheese) and my disordered history suggest to me that my destination may be very nearly vegan but never vegan. To me, it is the ethical implication of my food choices that matter, not whether those choices end up aligning 100% with a vegan diet.

I am very curious about your discussion of zoos. I have some familiarity with the vegan viewpoint, as I refuse to visit Sea World on moral grounds. Zoos, on the other hand, I consider to be valuable resources in educating the public about the natural world, breeding and reintroducing species on the brink of extinction, and raising money for conservation. It might be that the zoos I am most familiar with have these priorities (Seattle and San Diego, also DC). These zoos have also made really impressive progress in terms of spacious and enriched habitats for their animals. So I feel really good about supporting and frequenting zoos. If a zoo did not have that feel to me I would not support it, however. I am curious what others think about this- my priority is conservation and animal welfare! My one shock at zoos is that they still serve meat. San Diego zoo is full of hot dog stands, and I find it the most hypocritical and repulsive location for cooked animal flesh. Anyone know of any efforts to shift the zoo menu?

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Melissa @ Vegan CacaoBee August 25, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Wow! Awesome post! For me, eating vegan also sort of just happened over time. As I learned more and more about the abuse of animals, then it became a deeper commitment to live a vegan lifestyle (which is definitely a process!). The part of your post about how veganism offered you an escape from the cycles of eating disorders really resonates with me. As someone who has dealt with that in the past too, I also feel that eating vegan helped me overcome the guilt associated with food. Thank you for the wonderful post! Awesome and inspiring!!!

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Bianca- Vegan Crunk August 25, 2010 at 4:06 pm

It’s always so interesting to me to read about how people come to veganism. I loved your psychological part, and I guess I never realized that veganism’s kind of done the same for me as well. I’ve always struggled with food guilt (and still do…like last night when I ate a bunch of French fries as a snack right before going to bed … and right after eating a big bowl of chocolate cake … and all that was after dinner. oops!). But most of time, I deal with far less food guilt since going vegan, especially when I’m eating healthy vegan food.

For me, the health was always secondary. I went vegan solely for ethical reasons, but now that I’m older I’m starting to care about the health part too.

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@stampylisa August 25, 2010 at 4:11 pm

awesome post Gena. wish we could have talked at hls. you should have a column in VegNews!! I need to remember this post so I can read it again when I have more time to catch all the comments etc. Thank you. I’m a baby vegetarian, I flirt with raw & vegan. Can’t give up my chicago deep dish but tend to use alternatives to dairy in most instances. i’m a pizzatarian I guess. :)
thanks again!

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rachael August 25, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Ever since I was little, I have never been comfortable eating flesh. The yogic principle of ahimsa (non-harming) resonates very deeply within me, and I try my best to life a peaceful life and nourish myself with peaceful food. My decision to become vegetarian and then vegan, sparked my interest in health and nutrition. I needed knowledge to back myself up when people asked about my diet.

I am certainly not a perfect vegan either. I have accidentally bought beauty products that contained dairy protein and I wear old boots that are leather rather than getting rid of them and buying new boots. Ahimsa means practicing non-harming to myself as well though, so I don’t beat myself up about my imperfections.

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love thy animals August 25, 2010 at 4:32 pm

This post is inspiring. Both in the beautiful, balanced way you wrote it and the courage and insightful views it contained.

I am not a vegan but a long term vegetarian trying to ease her self away from the dairy. In the past I have strongly “unidentified” with vegans as the ones I knew only seemed to do it to act morally superior…these people I knew also had long term self esteem and insecurity issues so I saw this new “righteous” preaching to us as an extension of that. I felt one friend in particular take on the cause because of her deep need to identify with a group. To hide behind the safety of set rules.

But the internet has opened up my limited world thanks to sites like this and many other health, raw and vegan blogs. I strongly apprecite the efforts people put in now to share their experience and views on veganism and I too believe it is a very healthy and ethical diet to follow. I am transitioning to it also.

Thanks for your courage and support of your readers and answering all the questions, including the “confrontational” ones. I think it was a great question by Bitt. I enjoy her blog also.

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Maria (Tough Cookie) August 25, 2010 at 5:09 pm

My journey went just as yours did. I started for my illness and digestive issues and it turned into an ethical lifestyle. It also gave me the appreciation for food I needed after dealing with a reactive eating disorder when I became physically ill with RSD/CRPS.

Thanks for sharing!

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Judith August 25, 2010 at 5:26 pm

I don’t care how anyone became vegan.

What’s important is how we STAY vegan and that is through continuing education, both in the kitchen and in Animal Rights, open communication, community support and fantastic vegan food blogs with lots of photos.

