Veganniversary

Nine years ago today, on my eighteenth Easter, I began the transition to a vegan diet. It’s always tough for me to know what to say when people ask me about when I became vegan. I probably wasn’t actually fully vegan until a couple of years later. More like a vegetarian, trying to make it to vegan. But I still want to give myself credit for those years I spent figuring things out. I’m not sure if other vegans count that transitional period as part of their vegan life or their pre-vegan life. I suppose some people might not have stumbled so much in the beginning like I did either.

My point is that I think intentions matter. I’m not trying to justify the support I gave to a monstrous industry out of personal weakness. I’m just saying that as an online community, vegans can be pretty ruthless to one another. I use to be one of these more ruthless vegans. I couldn’t help but lash out at vegetarians or vegans with “cheat days.” When it comes to such a serious and heart-rending issue as the lives and wellbeing of billions of animals, it’s only natural to get a little heated. However, it is also easy to turn a blind eye to our own past failings.

This post isn’t about calling out other vegans or myself. It’s about reminding myself and other long-time vegans out there not to forget where we came from. After nearly a decade adapting to this lifestyle, it can be easy to forget how impossible the change once seemed. Even though now it can be frustrating to hear people asking you the same ridiculous questions that they always have, keep answering them kindly. Keep being patient, even when you’d rather scream. A kind, thoughtful answer may not make the questioner go vegan, but a harsh response is guaranteed to turn them away from the idea entirely.

If you’ve read my other posts you may wonder why I even bother to care anymore. After all, I’ve said many times that I believe it’s too late to save the planet and life on earth as we know it. So why continue being vegan? Why do I care if other people go vegan or not? The simple answer to that question is suffering. I have always been sensitive to the idea of suffering. The mere existence of it is what caused me to lose my faith in a loving, all powerful god. And if there is no god to protect the innocent, I will. Or at the very least, I’ll do my best not to contribute to their suffering.

The crazy thing is that it doesn’t even feel like a conscious effort any more. I think one of the hard parts about going vegan is making that mental connection each time you decide what you’re going to eat or buy at the store. In the beginning making the right choice causes you pain because it makes you reflect on your impact in the world and the immense suffering and injustice that exists all around us. It is tempting to turn away, fall back into old habits, avoid thinking about it entirely. However, once veganism has become that comfortable, familiar habit, these painful feelings are reversed. The other day someone asked me if I would ever eat meat again. The idea alone left a bad taste in my mouth. I can’t even bring myself to look at the meat section in the grocery store. Those “foods” are a painful reminder of the atrocities humanity perpetrates on our innocent brethren. To eat a piece of meat is to eat a piece of flesh. It would be a willful decision to cast aside everything that I believe in in a way that it never was before going vegan. It would be simply impossible for me, painful even.

This drastic shift of consciousness that a vegan lifestyle elicits can make it hard for us to relate to the meat-eating masses. It’s tempting to try to forget that I was once one of them. When people ask me, I want to tell them that veganism was never a difficult choice to make, that it was always easy. But I am always honest instead. I tell them that it was hard for a long time. I tell them that I initially transitioned for selfish reasons, not out of a moral obligation to the animals I was eating. I tell them about the foods I miss eating and haven’t been able to replace. I let them know all of this. But I also let them know that despite all of that, becoming vegan was worth it. Becoming vegan was the best decision I ever made in my life. I would say I’m proud of that decision, but it just seems ridiculous to take pride in not harming others when that should be the default.

So if you are reading this post and you are not vegan, know that I don’t harbor any hatred or resentment towards you. I certainly don’t consider myself better than you, like a lot of people assume vegans do. What I hope you take with you from reading this is that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Choosing a salad instead of a steak at a single meal is a reason to rejoice. Deciding not to add cheese or a creamy dip or adding a non-dairy creamer to your coffee or switching to a plant based milk at home, these are all wonderful, meaningful steps to take that make a difference. And I don’t mean make a difference for the world necessarily, I mean they make a difference for the animals. It may seem like an abstract statistic when we think about meat and dairy sales, simple facts and figures. An output two digits smaller than the year before may seem utterly insignificant, but just remember that those numbers are lives, sweet, precious babies, like the pets your have at home. And these small choices make a difference to them. So just do your best. Do whatever you can, no matter how small. If a mentally ill, eighteen-year-old can go vegan on Easter and still being going strong nine years later, anyone can do it.

