Before I get into this post about Why I Became Vegan, it’s important to understand this was a long, inevitable process. I am a big believer in awareness and once I become aware of certain things, I don’t feel right if I ignore them. This has happened with many things in my life and I completely understand when the saying goes, “Ignorance is Bliss.”
However, God didn’t bless me with the gift of ignorance. Instead, He gave me the gift of curiosity and has made me aware of many things over my lifetime.
What is Vegan, Anyway?
Vegan is defined as, “a person who does not eat or use animal products.” However, it seems like there are different degrees to being vegan. Some vegans include bees in with animals and won’t eat honey and others call themselves veganish because they don’t practice being vegan completely. Some take it even further and won’t use a leather belt or have anything to do with anything that would have caused harm to another living creature.
For me, it boils down to cutting the following from my consumption:
- All meat including beef, chicken, turkey, duck or anything else living
- All fish and seafood
- All dairy products including yogurt, sour cream, cheese, milk and ice cream
- All products/meals containing meat, seafood or dairy. This includes condiments and anything else I might put into my body.
Where it all Started
Looking back, I can trace my journey with food all the way to childhood. The roots were sewn by my parents. While we didn’t eat vegan by any means and we were very much meat eaters, we also ate vegetables with every meal and fruit quite often. My parents even grew some of their own produce, especially tomatoes and nothing beats a freshly grown tomato.
While my parents sewed the roots and gave me the taste for fresh vegetables and fruits it has been a long journey since then to where I am today. The first time I became very aware of what I was putting in my body, as an adult, was about 6 or 7 years ago. I stepped on the scale and my weight hit 239, which was the highest it had ever been.
I had become known to some of my friends as a “big eater” and the guy that would eat the leftovers. It really wasn’t a reputation I was proud of and while many may not say I was fat, I noticed people would pat me on the belly and make comments about when I was due or how far along I was and those comments didn’t sit well with me.
Counting Calories to Lose Weight
I took a journey strictly based on calories and weight loss. I tracked with MyFitnessPal which is a great tool for those trying to keep a log of what they eat. I lost about 35 pounds over 3 months, but by no means was I healthy. I was just cutting calories, which made my weight loss not possible to maintain.
My diet wasn’t great and even though I knew I could eat a ton of green vegetables without sending my calories over the top, I didn’t really eat much of the good stuff. Instead, I would order a pizza and get a six pack of light beer and that would turn into half my Friday calories and half my Saturday calories. It wasn’t about quality, but about tracking quantity, which doesn’t work.
I gained most of the weight back and since I can remember weighing in after over 230 more than once. I have tried the OMG diet, which helped, a form of the Paleo diet, the Mediterranean diet, the Military diet and tracking calories with mild success with all of them. However, none of them were sustainable for more than a few months because they were all about losing weight, not getting healthier.
Diets don’t work. They may help you shed the pounds, but you cannot possibly keep the weight off unless you change your entire outlook on food and become hyper aware of what you are putting into your body. Without this awareness, it’s impossible to drop the weight and truly keep it off.
Start of More Organic Eating
When my wife and I moved to Florida, we started paying attention to what we bought a bit more. This is when we started buying more organic foods, but just because something is organic doesn’t make it healthy. You can find organic junk food and it will still have a negative impact on your health.You can find organic junk food and it will still have a negative impact on your health. Click To Tweet
Last year, I decided I wanted to try to go pescatarian. This means, no meat, but you can eat seafood, fish and dairy. I maintained this for a few months, but it didn’t seem to make much difference for me. I didn’t feel differently and it wasn’t something I was very passionate about. However, it was a part of the journey for sure.
Making a Bigger Leap
It wasn’t until this past spring that changes had to become real. While we were staying with family and regrouping to get back on the road, we started to read and study different ways of eating and why they could become a lifestyle change. For me, it really started when I devoured the book The Food Babe Way by the Vani Hari, who is known as The Food Babe. Her book was a great starting point for me because she addresses more than just eating healthy. She talks about GMOs and chemicals in food and how they have a horrible effect on our bodies.
After reading her book, I switched to her eating plan almost exclusively for close to a month. While her plan cuts back on meat, it’s not a meatless plan. She claims to be a flexitarian, which is someone that eats meat occasionally, and that was what I became, sort of, when I took on her plan.
I still didn’t have the understanding or awareness of what plant-based meant at this time. The Food Babe’s book is great and I highly recommend it, but she doesn’t really discuss a plant-based diet in her book much.