Rock on, Gena

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mary s August 25, 2010 at 6:42 pm

I came about being vegan not for health reasons (I am a very plump and not very “healthy” vegan!) but because of my beliefs about the ethics of animal use and cruelty. Now, like you, that doesn’t mean my entire life is 100% vegan. I still carry my 12 year-old leather purse rather than ditching it to buy a new one, I still have shoes from my pre-vegan days. However, I’m slowly learning and making decisions that reflect a more earthful, vegan outlook. Your post resonates with my journey and made me appreciate it, thanks for such a thoughtful share!

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Randi August 25, 2010 at 6:52 pm

This is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your experience and life with us on the web. I am now completely vegan food-wise. I have been since March. After being mostly vegetarian for a long time I finally made the decision to eat vegan I think because it started to feel hypocritical of me to not eat meat but drink milk. I mean really what was the difference? Not soon after changing my diet I realized that I just don’t want another living thing to suffer so that I can live. This the main statement of my life now. I work hard to buy vegan personal care items now as well as shoes etc. My one hang up seems to be wool yarn. I love to knit and I love to knit with wool but I know that the sheep that give me that wool are terribly mistreated. Therefore, I haven’t really purchased yarn since March. I just keep praying that I will find a little sheep farm that loves and cares for their animals and shears them in a humane way. That would be a dream come true. :) In all, I have to agree that the longer I am vegan the more I care about the ethical and environmental reasons for making that choice every single day.

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Mama Pea August 25, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Thank you, Gena.

What keeps me maintaining “a vegan lifestyle,” since I try not to put a label on myself, is the fact that I can no longer separate my food from it’s source…whether it be an animal or a laboratory. This does translate into a health issue, but like you, mine has evolved into an ethical issue as well.

I’ve eaten “mindlessly” my whole life. No more.

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Sarah August 25, 2010 at 8:18 pm

I LOVE this. It gave me chills. Perhaps because it’s so similar to my own story.

Because of IBS, I too was vegan by default before I became an ‘ethical vegan’. It was a slow process, and a year before I even told anyone I was eating a vegan diet. I wanted to ‘try it on’ first to see if it fit. Some people might say that makes me less dedicated to ‘the cause’, but so be it.

My real turning point – my aha moment – was working for an environmental firm in which the dairy industry was a client. The regulators were finally making them get environmental permits, and we were finding it nearly impossible to design dairies in a way that complied with the law (and the laws aren’t particularly strict – they still allow for a lot of pollution of the air, water and soil). My superiors figured putting me on these projects would make me start eating dairy again, but it had the opposite effect. I realised that you can’t feed America’s desire for dairy in a way that is gentle on the environment. The days of rolling hills and dairy farms are slowly fading, and the days of big farms (or lots of them) producing so much waste that the environment can’t cope, has arrived. The groundwater aquifers were running dry, the rivers were running brown…I just couldn’t ignore it anymore, standing knee deep in cow dung. So it was the environment that brought me there. All the other reasons, which I was slow to pick up, have kept me there.

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Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine August 25, 2010 at 9:22 pm

AMAZING post. I must admit that I’m mostly vegan for dietary reasons. From the research I’ve done about the effects of animal products on our bodies, as well as the dangers of many mass-produced meats, it seems like the best choice. That being said, eating mostly vegan has made me more compassionate towards animals. Do I think that God put animals on the planet for human use? Yes. Do I think that we were intended to abuse them and force them into horrible living situations before they’re killed? Absolutely not. I choose not to eat meat or dairy mainly out of taste preference and health reasons, but I definitely don’t judge those who choose to. Therefore, I would hope that while I don’t practice a completely “vegan” lifestyle (as naive as it sounds, I’ve never even considered leather or zoos), total “vegans” wouldn’t judge me either. To each their own.

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christyn @ All Ways Nutritious August 25, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Gena, you have definitely inspired me to add more raw, vegan foods into my diet and i’m feeling better than ever with this addition. i love your simple, delicious recipes and your kind, non-judgemental approach to food and life. Thank you.

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Allie (Live Laugh Eat) August 25, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Gena,

You are such an eloquent writer. I could read your writing forever. Please write a book some day. Thanks for sharing your story of transitioning to veganism and being so open-minded.

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Erika @ Health and Happiness in LA August 25, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Great post! I also started out as a vegan for health reasons and after about a month realized that I agreed with ethical veganism and wanted to live a vegan lifestyle. I think it was only after I had already stopped eating animal products that I could really accept the ethical arguments, because I stopped being so defensive and I could take them at face value.

