For those who may not know, veganism is a diet and lifestyle that excludes animal products. A vegan diet is like a vegetarian diet (all animal meats are excluded) but it also excludes eggs, dairy, honey, and all other foods or ingredients that may come from an animal. Anyone who has ever tried to be vegan understands that sometimes it can be difficult to stay faithful to the lifestyle at first. For a true vegan, it’s not only about removing animal products from her/his diet, it’s also removing them from clothes, beauty products, furniture, etc. This involves reading labels, learning about where products/ingredients are sourced from, verifying “not tested on animals” labels (not all bunny labels mean the same thing), and knowing which brands to support and which ones to boycott.
For most vegans, veganism is a way of looking at and relating to animals. It’s about seeing them through a lens of compassion, as beings equally deserving of living happy lives. One of the ways this idea is carried out is by not supporting places that profit from making props and tourist attractions out of animals, such as SeaWorld, roadside zoos, circuses involving animal acts, and places where you can pet or ride captive wild animals.
In conclusion, being vegan is a full-time commitment that takes more than just compassion; It takes a certain amount of commitment and dedication. There’s no sugar coating it, living a fully vegan lifestyle can be inconvenient. So why bother? Simple. Because it’s worth it! (at least for me).
I decided to become vegan in recent years. However, as of today, I’m not 100% vegan 100% of the time. I’d be lying and implying I’m perfect if I said I was. Here’s my deal: I’ve been 100% vegetarian for years and I’m strict about it. At home, my diet is 100% vegan and I don’t buy anything made with animal products. However, when outside my home, the story varies a bit. Sometimes it’s difficult to find vegan options at restaurants, and I’m not going to lie, even though I always manage to find vegetarian options, I sometimes slip and “forget” to request no cheese. When it comes to everything else like clothes, beauty products, etc. I also try to strictly buy vegan and I look for the “not tested on animals” symbol. For those reasons, I often say I’m veganish. I am committed to the lifestyle, but I don’t beat myself up if I slip occasionally. I’m human, and expecting perfection would be setting myself up for disappointment. I know one day I’ll get there!
When people learn about my diet/lifestyle choice, they almost always follow with a big WHY? The short answer is this: because of animal rights, health, and environmental reasons.
Growing up, my diet included plenty of meat. My journey toward veganism began with me becoming pescatarian (the only meat pescatarians eat is seafood), then vegetarian, to now being mostly vegan. The shift began around 2011 while I was completing a degree in environmental studies, which is when I first learned about the link between global warming and livestock. From an environmentalist perspective, it made sense to quit meat. As far as animal rights is concerned, I realized that choosing not to be vegan meant turning my back on innocent animals and putting my desires above their right to live a life free of suffering. Through some nonsensical selective ethical reasoning, we have somehow decided that some animals are more deserving of our compassion than others. After watching several documentaries and YouTube videos, the need to quit animal products became more obvious. I specifically remember FOOD, Inc., which touched on the cruelty and environmental impacts. Forks Over Knives, is another good documentary which touches on health benefits, especially since many people wonder if you can be healthy as a vegan. Fortunately, there’s plenty of evidence that points to the many benefits of a vegan diet (as long as you know where to find all the nutrients of course). If you’re interested in becoming more educated on the subject or just need a little push, I highly recommend watching some of the documentaries and videos available. Whether you’re an animal lover, concerned about climate change, looking to be healthier, or simply curious, it’s worth becoming informed.
It’s about seeing them through a lens of compassion, as beings equally deserving of living happy lives.
A big part of minimalism is letting go of the things that get in the way of our happiness. For me, contributing to the pain and suffering of other beings, to the deterioration of the environment, and causing harm to my body, are all things that get in the way of my happiness. Veganism is a solution to that problem. As an animal lover who is also health conscious, eco-conscious and a minimalist, I just don’t want to carry the weight of knowing that I’m part of the problem. Continuing to be a part of the problem would mean to allow that underlying negativity to weigh on me.
I was far from being a vegan before. Not only was I an uninformed meat eater, but I’d always jump on the opportunity to take pictures with wild animals, swim with dolphins, ride elephants, etc. (at the time, I actually genuinely thought this was a special way to bond with animals), I just didn’t see the harm in it. Thus, I don’t judge others. However, if there’s even an inch of you that cares about animals, the environment, and your health, then you owe it to yourself to learn the facts so that you can make informed decisions. By taking baby steps, vegetarianism and veganism don’t have to be the daunting transformation that some people think it is.
The moment I realized that I can successfully minimize my negative impact on animals, the environment, my health, and my conscience, a weight was lifted off my shoulders, and THAT made it all worth it.
Shout out to Derek Pashupa Goodwin for the beautiful images.