People will often ask me where I stand on animal rights and where it fits into my health and diet. It’s interesting, I started out going plant based, I eliminated animal products because I found out they were harming my body, they were poisons. I started to read more, and eventually got into reading a lot about the animals that I was once consuming.
Up until I decided to be vegan , eating was only about me. It really had nothing to do with anyone else. It wasn’t hurting anyone except for myself, it wasn’t giving anyone else diabetes, giving anyone else high cholesterol, or making anyone else obese. I used to think of eating as something that was very personal, something that only impacted me.
It wasn’t until I decided to go vegan did this start to drastically change for me. I think as a society we separate eating and who suffers so much that we’ve become completely separated from the food on our plate. This started out for me as a journey of health, I really never questioned if my body was built to consume animal products. I never really thought about things like the chemicals that go into the food that I eat, I was just a passive participant in my life, and in the food choices I made.
This was absolutely the case with how I selfishly thought that the way I was eating was only impacting me. Sure, on some level it was impacting my loved ones, my family and my friends – they had to deal with me being sick for a long time, but that was almost easy to dismiss, I still wasn’t directly harming them.
It wasn’t until I read “Skinny Bitch” that I made the very harsh discovery, that the way I was eating was directly hurting something. The way I had been eating was harming, torturing and killing hundreds of animals. Thankfully, I had already given up animal products when I read the book, because honestly? It’s a heck of a lot easier to learn about animals and how they are treated and killed, when you are not eating them.
Admittedly, prior to becoming vegan I was never an ‘animal person’. Sure, I loved my friends’ dogs and cats. And I loved our family cats, but that was about it. And I never once made the connection that there was not any difference between my good friends dog, and the animal products I used to consume.
Reality hit me one day while I was reading a news article about a man who was sent to prison because he abused and killed his dogs. I was horrified. It wasn’t because I had this immense love of dogs, it wasn’t because I first had to understand some really profound principle regarding animal rights, before I felt any sadness for what happened to these defenseless and beautiful creatures. It was because, it was a simple answer, there was no question in my mind if these animals had feelings, or felt pain from what this man had done to them.
All of a sudden it became painfully clear of what my prior way of eating had caused. And honestly, the thought that my overindulgence was the cause of so much death makes me completely ashamed.
It’s a strange thing for me to be consistently losing weight now. I had put so much weight on due to my selfish indulgence, and now as I shed that, I feel as though I am shedding part of something much bigger than weight, I’m shedding the way that I used to look at food as a whole. I’m shedding parts of me that took years and years to become.
For me the weight and the animal rights part of my life are so closely connected. The weight that I have represents something very dark, and a lot of things that I wish more than anything I could undo. Being able take this weight off is not just a physical burden being lifted, but also a very deep emotional and painful burden being lifted.
I wish I had made the connection so much earlier in my life. The way I was eating was causing pain and suffering. As someone who has always thought of myself as a champion for things like social justice and peace, I participated in the needless suffering of other living creatures, by the food that I ate every day. I would march in peace protests, but eat an animal for dinner; I’d champion for the rights of others, but consume products that meant torture.
Losing weight has been a painful process for me in a lot of ways. I hate what my weight represents. And so the two have become intertwined in a way that I was not expecting them to be.
There is no reason to let another creature suffer in order to fulfill our selfish desires. There is a simple reasoning, either an animal suffers, or it does not suffer, I don’t think there is much else to it. And it doesn’t matter how that animal was raised, if it was grass fed or if it was in a factory farm, the animal still experiences a brutal and horrifying death, a death that is then consumed.
I consumed death for most of my life, and a little over a year ago I made the decision to stop. There is something that goes far beyond health when you become vegan, something that I was not expecting. I have and feel more life than I ever have; I make decisions, thinking about how it will impact other creatures, whether that is my food choice or my clothing choices. In turn I’ve discovered life in an entire new way. My life does not center around death the way it once did, it now centers around life, and treating all life with respect and love. It has made a difference in my life that I am profoundly thankful for, and hold onto so much hope, that if someone like me could drastically change my perception of the way I lived my life, that others can and will make the same choice.