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Griffen August 26, 2010 at 12:41 am

I’ve been a long time reader, without commenting, and I have to say this is an awesome post. I just have to say your truly a positive role model.

I went vegetarian when I was in junior high and went vegan when I was 16. Purely based off of the compassionate side for animals. That has always been the number one reason I went vegan.

Throughout last year I was able to visit a Farm Sanctuary here in Colorado called Peaceful Prairie which deepened my love for veganism. I truly felt that this was the lifestyle I had to maintain. For me and my group of friends veganism is a commitment for life, and not one to make exceptions.

Although that sounds a bit extreme, veganism to me is about opening doors not closing them which many people try use as an excuse. I don’t miss anything, or it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice, only because I’m living compassionately for causes that will outlive me, and because animals are just treated disgustingly horrible for peoples 5 minutes of satisfaction.

Anyways, as time progressed and I’ve gained a lot more prospective in the natural food lifestyle, I became a lot healthier and gravitated towards incorporating more raw foods and foods that my body can digest easier. Although my intention was purely based on one thing it helped me gain a healthier life in the long run which I’m amazingly grateful for.

Growing up extremely unhealthy, suffering eating disorders, and also drug addictions veganism and raw food saved my life!

Thanks for a great post.

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Gena August 26, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Thank you SO much for this extraordinary comment!

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Pure2raw twins August 26, 2010 at 7:06 am

Great post Gena. We wrote about veganism yesterday and how we have come to realize that vegan is not the best word to describe us. Even though we are 99.999% of the time. We understand it is more than just a way of eating…more impact is being made, which we believe in all that too. We are vegan for health reasons, but we do consider the animals and environment now with our food and lifestyle choices. We are not always perfect, we just try our best.

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elizabeth August 26, 2010 at 8:59 am

What a fabulous post. I know the reason I’m not successful in maintaining a 100% vegan diet is because I don’t have the ethical commitment to “veganism.” And even though I go months at a time without consuming animal products, I’d never call myself a “vegan” just because I don’t want to muddy the ethical waters. A vegan (a real vegan) wouldn’t cheat, ever, and I will eat dairy products from time to time. And I eat bee products daily.

I do think current environmental conditions dictate a vegan lifestyle in response – just because it’s impossible (or next to impossible) to meet current demand for animal products without exploiting (and abusing) both the animals and the environment. Dairy cows have it a lot worse than beef cattle, and they wreak more havoc on the environment, and that’s something many “vegetarians” aren’t aware of. But I do love dairy products (I’m Swiss!), and I guess I imagine in a world with 1/6 as many people, a world in which we could have more symbiotic and less exploitative relationships with cows and goat, and in which we could procure dairy products ethically and sustainably. I imagine we could also procure honey (something humans have been eating at least 10,000 years) sustainably, without endangering bee colonies, and also wool (check out Izzy Lane). I imagine leather could be obtained only after animals had died? Not sure about other animal products (down, etc.).

Bitt’s written about this recently, too, and I must admit I’m not sure what’s worse: to be completely ignorant of the ethical and environmental abuses (I’m not sure ignorance is an excuse), or, like me, to be really well informed and to continue to use animal products anyway (I truthfully can’t even imagine wearing vegan boots). It’s a strange case in which my guilt is a consolation … though I know it doesn’t let me off the hook. The things we humans can rationalize …

I admire your growing ethical stance …

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Heather August 26, 2010 at 10:04 am

Wonderful post, Gena.

What keeps me committed to a vegan diet is, first and foremost, the animals. I came to vegetarianism from a health standpoint originally, but as I looked into it I saw the suffering and environmental degradation that was caused by factory farms and I immediately went vegan. I’ve been vegan now for four years. I stay committed for all those animals who are suffering right now for human pleasure and habit.

Plus, the food is delicious! I’ve never enjoyed cooking and eating so much as I do now. Maybe, like you said, it’s because food has lost the guilt that it used to hold over me.

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Andrea (@ Puppy Dog Tales) August 26, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Gena what a great post. I admire you (and all other vegans out there) for the committment and dedication that it takes to stay so true to what you believe in. It’s truly inspirational! I honestly almost always attribute moral and ethical beliefs behind vegan choices. It’s very admirable to me.

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Gena August 26, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Thanks so much Andrea!

