I went vegan January 1, 2015 after being a vegetarian for about 4 months. Previous to this, I was the happiest meat-ever EVER. My favorite place to eat was Buffalo Wild Wings, Chick-Fil-A and Red Robin. I wore Uggs and fur lined coats without second thought and I adored leather bags and jewelry. So what turned me into an obnoxious champion for the animals?
Since 2012 I had battled with intense, life-altering anxiety. The panic attacks came without warning. As the panic attacks slowly took over more and more of my life, depression gripped me tightly as I struggle to cope with my life. Then on a cold day in February 2014, stepped in my rescue.
My mom ran into a stranger in the grocery store who was talking about a little white dog she had to get rid of before she moved. If the dog didn't have a home in 24 hours, it was going a shelter. I had never had a dog before, but I think my parents knew I needed something to help me. So on a cold February day, we went to get Bailey. She was scared and malnourished and sick. But after a few weeks in a loving home, she was good as new. We became inseparable.
Living with Bailey changed my life. It changed the way I saw animals. Dogs weren't just dogs anymore. They were friends. I saw how much personality Bailey had. I saw how smart she was, and I started to become an "animal person". I worried about her safety constantly and always wanted to make sure she didn't get out. I knew that if Bailey died, it would be devastating. For some reason, this sparked a question. Why we protect the lives of some animals, and not others?
But can you actually answer that question? I began to think about it a lot and I wondered why we eat pigs (which are actually smarter than dogs) and why we baby our dogs. I was completely naive about where my meat came from so I thought maybe there was a humane way to get our meat and I tried to stop thinking about it.
But then Brandon picked up a TIME magazine called "The Animal Mind" for me and I started to read it. This wasn't a "vegan" magazine, but more of scientific one that explained how full of intelligence and personality ALL animals are, even bugs. I was shocked by this new knowledge. There was section in the magazine that covered animal abuse. It focused on elephants and tigers at the circus, bears at the zoo, and chickens in an egg factory. It wasn't graphic but a light bulb went off for me. Animals aren't ours to use.
I mean, if you spend any amount of time looking at an animal in a cage at a factory farm or even a circus, you can't help but feel bad for them. That's why so many people refuse to watch certain documentaries or read certain things that will tell them the truth about where their food comes from. It's REALLY hard to watch innocent creatures suffer. After reading that magazine, I was sold. I was going vegetarian.
I never had any interest in going vegetarian but I knew that you couldn't just take away meat. You had to replace it. So I started doing research. As I started eating less meat, I started feeling better physically and mentally. My anxiety began to ease up and I started having more energy and less stomach aches. As I research more and more, I became curious as to why some people didn't eat diary or eggs. Aren't cows supposed to be milked? Don't chickens naturally create eggs?
I began to research and watch documentaries like Food Inc. and Forks Over Knives. It revealed to me that most people don't eat diary or eggs because of the horrific treatment of cows on dairy farms. They forcefully artificially inseminate cows in a really painful way. Since cows only make milk when they're pregnant, they have to be raped over and over again to make milk. Since the milk is made for the baby cow, the baby is separated from the mom after it's born and if it's a boy, it's sold to a veal farmer to be slaughtered. If it's a girl, it is separated from it's mom for a little while until they can do the same thing to her.
They also don't eat eggs because chickens are treated so horribly on egg farms. They are given such horrible growth hormones that they grow so large, their feet literally break underneath of them. Also, they keep some of the eggs to hatch them so they can always have more chickens making eggs. If the chick hatches and it's a boy, they literally put hundreds of baby male chicks in trash bags until it's time to put them in a grinder. They literally grind them live because there is no use for them. Once you accidentally see a video of baby chicks being ground up alive, you don't eat eggs anymore.
So doing my research for 4 months was about all it took for me to commit to eating vegan. Since going vegan, have I slipped up? Yep. But you just get back up and try again the next day. It's a huge learning process and I am still on this journey. I am constantly learning new things about being vegan, and I am realizing that it's more than a diet-- it truly is a lifestyle.
I always tell people that I went vegan for the animals, but I stay vegan for the health benefits. Once you see how happy your body is on a vegan diet (if you do it right!), I truly believe that you'll have a hard time going back to eating meat and dairy. Give it a try! (: