Sometimes it happens. I’ll be reading a vegan blog and then suddenly be hit by hundreds of comments by “vegan haters” who don’t care one iota about animal rights.
And then, it occurred to me “CRAP, I used to be a total jerk too!” That’s right, me, sweet, innocent me. I would have commented all sorts of hate to a post that said I shouldn’t eat meat or cheese, how dare they?!
Yep. Let’s take a trip back in time, let’s say, like 5 years ago….
It’s me, I’m really overweight, I just found out I was diabetic. I was hanging on to my life, but I was miserable. I mean, really, really miserable. I couldn’t leave the house, my blood sugars were way out of control, my poor husband had to do things like make sure I didn’t lock the door when I was home by myself, because if something happened, the paramedics could easily get in. It was my life, and it was pretty terrible.
At the time, I also was in some circles that would be labeled as, well, far right wing christian conservatives. *okay, time out. This alone could be like a book, because if you know me now, you probably know that I am a liberal atheist. And if you don’t know that, boy do we have some catching up to do.*
I was involved in a lot of talk regarding “liberals” meaning “People who tell me what to do” and how they were really horrible people. The term liberal in the circles I was in was really broad. And honestly, I have no clue how certain things were deemed “liberal” or “conservative”. I just knew if I cared about the environment – bad liberal. If someone were a vegan – REALLY bad liberal, fox news said so. YES I watched Faux Fox news.
*Can we take another time out? Please know that this is just ME and MY experience, I know there are plenty of conservatives who even watch fox news that might not in anyway think the way I used to think about things like being vegan or the environment.* With that said, I was NOT one of them.
It was very common in the circles I was in to make fun of vegans or vegetarians (and I really didn’t care what the difference was). Vegans were hippies who had nothing better to do than to tell me what I could and could not eat, and who gave animals rights, when animals were animals, and I was a human, and I was entitled to do whatever the hell I wanted.
I would occasionally read something by someone making what I thought were outrageous claims regarding meat. I would role my eyes at the mere mention of someone talking about how red meat was bad for me.
After all, I mean if it was bad, my doctors would tell me, right? The government would tell me, right? 60 minutes would surely run a special on how meat wasn’t so great, right??
Meanwhile, things were falling a part all over the place for me. My diabetes kept getting worse, despite trying every thing. I spent TONS of money on various drug treatments, nutritionists, gyms, I was trying and nothing was happening. And in my personal life, every thing was falling a part. I won’t get into all of that, but needless to say that my political beliefs and religious beliefs got turned upside down on their head and I ended up way outside of the circles I was in, and my husband and I were alone for the most part.
This was the best thing that could have ever happened to us. We started to do things like watch documentaries, read books, and do a ton of research on things that just would not have been accepted by the circles we were hanging out in. One of these early on movies? Super size me. If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend it for starters. Morgan Spurlock goes through 30 days of eating a completely McDonalds diet. This is a movie I would have never watched before, but I decided that truth was something that was there if you wanted to find it, and I started there.
I remember watching the movie and being completely disgusted. I was horrified to be honest. And my first reaction was how ridiculous it all was, I mean WHO eats McDonalds EVERY day for 30 days straight?! But then I thought, I eat at McDonalds, and he only did it for 30 days, I eat there more than 30 times per year (or other fast food places). After coming to this sobering realization that I was wrong about fast food, I stopped, completely, and have not even bought a bottle of water since from a fast food place.
The next big movie was “Fast Food Nation”, another one that I highly recommend. It was like being punched in the face for me. I cried while watching it. I don’t even know if I cried because of the awful things they were saying and showing, but because I ignored all of these truths for so long.
It still took me a while to get to the truths about eating all animal products. After watching those movies, I concluded that it was okay if the meat didn’t come from cheap sources, and was not from fast food.
And then last August happened. I had been eating what many would call a very healthy and strict diet. I was working out upwards of 4 hours per day. And I was not losing much weight, and my diabetes was out of control most days, and I was on tons of meds. Which is when I read “The 30 day diabetes miracle” which said I should be on all plants, and to which I said “HECK NO” but then said “seriously, I’m willing to try anything”.
And you know the rest of the story – got off insulin, losing weight, all that good stuff.
I started doing a lot of research, I started really diving into why an animal based diet was unhealthy, where the food was really coming from, why my body was not set up to handle those sorts of things.
All of this to say, that the journey to where I am right now, was not overnight. I did not start out as a vegan. I started out thinking it was absurd. I started out being completely offended and defensive when it came to the what I eat, MY food choices and MY way of life. I thought that everyone telling me that perhaps veganism was a good thing was telling me I was an idiot for not knowing that before and I was responsible for all of the bad things that happened with my health.