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Zuzanka August 26, 2010 at 4:36 pm

What a thoughtful and thought-provoking post, thank you so much! It couldn’t come at a better time..today I saw a doctor about some health issues and he literally said “stop running and start eating meat!” He was alarmed that I run marathons and convinced veganism is a form of eating disorder. The worst part is, he seemed so genuinely concerned about my lifestyle’s impact on my health that he almost had me worried he might be right. Almost. Thankfully, my body and mind tell me otherwise, and you do too. That’s two people I respect and trust. :)

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Megan (Braise The Roof) August 26, 2010 at 5:01 pm

I don’t completely agree with the “vegans don’t do zoos” standpoint. (I’ll preface this by saying that while I eat animal products but I have absolutely nothing against anyone who chooses not to) There is a common perception that animals are imprisoned and miserable in zoos and would rather be set free, but I think some of this view is based on what WE, as humans, are projecting onto the animals. Animals are territorial and (especially for the great numbers of animals born in zoos), the zoo is their territory, their home. Zoos are monitored to ensure that they are treating and caring for their animals humanely (and of course there are exceptions)- the animals are fed routinely and are protected. Plus, zoos sometimes help prevent extinction of certain species. I’m definitely not an expert, but I hear people say “poor zoo animals” so often that I thought a counterpoint was worthwhile. Great post, Gena! Very thoughtful!

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rebekah (clarity in creation.) August 26, 2010 at 6:51 pm

i’ll own my veganism. i’m proud of it. because after struggling with crippling health problems and being frustrated with the food industry, to me, being a vegan means my life matters.

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Anonymous August 27, 2010 at 2:38 am

Wow! Not only was this a brilliant post, but the responses were also captivating.

Admittedly, I was one of those people who thought vegans were nutters. I became vegetarian when I was 12 and at the age of 22, a friend of mine became vegan. He was so… Extreme. All the time. It was a real turn off! I sort of started to lose a bit of respect for him because he was being so pushy. We used to argue a lot. I told myself over and over that I would NEVER be vegan. It didn’t make any sense to me; Everything he said when we argued seemed to far fetched and made up. I honestly didn’t believe that people were THAT horrible to animals.

A year later, I befriended a vegan girl who was the opposite of Adam and her attitude was “you’re already doing so much for animals by just being vegetarian” and I found her really refreshing. She inspired me to look into including more vegan food in my life. Over the course of 12 months, I’d become vegan. I was almost embarrassed to admit it to myself because of the way I’d thought only a year earlier – but in that year, I’d learned so much.

Ethics are what drive my committment to veganism but a dedication to healthy food for my body is what keeps my veganism constantly evolving.

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brett lightwait August 27, 2010 at 5:25 am

may i suggest “setting two birds free with ONE key”

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myra August 28, 2010 at 7:37 am

I love it! Evidently, that one little sentence is too short to post, but I don’t know what else to say, so here is some filler :)

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CJB August 27, 2010 at 1:59 pm

I enjoyed your post and I think I’ll be passing it along to the many people who ask me about how I physically feel as a vegan and those who do it occasionally as cleanses (something I have a hard time understanding).

I’ve been an ethical vegan from Day 1. Upon seeing Earthlings I was a vegetarian and the switch to veganism happened a wee four months later after some further reading and vegan freak podcasts. My rescue dog companion is also vegan as well as my boyfriend. One could say the 3 of us are thriving :-)

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Lauren August 27, 2010 at 8:53 pm

I finally got to sit down and really read this. I applaud you and this fabulous post! :) I too am slowly transitioning to an all vegan life. In fact, this year was the first year I bought vegan purses only and most of the shoes I bought this year were vegan. I think every year I get closer and closer to all vegan (besides my diet, which is always vegan..besides local bee products, which I am sure many don’t agree I am vegan because of). But I only consume them on a rare occasion, and I feel that buying them local and knowing the practices is a little better. :) Anyway, we are so alike, I too only ate fish and chicken in high school.. I swore off red meat and pork at a young age. The zoo thing, I think about that a lot. I don’t go to them or agree with them and when my kids ask to go I would much rather bring them to the Farm Sanctuary where they can play with the animal instead of viewing them in a sad environments filled with bad energy.

Okay, sorry to babble, maybe I need my own post on this topic! ;)

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veglicious August 30, 2010 at 4:21 am

Wow. This was just such a beautiful post. My veganism was also spurred on by IBS+dairy concerns and being naturally ‘take it or leave it’ towards meat. Now, I just couldn’t look back.

Thank you so much!

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Eliot W. Collins August 9, 2011 at 1:24 pm

I chose to not eat any mammals, birds or seafood (for non-ethical and non-religious reasons). As far as I am concerned, others, can enjoy eating all the animals that they like. They should just be aware that the conditions in factory farms are a bad as they were in the Bad Newz Kennels.

