I have been vegan now for approximately three years. My husband and two sons would probably describe this transition as “sudden” and, up until recently, I would have described this change as one that occurred “overnight.” If you’ve read my “About” section of this website, I attribute my veganism to reading Alicia Silverstone’s “The Kind Diet,” Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Eating Animals” and seeing Michael Pollan’s documentary “Food, Inc.” within the span of a one week period.
Lately, I found myself pondering the reasons behind my decision to go vegan in far greater depth than I have in the past. Having given this topic much thought and reflection, I believe that becoming a vegan has been a “process” for me and not something that just happened “overnight.” I also believe that becoming a vegan is a “process” for all other vegans, as well, whether they know it or not. This is only my opinion, of course, and I can’t speak for every vegan.
I would like to share the factors in my life which I have retraced back to my early childhood which I believe explain my journey towards veganism:
1. My early childhood memories of loving animals.
I distinctly remember falling in love with and bringing home stray kittens as a young child. Unfortunately, my father was not an animal lover, so I was not allowed to keep these kittens for very long; but I clearly remember how much I loved them. I also remember the thrill of visiting my cousins’ home because they had a cute little dog named “Muffin.” I was crazy about Muffin. We also had family friends with a dog I loved named “Tippy.” I loved to visit these friends so I could play with Tippy for hours on end. At nine years old, I was attacked by a German Shepherd while riding my bike (resulting in a broken jaw and numerous stitches) so I went through much of my life with a fear of animals up until recently. However, I believe all children have a natural love of animals as I did before this accident.
2. Growing up in a home where my brother and I were raised to consider world issues, issues of peace and issues of humanity.
My father was a political activist who always involved himself with issues of world peace. He was for civil rights, against the Vietnam War and always thought “globally” and not just “locally.” He was a citizen of the world. I guess his politics rubbed off on me and got me thinking a certain way.
3. I clearly recall being appalled by the sight of a fur coat as a teenager.
As a teenager, I remember being appalled by the sight of a fur coat without even knowing the specifics about the animal cruelty involved in making such a coat. I remember thinking that fur coats were barbaric, unnecessary and in bad taste. I just disliked them and could never understand why anyone would want one.
4. I have always cared about the environment.
As a child, I thought the worst crime in the world was to litter. I believed in respecting our planet, our home. These values stayed with me into my adulthood. I loved Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth” and I drove a hybrid car before I became vegan. I still believe that if we destroy our earth, then we have nothing.
5. My brother has been a vegetarian (and recently went vegan) for over 30 years.
Although I dismissed my brother’s vegetarianism for many, many years (I was actually not very interested in his way of life, to my regret), it must have subconsciously affected me in some way. He is flesh and blood, afterall.
6. I would go through long periods of time in my life where I simply could not eat meat.
Throughout my life, I would bury my knowledge that the meals on my plate were, simply put, dead animals. If a fish was served whole, if the chicken looked like a “chicken,” if the meat was “gamey,” if I pictured a cow while eating a steak, a sick feeling would overcome me and I would often go for months at a time without eating meat. Then, when time passed and I was able to bury my feelings again, I would go back to eating meat. I remember spending a Thanksgiving weekend many years ago with my husband (then my boyfriend) in Vermont. We were in a restaurant and I was served my turkey dinner while looking out of the restaurant’s window watching live turkeys walking around. When I made the connection that my turkey dinner was killed right then and there on the premises, I ate everything on my plate except the turkey. The same thing happened while we were vacationing out west. I was served a steak dinner while looking at a cute cow grazing in the field outside the window realizing that a cow just as cute was killed for that steak on my plate. I stopped eating meat for about six months after that. I guess I could run, but I could not hide! Eventually, those buried feelings emerged and here I am…a militant vegan!
7. Eight years ago, I fell in love with my first real pet! If this doesn’t inspire one towards veganism, then what does?
8. I have always been interested in nutrition, exercise and self-improvement.
I have always tried to read a lot to stay current when it came to matters of health and nutrition. Throughout my twenties and thirties (except during my pregnancies) I ate poorly and felt awful. When I finally realized that “you are what you eat,” I made healthier food choices and I felt much better as a result. I maintained my interest in health leading me to books such as “The Kind Diet” and “The China Study.”
9. As a lawyer and throughout my life, I have always relied on my instincts, sense of logic and common sense. I also have a strong desire to consider all the evidence in any given situation.
As a trial lawyer, you must have a certain amount of logic and common sense to survive. You must also learn to listen to your gut, as well as the evidence before you in getting to the heart of any matter. After considering the overwhelming evidence on the matter at hand, my instincts, common sense, sense of logic and strong belief in science have led me to the verdict that veganism is the healthiest way to live for myself and for the planet.
Based on the foregoing, I believe that becoming a vegan has been a lifelong “process” for me, although it took a lot of time for me to realize this. Up until recently, I thought I was an “overnight” vegan as a result of reading a few books on the subject. This was simply not the case. In truth, being analytical and introspective led me to face my truths and to live in accordance with the lifelong beliefs and values I have always had. Shouldn’t we all be analytical and introspective to be able to grow and change throughout our lives? I believe that it would be really interesting for any vegans reading this post to consider their history to determine the significant factors which were part of their “process” in becoming vegan. When I decided to look back on all these factors in my life, my choice began to make perfect sense to me!
Peace & Love,