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com

Cast Your Vote

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Ever since I was very young, I was taught the importance of voting. In school we learn about how hard our country fought for individual freedoms and the ability to choose those who govern them. We’re taught that even though we are only one person, our say matters and can lead to change. These values are the heart and soul of the United States.

However, it seems that this principle applies in many other areas of life outside of politics, but continues to go unnoticed by many. What else has history taught us? That money makes the world go ’round. Therefore, as individuals and as a society, we need to pay attention to and be cautious of what we spend our money on.

For each item that you buy, you are casting your vote that you would like to see more of this product and everything that went into making it and getting it to your local stores. In this way, becoming a vegan can make a practical influence on the world. This is the connection I think many people are failing to make. It may be easy to love animals, yet still find it easy to eat meat because there is such a large distance between the practices of factory farms, the act of killing an animal and seeing its pain and suffering.

Sadly, ignoring the harsh realities behind the steak on your dinner plate will not make them cease to exist. Each time you stop at McDonald’s, buy deli meat, or pick up some bacon for your breakfast the next morning, you are casting your vote as a citizen of this society. You are saying you approve and support the product and its means. We can never expect these horrible atrocities and business practices to stop if we continue to finance them. We need to stand up and make an effort to produce the change we want to see in the world.

Don’t vote for violence. ❤

The Responsibility of Being Human

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It seems to be agreed upon by the vast majority of the world, than humans are different, superior, to the other animals that inhabit this earth. I would agree except, instead, I would say that human beings have the potential to be great. However, as things stand right now, we are merely more pompous and self-righteous.

You see, as humans we have been blessed and cursed with a large capacity for intellect and understanding. We can conceive of the future, for ourselves and for things beyond us, we recognize death, and we comprehend the intricate relationship between our actions, individually and as a species, on each other and our world.

Up until this point in our progression as a species, we have been selfish, as would be expected. We, like any other animal, strive to secure our place in this world and ensure our survival and comfort. However, we have long since achieved these goals. With the technology we have created and the availability of information and resources that we have accumulated, there is no longer any excuse for us to continue existing is such a short-sighted and selfish manner.

It is time that we set aside our childish pleasures that we know to harm the earth and even ourselves. We must do what is best for all of the world and its inhabitants. We have the power to do so. Human beings are capable of so much more. It is time for us to realize what is important and stop behaving like we have no control over our fates and the fate of our world. Together we could create a utopia. We could live with nature instead of against it, if only greed was not so many people’s driving force.

Open your hearts. Use your heads. We do not have much time left to us. We owe it to ourselves and to the world to utilize our sublime ability to reason and understand and act. Let us help each other to reach enlightenment. Don’t live your life in comfortable ignorance. Do your part to spread intelligence and joy and tolerance. We say that we are more than animals. Let’s start showing it.

Stay peaceful, fellows. ❤

The Frustration of Veganism

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You often hear people discuss the “challenges” of becoming vegan such as limiting yourself, constantly having to read ingredients, not being able to eat at certain restaurants, expenses, etc. However, no one ever mentioned to me the most difficult part of veganism: other people. The constant battle that you face everyday is having to justify yourself to ignorant, inconsiderate, and often down-right rude people.

Before becoming vegan, I was, of course, exposed to the classic holier-than-thou vegan stereotype. I never thought much of it, but after becoming vegan myself, it is infuriating. As a vegan, you are questioned and criticized at every turn (at least if you are from an area like I am.) But if you even attempt to defend yourself, then you are just some “crazy” tree-hugger that thinks you are better than everyone else.

You are expected to have endless references from which you acquired your knowledge, yet no one else seems to need any kind of justification for their false statements about meat and dairy and protein and whatnot. I would have hoped that by this point in history that people would know that just because something is widely believed, does not make it true. I just cannot for the life of me understand what these vegan critics want from us.

Vegans are the victims of endless jokes and ribbing that we are supposed to just brush off. Well, I am fed up with it. This is not just some silly game to make ourselves feel important. Why would so many people make such a drastic change from the ordinary just to feel superior? We are clearly standing up for the things we believe. I am sorry that that seems to threaten so many people out there. If you don’t want to lend a hand in saving our environment, your own body, and millions of innocent lives, then that is your problem, but don’t you dare try to make me feel silly for doing so. Even if the world is too far gone to save, I will not be a part of its destruction and it sickens me that so many people would rather do that than open their minds to a new way of living and admit that we as a species have been selfish and careless.