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Emily September 16, 2011 at 2:02 pm

This is so lovely, Gena. I am going through a similar transformation–the more I read and educate myself, the more I find my worldview changing. Thank you for sharing your own convictions. You expressed your thoughts beautifully.

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Jeanie December 23, 2011 at 6:57 pm

I’m really enjoying your site. I was an “instant” vegan. I don’t recommend it. I was hungry for more than a few days until I learned what I could eat. My drastic change came about when I read Jonathon Safron Foer’s “Eating Animals”. I’d heard of the book on NPR when the author was being interviewed. He was talking about all the environmental problems caused by factory farming. I had never considered giving up meat before this and didn’t even know a vegetarian. I was totally ignorant about factory farming and I bought the book. I never ate meat again. After about a month, the shock of what I’d read had warn off a bit and I guess that is when most people would have started to incorporate some animal products back into their diet. I noticed how much better I felt after only a month. Aches and pains that I’d had were gone. I think that just compassion wouldn’t have been enough, (although farming practices are disgusting). Health concerns and environmental concerns also would not have been enough on their own but I felt like when you put it all together, it couldn’t be ignored. I guess I could have ignored it but that wasn’t who I wanted to be. That was two years ago. Did I mention that my change happened two weeks before Thanksgiving? That went over well. Last year I did switch to vegetarianism but I don’t feel as well with it. I just went back to a vegan diet last month and I already feel better. Dairy is really sludge to my system. I’m just starting to learn more about raw foods and juicing. Just ordered a Vitamix, can’t wait to get it. I will be trying a bunch of your recipes and I already love the chia pudding. I made it with chocolate almond milk and a bit of instant espresso powder. YUM!!! thanks

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Daimler June 6, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Gena,

I just fell across your site while looking for some good vegan recipes. I was raised in a very different eating environment due to my mothers health. she attended a place in San Diego called Optimum Health Institute (OHI) and took me with at one point. it is a place where they focus on connecting with yourself and creating a healthy way of living. it is all raw food. and, at the time. I didn’t really think about it, but within the past few months my body has been telling me, to just go back to the way my mother raised me to live and eat. I am actually craving things I haven’t had in years or haven’t ever tried, kale, mustard greens, different sprouts… they make my mouth water. I know my body is needing this lifestyle change! and your site is going to help me so much, I just know it! thank you!!

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Atl July 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Please post something on pulling all the pieces together in day-to-day meal plans. My diet is mostly vegan and high raw, but I have hard time staying healthy this way (e.g., easy bruising, cravings for sweets/calories). I do get the importance of greens, but I cannot seem to get them in adequate quantities.

On a related note, I think the words “vegetarian”, “vegan”, “raw” and even “omnivore” should be appended to words like “my diet” or “your diet” rather than to “I” or “you”. The other way is egotistical. Besides, given all the teeny bugs in water, no one’s diet is actually vegetarian, and any claims of being “cruelty-free” should be made with lots of caution. I got that last point from Thich Nhat Hanh.

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Vava July 2, 2013 at 10:12 pm

This is what Osho calls “conscious evolution”, thanks for your posting!
My path is very similar to yours.
Around age 12 I got really sick and decided, despite addiction to meat, to drop red meat completely. Fast recovery, so I’ve never eaten red meat since.
I loved LOVED fish and seafood, and the spice aroma from that Middle Eastern chicken-rice stand beside my house was driving me nuts! Had no heart to drop chicken until I saw the “Meet your Meat” movie. Took me several years to stop eating birds, but milk and fish were still on my menu.
I started intense meditation practice, and after a 21-day fast my body felt so beautiful and connected to ME, that it told me it didn’t need any animal flesh at all (ah, and no alcohol!;)
Since then I never revisited animal products. I admit I had fish cravings, but my wonderful husband (who is way more evolved than I am) once was teaching me a compassion technique where you’re sending compassion to all sea creatures and all the animals and birds. He asked, very innocently, “you are sending compassion to them, how can you eat them after that?” It was like a lightning to me. Ever since I was a little child, I was way more connected with animals than with humans, I could feel their pain, so it wasn’t hard for me to close this topic forever.
Around the same time I found out, to my disgust, that most traditional cheeses require an enzyme that is produced in the stomachs of baby calfs for curding. I was so convincing myself that cheese is cruelty free (because I loved it so much) that I felt deceived…
During times when one is particularly pure (deep meditation camps, fasts, etc) sensitivity becomes so high that it’s almost intolerable. I cut my sprouts and feel them screaming. Maybe it’s not entirely practical but I think that if people just develop their sensitivity, the earth would be a much more beautiful place.

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