Awareness Becomes even Stronger
However, at this same time, my wife decided she really wanted to own the book How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger. I know, interesting title, but this book has already started to really change my life and I am only about halfway through it. The book goes into study after study (some of the studies are massive) about how a plant-based diet has literally cured diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other diseases commonly killing people.
How Not To Die shows the different risk levels for some of the diseases if you practice the western/American diet, become a flexitarian, become a pescatarian, become a vegetarian (no meat, but dairy and eggs are fine) or become a vegan. For every single disease risk the author discusses, the Vegan comes out with the lowest possible risk, and not by just a little. It’s a rather significant difference.
During this same time, I had also picked up a book called Wildly Affordable Organic, which is great for those of us also watching our budget. This book has a ton of good recipes for meals with beans and with rice, which makes it more affordable to not only eat Vegan, but also to eat organic.
This was all taking me down a journey as I continued to try to rationalize why it was good enough to go flexitarian or pescatarian and even more recently vegetarian instead of going all the way to vegan.
I kept thinking about the things I love eating, like pizza and realizing if I go vegan, pizza (as I know it now) is out of my life. However, every single time we’d get a delicious pizza, even with just veggies, I would feel weighed down for about 2 days and would have horrible gas. It wasn’t a pleasant thing and pizza started to have serious side effects for me.
Plant-Based Becomes a Theme
We had also just finished watching the show Parenthood (all of the seasons) and I had already decided I didn’t want any new TV shows in my life. I wanted to cut back to just the shows we already watch, movies and sports. Even one of the characters on the Parenthood show switches to a more plant-based diet to help beat cancer.
Since TV shows were out, my wife started throwing all kinds of documentaries my way. It started with Forks Over Knives and went on to What the Health, Cowspiracy, Veducated, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 2 and there were probably a few others in there, too. In addition, we watched an Oprah Episode where 378 of her staff members try a Vegan diet for a week and we watched a talk given by Alicia Silverstone on her book the Kind Diet.
**Veducated will show you how they treat the animals. If you want to find out how much you truly love animals, watch this documentary and see if it changes you.
All of these documentaries and the things I was surrounding myself with had one common theme: Plant-Based Diet. Now, that term is tricky because if plants are the base, it seems like you can have other things, such as dairy, meat and fish, which you can, if you want. However, the best results on every single show come from going fully Vegan.
In addition, there’s far more to it than just the health benefits, at least for me. My health became part of the awareness as I am sick of living a life without the energy I need/want every day. I am sick of carrying around extra weight I don’t need. I am sick of feeling like I cannot focus. I am sick of sleeping poorly and rationalizing my bad actions.I am sick of sleeping poorly and rationalizing my bad actions. Click To Tweet
While Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead was the inspiration for the Smoothie Fast we are doing, What the Health, Veducated and Cowspiracy have given me other reasons to go full on Vegan. I cannot, with this awareness I have been given, in good conscience continue to eat meat or anything that comes from an animal. The statistics in Cowspiracy are staggering and seeing top executives unwilling to talk about the animal agriculture is simply alarming.It's insane the power our government has backed by huge food corporations Click To Tweet
It’s insane the power our government has backed by huge food corporations that don’t care about our health or the health of our planet, but only the profits they put in their pockets. This awareness has given me even more reason to go full on Vegan.
Why I Became a Vegan
It didn’t happen overnight and I went to a flexitarian, pescatarian and vegetarian lifestyle (all briefly) before going full on vegan. Alicia Silverstone said in her talk, you need at least two reasons and they have to be good reasons. She probably used better words than me, but that was the jist of it. I have far more than two reasons and they are more like missions in life, than reasons.
My reasons for going vegan include:
- My own health, longevity and energy – My wife and I don’t have children yet, but when we do, I want to know that I am doing everything I can to be around as long as possible for them and their babies.
- To be an example – Whether it’s to other family members, my future children, friends or complete strangers, I have always felt a calling to be an example in some way, shape or form. I don’t know that I have ever been an example to anybody else, but maybe with going vegan, I will help to change someone’s life for the better.
- I want to be more eco-friendly – Waste Not, Want Not is one of the things I am trying very hard to practice and going vegan is far more eco-friendly than eating meat, fish, dairy or anything from an animal. It’s not just about packaging, but also about many other things. Watch Cowspiracy for a better look at how going vegan can help to save our planet.
- It will be cheaper – Saving money is also important and eating vegan will help save on the grocery bill, (kale is cheaper than grass-fed beef) health bills and probably other bills I am not even thinking about.