Time to stand up for our Mother Earth, my loves. ❤

Do Not Buy These Products!

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I am not certain how other grocery stores around the country (or world) are set up, but the ones in my area seem to be purposefully misleading. The stores that I frequent generally contain all of the strictly vegan food products that I buy in a designated area. It is sometimes labeled the organic section. This is very convenient, but can also be quite frustrating.

Frequently, I still find myself scanning over many items among the selection that are not vegan or not even vegetarian. These items such as “organic eggs” or “grass-fed beef” are set among vegan products as just another “healthful alternative” to more commonplace foods. However, as we vegans know, this is not the case. Despite packaging labels like “free-range” we know that these foods are still contributing to the abuse and subjugation of our animal friends and that meat and dairy, no matter how it is raised or processed, is still unhealthy for the human body.

The brand Go Veggie!, shown above, is one example of this misleading situation. For the first few years of exploring the vegan and vegetarian lifestyle, I saw this green packaging, suggestive brand name, and lactose free label and bought this product countless times under the impression that it must be a vegan cheese alternative. However, after finally reading the ingredients on the back of the package, I saw that these “cheddar flavor slices” did contain a small amount of dairy!

I was alarmed and outraged. It seems like brands such as this one are purposefully trying to obtain more customers by deceiving them. Not only that, this cheese tastes awful! It is not nearly as close to the taste of cheese as are true vegan alternatives such as Daiya. Upon further investigation of the Go Veggie! brand, I found that they do produce actual dairy free cheese products, so I am not entirely sure why they are even making this alternate, non-vegan, merely lactose-free option. This company just does not sit well with me.

The point is, never let yourself assume that a product is vegan just based on its packaging or placement in the grocery store. As much as we’d all like to stop obsessing over endless lists of ingredients, unless it specifically says it is vegan, there is a good chance that it is not. Don’t let these bullies push their products on us unknowingly. Make sure your money is supporting true vegan brands.

Stay vigilant, my friends. ❤

One Week Down

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Overall, I would have to say that my first week back at college this semester went pretty well. I made some new friends and managed to break out of my shell more than I ever had in my past years on campus. I hope that the rest of the year continues to go this smoothly. I know that I haven’t posted much this week, but I will try to manage my time better in the weeks to come so I will be able to post more. Hope you all had a good week as well. ^_^

Stay positive, dears.

The Stress of College

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I am now more than half way through my first week back at West Liberty University. I am now only taking classes corresponding to my major or minor. I thought that this would give me some sense of relief from the overwhelming stress that I usually experience during the school year. However, I have had no such luck. I have barely been given any assignments thus far and already I am feeling myself caught in the undertow.

I think for many people, college is merely a mental challenge. I, on the other hand, have no problem keeping up with the material or scoring good grades on exams. The thing that makes college a challenge for me is the futility of it all. Luckily, I have been able to receive a full scholarship, but nonetheless, I still sit idly by year after year and watch hundreds of dollars disappear along with countless hours of my life. I just cannot seem to justify this to myself. Yet, I allow it to continue for lack of a better alternative.

I believe for truly intelligent students college can be emotionally exhausting. It is quite difficult to keep yourself interested in something that you feel is a scam and is not really aiding your development. There is no guarantee that a college degree will get me a job and certainly no guarantee that I will be happy with a job in my field even if I do get one. I mean, how are we supposed to know what type of job that we want to have for the rest of our lives straight out of high school? I don’t even know all of the jobs that are available, let alone what it would be like to work at any of them. Even in the best case scenario, college will hand me straight into the working world where I will toil the majority of my life away for just a bit more money than it takes to merely survive. I don’t want that. It is a devastating idea.

But what else am I supposed to do? I don’t have enough faith in my ability in anything else to give up a full scholarship to pursue. I don’t even have time to consider any alternatives because my college classes take up most of my time and energy. I feel as though I am trapped in a raging river heading toward a future that I cannot bear. There must be something better I could be doing with my precious youth. I don’t want to wake up one day full of regret, but what can I do?

Somedays I drown in the thought that I have nothing left to look forward to in my life and that my best days are now behind me. I wish that this country’s education system would have given me more of a chance. I have always felt as though I had something special to offer the world, but maybe I will never discover what that is.

