Veganism gets a fair amount of bad rap in our society. People don’t understand it and love to make fun of it. They think you can only eat lettuce, and don’t understand why anyone would want to give up meat. I am here to recount my experience of why I chose veganism.
I shouldn’t have to preface with this, but there’s a lot of animosity between herbivores and ‘carnivores’, and I want to avoid adding to it. My personal choice of veganism should not offend you. I do not think I am better than you – in fact, I am sure many of you do different, equally beautiful things for our environment and human rights causes than I will ever do. This is just to serve anybody who is interested in changing up their diet in making an educated choice.
#1 I’m a diver.
Not what you expected, huh? But this is where my first ethical choice to ditch an animals product stemmed from.
I was diving off the coast of Colombia. Colourful reefs, a plethora of fish and even sea turtles and sharks abound.
A week ahead of this, I had been diving only 200km further down the coast – and it had been a vastly different experience. What I remember from that dive is mostly… grey. Everything was tinted in a different shade of grey. The corals, the rocks, even the sand. Sea life was scarce.
The difference? TNT. The local fishermen had attempted to keep up with the commercial fishing vessels, and had used TNT to enhance their catch.
One thing I did see, that first dive, was a tuna. My favourite fish to eat – up until that point. It’s scales were mesmerising and glistened in the sun, amongst all the greyness.
I wan’t to keep seeing beautiful seascapes when I go diving – and yes, I realise the selfishness of that statement. So I quit eating fish, which was my first step to ethical veganism.
Full disclosure: I did eat the lion fish my friends spearfished in Colombia, since it was an invasive species and the government and local marine experts were actually encouraging you to do so. I wouldn’t do that now, for ethical reasons.
#2 I could never kill an animal.
I am by no means a crazy animal enthusiast. Spiders scare me to death. I generally like animals only if they like me – and that includes pets. I have had bad experiences with sheep and am still mildly – read: mightily – afraid of them (I see you, Rambo).
But I was in Morocco for the Eid holiday in 2016, and customarily each family who can afford it will ritually slaughter a sheep in the streets or their home. The sheep had appeared all over the place in the days leading up to the event – at the markets, you heard them bleeping in the houses, saw them being transported atop scooters. On the day of the festival, we had been traveling on lonely desert roads for hours, so I had managed to largely avoid the actual slaughter. But when at midday I turned a corner in a tiny village, there it was – I’ll spare you the gory details of the sheep’s demise. I, however, was so shaken by the images that I had an immediate panic attack and could not stop crying.
As much as I hated him, I could have never done that to Rambo, my nemesis in wool. I’m not cut out to kill an animal, neither emotionally nor physically.
So if I know I couldn’t kill an animal, what right do I have to eat it? This is the first reason that made me choose veganism.
PS: Before you come at me, hardcore meat-eaters: yes, I know I have killed some bugs in my life. And yes, I would (attempt to) kill an animal if it threatened me or another human. But I get you, that little “veal” you just ate was super threatening.
#3 I like our planet.
Our planet is beautiful. And all the things that make it beautiful – trees, oceans, flowers, rivers – are also the things that keep us alive.
Once I learned the ways in which our diets contribute to global warming, I knew that there was no going back.
I get scared shitless when I think about the direction our planet is heading. I don’t want to live in a world of water wars, zero ice caps and mass extinction. And one of the biggest contributors to these disasters is a diet high in meat and dairy. Veganism is one of the easiest ways with which I do my part to prevent these events.
#4 Illness and disease sucks.
I know illness. I’ve had some, my family members have had some. And if there is just a little chance that I can positively affect my health both now and in the future, I’m going to take it. And actually, there is mountains of scientific evidence to prove just that: veganism is much healthier than the Standard American Diet (SAD).
Now, I’m not saying if you eat fries and Oreos (yes, they’re vegan) all day you’ll never have health problems again. And you cannot prevent all illnesses by eating a healthy diet. But you can drastically lower your chances of acquiring heart disease, multiple cancers, diabetes and the likes if you adapt a whole-foods, plant-based way of eating.
I for myself drastic improvements in my arthritis, and have never felt healthier in my entire life.
#5 I’m a yogi.
… and therefore I practice ahimsa. Ahimsa is one of five yamas, which are basically yogic commandments.
Practicing ahimsa for me means that I strive to live a life of non-harming. This idea includes committing no harm to myself, other humans around me, and, naturally, animals. This perfectly includes veganism.
That is why I chose veganism
Going vegan was one of the best choices I ever made in my life, and it kickstarted so many other healthful habits that are now integral to my personality.
Veganism is so damn easy once you embrace it, and I encourage you all to dabble into it – vegan food is delicious. And then there’s the added bonus of living in alignment with your beliefs.