In the beginning of all of this, I can’t even tell you the guilt I had. It was almost too much. I had to come to grips with that things could have been a lot better for me, if only I had done things differently. If only I had paid attention to what these people were saying, and not just blow them off because of a few bad sources of information in my life at the time.
I soon realized, that good or bad, it’s all part of reaching the conclusion I did. I can’t exactly go back and tell myself five years ago to skip all the drama, and just go straight to where I am now. We need process in our lives. You might be in the very beginning stages of the process. And I’m here to tell you that it is TOTALLY OK. Be in the beginning. Start the process, one step at a time. You don’t need to jump in to the deep end, if you are not ready to do that. And by all means, do not feel guilty for who you are, who you have been, or the choices you’ve made. Guilt will get you nowhere. Take all of what you are learning, and be proud of yourself for being the kind of person that is willing to listen, the kind of person who is trying to do what is best for your body and mind.
If you are vegan curious, and you sometimes think “this girl is kind of crazy, why is she so preachy about all of this??” it’s because my life before all of this was pretty bad. And I promise you that even the most passionate vegans are not being that way because they hate you. Because, I can almost guarantee that every vegan that you meet was not a vegan a few years ago. And I can also assure you that their life, health, well being changed that much, that they have become really passionate about the subject.
As for me, there are some days where I honestly feel like I’m standing beside train tracks, and I’m watching someone stand on them, with a train coming full force toward them. I know how the story ends if they stay on that track. I know, because I used to stand on those same tracks. And for me, I am thankful that there were a few people who were screaming at me to get the heck off the track. And I did, but just in time. I did just before I almost lost part of my leg, after I almost needed surgery, after I almost lost my life. And I hope for many others, that they can willingly step off the tracks, just to see a life that is not so risky.
I want to take this moment to apologize in advanced. I WILL get preachy about this. I promise. But I’m not doing so to be a jerk, I’m not doing so because I think you suck for not being vegan. I’m doing so because I will not be able to sleep at night if ONE for a moment think there is someone that I could help get off the tracks. If that means I tell you some disgusting things about what goes on with your body and that helps, ok. If that means I give you an insane amount of facts, ok. If that means I list out book after book that could help you? OK. And if that means I have get myself to your city to have a talk with you, well I might just do that as well. Your life is worth it to me, and I hope that you believe your life is worth it as well.
And now… if you are a vegan. Granted, I haven’t been doing this for that long. There are some of you who have been writing for YEARS. And you don’t know what else to do. It seems so hopeless at times. You write about the horrors of the meat industry, or what animal products can do to the body, and that very moment someone makes a joke about you being vegan. Or you turn on the tv and you see a BILLION commercials for McDonalds but none for kale. I mean it seems pretty grim, doesn’t it?
You might have even lost friends, you may have had to limit the interaction with people you were once close to, because they endlessly make fun of you or roll their eyes at you. I know, I’ve been there, and it hurts, a lot. And you might be reading all of this saying that I’m an exception, that somehow I got to where I am, but that is not the norm.
Maybe you are right. But maybe, there are thousands and thousands of people who are sick of being sick. Maybe there are people just like me who are willing to start learning the truth, and maybe what you are writing, what you are saying, what you are practicing will be the thing that helps them get off the tracks.
It is not easy. If you are vegan or vegan curious, I will not lie to you and tell you either side of this is easy. It’s hard to have so many positive life changes and then not go running out on the streets like a mad woman to let people know. Remember, if you are vegan, you weren’t always vegan. Something, someone got you to listen, something you did, something you read, something you watched. And I can also bet that it wasn’t overnight. So my advice? Be patient. Show hope where and anyway that you can. Know that people are going to be nasty, mean, and call you names. Know that for every ONE of those people there are people, who were just like me, taking it all in, watching a documentary that you recommend, reading a book you send, reading a blog post, reading an article. Know that I was a complete jerk to people just like you , if we had met five years ago, chances are you would not have liked me at all, and I would have completely ignored you, and I would have gone back to my circles and make fun of every thing you stood for. And now, here we are. I am so glad that there were people who did not give up, because all of those people? Those were the people who changed and saved my life, and for that I will be forever grateful.
And to those of you who are vegan curious? It’s okay. Breathe. Like so many things in life, this is all a journey. One that I hope we can stay on together. And one that I hope I don’t scare you from somehow, because that would kind of be tragic. Do not let any of the negative thoughts or the things you have heard in the past get in the way of you finding out what is best for you and your body. Do not let anything get in your way. Because you are completely worth it.