- Become more productive – I hate that I wear out so quickly every single day and that I wake up tired often. Many vegans have reported sleeping better and feeling more energized.
- It’s my duty and responsibility – I don’t take awareness lightly and when I feel God is trying to get through to me, I try my hardest to listen. It’s not a mistake that everything I have been watching and reading has been all about a plant-based diet lately. It’s no coincidence and the awareness I now have has made becoming a vegan my duty and responsibility.
- Animals shouldn’t be treated so poorly – The Oprah episode we watched had one of her staff members go to the leading producer of beef in the United States. It shows how they fatten up the cows and walk them to their death. For 200 days the cows are in a very small area and their entire job is to eat as they are prepared to be slaughtered. The lady from the company rationalized how this is humane, but it’s not at all. Would you want to be force fed far more than you need for 200 days and then calmly walked to your death? It’s not okay and this is supposed to be a better way compared to the way they used to do it.
- I cannot support big food companies anymore – Did you know that we feed the animals we grow for food enough food that we could feed every single person on this entire planet and billions more? Companies like CP Group, Cargill, Purina Animal Nutrition, Tyson Foods and many more grow enough food to feed the entire world, and they feed it to animals to slaughter them and feed just the top 10% or so of humans on this planet. How does that make any sense whatsoever?
I have always considered myself an animal lover, even though I have a short flirtation with hunting and trapping in my teen years. However, I don’t see how anybody can call themselves an animal lover and grow animals for food. It’s one thing to hunt a wild animal when you’re starving and have nothing else to eat. It’s another thing to reproduce animals at rapid speeds, fatten them up as fast as possible, keep them pregnant for the milk and manipulate their entire existence for a profit.
I even thought we were doing better by buying organic, free-range eggs, grass-fed beef and free-range chicken. However, then, I saw a couple with a ranch in California on Cowspiracy and they claimed to be animal lovers right after talking about how they kill their pigs when they reach an age (less than one year old) to sell them for bacon.
It just didn’t make sense to me. How could you say you are doing it out of love and they have had a good life when a pig can certainly live longer than a year, if they were not raised for food? I think we spend so much time, as humans, looking for ways to rationalize our own behavior because we don’t want to change.
It’s a bit like when we tell our kids they could have finished their homework in the time they have spent complaining about it. Instead of wasting so much energy looking for a way to rationalize your current way of living, why not make the change? Are we just afraid to grow or are we addicted to meat, fast food and other dead flesh?
Maybe we feel we will be judged, looked at as the “black sheep” of the family or even worse, we will lose friends. We were never put on this earth to be a part of society’s evils. Instead, we were put here to stand up for what we believe in, no matter who was opposing us.
Will I get Enough Protein?
I already know this will come up and it’s so silly once you really think about it. I cannot remember which documentary talked about this, maybe it was the newer one called What the Health, but one of them made a very valid point and it was like a light bulb moment for me.Why do we think we need dead flesh for protein? Click To Tweet
Why do we think we need dead flesh for protein? The simple answer, that’s what the government and big food companies have told us. We think we need protein to feed our muscles. However, we need far less than we probably think and we don’t need to eat flesh to get protein.
Cows, pigs and chickens all have muscles, too. That’s the part meat eaters drool over, right? Do any of those animals eat flesh? How do they get the protein to feed their muscles?
Protein is actually made by plants and only by plants. When you eat flesh, you’re actually getting second-hand protein because the animal first got it from the plants they ate. In fact, the animal got better protein because they got the rest of the plant, which included all the other necessary nutrients for that protein to do what it’s supposed to do in our bodies.
Somehow, we have been fed this idea that we need more than 100 grams of protein each day. However, the average amount you need is closer to 50 grams, depending on your weight, activity and gender. Vegans actually have been shown to take in about 70% more than they need daily when it comes to protein.
The documentaries linked in this article all go into far more detail and say it better than I can. I will get plenty of protein and I am certain the changes in my body, my health, my energy and my overall outlook on this world will become evident. As a person trying to be compassionate, I cannot continue to participate in the destruction of our planet from animal agriculture and I cannot continue to be blind to the way animals are treated when raised for food.
I am now a vegan and proud of it. I won’t be making any exceptions to this and I know it will be hard, but most of the things I have done with the best rewards have been the most difficult.
Are you vegan, considering becoming vegan, tried it before or have you ever tried a plant-based diet of any sort? If so, tell me about it in the comments below.