This past year has brought about a lot of personal changes, and one of the biggest has been my diet. In the past, I’ve cut out meat and dairy for short periods for purely health reasons, but this year I’ve gone fully vegan for deeper reasons. In the process I’ve gotten lots of questions about why I made the change and I wanted to take the time to put some of my thoughts into writing.
For me, it started when we adopted Walker, our rescue puppy last year around this time. My family has always had cats and this was my first experience having a dog. We fell in love with him instantly and he’s been the best addition to our life. He has the funniest personality and we consider him a member of our family. Adopting Walker made hearing about events like the Yulin Meat Festival even more appalling. If you’re unfamiliar, Yulin is a 10 day festival in China, where dogs are tortured, killed, and eaten as a part of the celebration. Thinking about it makes me feel ill, and the minute I acknowledged that eating a dog is wrong it just clicked that eating other animals is wrong too. It’s hypocritical to criticize others but to turn a blind eye to the fact we do the same thing with different species. The only difference are the labels that we’ve assigned – “pet” vs. “farm animal.”
I grew up eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), and thought that making the switch to veganism would be super difficult. I’m happy to report that it was much easier than expected! When you commit and start to explore, your world actually opens up to all of these options that you’ve never considered before. For example, growing up I only ever had cow’s milk, and now I get to rotate between almond, flax, cashew, hazelnut, hemp, coconut, and pecan milk. I also noticed that whatever I continuously eat, I crave more of. After about a month of eating vegan I didn’t miss anything from my previous diet – so if you just stick with it, you’re golden. I’m not usually one to seek out replacements, but there are also vegan versions of almost any dish you can think of at this point.
As I’ve done more research over the course of the year, I’ve seen how many positive impacts eating a vegan diet can have! If you were to eat vegan for just 1 year you would conserve:
401,500 gallons of water
14,600 pounds of grain
10,950 square feet of forest
7,300 pounds of CO2
365 animal lives
Ultimately, I don’t want to participate in cruelty, especially when there’s a healthier option for myself and for the planet. I was never fully aware of the environmental impact that factory farming had, and learning that about that aspect really solidified my commitment. Animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gas emissions than the all the exhaust from transportation combined, and is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon rainforest deforestation. It’s also the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, and global water pollution. We grew up hiking, camping, and spending plenty of time outdoors — and my family raised me to have a deep appreciation for nature. If going vegan is a way to have a dramatic positive impact for the environment, I’m all in.
If veganism is something that you’re considering or even if you’re interested in adding the occasional vegan dish to your week, I’d love for you to reach out! It can be hard starting off and trying to get into the groove. If full-on vegan or vegetarianism isn’t for you — even just slightly reducing the amount of meat and animal products you use on a day to day basis can have a huge positive impact! At the moment no one in my immediate family or friend group is vegan, but everyone has been so kind and accommodating as I’ve made the switch. On the flip side, I never judge what personal choices people make when it comes to their own diet. We’re all completely different and what’s right for me might not be right for you, and I totally respect that.
If you are curious to learn a little more, I’m including a few resources at the bottom of this post, after a few cute animal pictures from Live Kindly. 🙂
– Live Kindly – a site that shares vegan related news. I highly recommend following their Instagram if you’d like to learn more and see lots of cute animal photos.
– Minimalist Baker – a blog featuring delicious recipes that are mostly vegan. Their cookbook “Minimalist Baker Everyday Meals” has been a lifesaver for me!
– [Cookbook] The Oh She Glows Cookbook
– [Cookbook] Frugal Vegan: Affordable, Easy & Delicious Vegan Cooking
– [Documentary] Forks Over Knives
– [Documentary] What the Health
– coming soon – I’m really looking forward to The Game Changers a documentary from James Cameron about plant-based vegan athletes, coming out this fall