Let me know what your college experience was/is like. How do you deal with such hopeless thoughts? I would gladly accept any ideas or advice.

Stay strong, sweet ones. ❤ 

Branch Out

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Hello dears! Today was my first day back at college for the fall semester. So, as I usually seem to do, I set some new goals for myself this year in West Liberty. I want to make new friends. This may seem like something that wouldn’t need to be a goal, but as I have stated in one of my previous posts, until recently I suffered from a lot of social anxiety. Getting to know people was a terrifyingly and taxing affair.

However, I have been taking the anti-anxiety medication Paxil for almost a year now and am feeling very differently about things. I had been noticing myself getting bored with my life for the past few years, but only after quieting my anxieties have I been able to figure out why that is. I miss knowing people. All of this time I have been getting lost inside my own head. I forgot the joy of the moments like the one pictured above. This is a photo my closest friend for over twelve years took the other night of us talking. This photo really represents to me all of the wonderful and heartfelt conversations that we have had in those twelve years.

I feel the warmth and significance of those encounters and the way we have helped and watched each other grow. I realize now that these moments with other people are one of the most precious things in this life. To discuss abstract concepts and ideologies and really consider and discover the way another person sees the world is a magnificent thing.

Now that I am no longer so nervous around people, I would really like to work on forming more close relationships and seeing the world from some new perspectives. I am tired of living inside my own head and I am curios. I am curious to see if there are any other minds out there as beautiful as my dear friend Valarie’s. 

So let’s all try to be a little more open to new people and new encounters this year. Who knows who you will meet?

Stay peaceful, friends. 

A Daily Dose of Play

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Most people understand that for their animals to remain healthy and happy that they must make sure they get enough exercise. Whether it be going for a walk, playing fetch, or chasing a string, animals need physical exertion to be a part of their day to day routine.

What many people don’t seem to understand though, is that we are also animals. I believe that this means we also need to get a fair amount of exercise. For the past few years I have been running close to nine miles everyday. Granted, that may be a bit excessive for most people, but it has completely transformed my life. 

I feel more alert, stronger, and happier. Daily exercise is almost a form of meditation in a way. The hours I spend at the gym, listening to my favorite music, helps me to clear my mind and burn off all of the stresses of my day. My body and mind feel refreshed and renewed. Now instead of a lethargic and tired, my body feels awake. It is a high-functioning, synchronized machine. Daily exercise has allowed me to be more positive and optimistic than ever before. Also, after 20 years, I can finally say that I love my body.

So, let your inner animal out! Give yourself at least an hour of some type of physical activity every day. I promise you will not regret it!

Stay active, dear ones.

 

The Affiliation Affliction

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In the past few years I have been noticing more and more cars on the road with some type of coal mining pride sticker. They say something along the lines of “proud/girlfriend wife of a coal miner” or some such nonsense. Now, this may seem offensive to some people, but I just cannot understand why you would be proud of that. Coal mining is not a difficult job to acquire. You don’t need a degree or any certain set of special skills. Anyone can become a coal miner. It is a highly dangerous, time-consuming career. Not only that, but it is also destroying our environment. I could understand having a “proud wife/girlfriend of a doctor”, but not a coal miner.

After contemplating this baffling concept for months, I think that I have finally come to a realization. It seems to me that a lot of people think that if they are affiliated with something, then that makes it the best. This irrational point of view can be seen in many aspects of life such as thinking America is the best country simply because you are an American or the undying loyalty to a favorite sports team even after many consecutive losses and change of players/coaches.

This mindset, I believe, is part of the reason why our species cannot seem to move forward towards a more clean and efficient future. I think that these people are feeling threatened by the changes that we so desperately need. They view these things, such as eating meat, as part of who they are. If they admit that any of those things are less than ideal, then they feel that they are a bad person or less than they were. So, thanks to cognitive dissonance, they hold firm to their old ways of thinking and acting.

I just wanted to bring this theory I have been mulling over to light, and to let everyone out there that feels this way know that they are mistaken. No one is perfect. We all tend to be affiliated with something that we later discover was wrong from time to time. This does not make you a bad person. We all have been blessed with beautiful minds that are capable of reason and contemplation. Don’t feel personally threatened by new ways of thinking or new developments in our industries. Some things that we feel a part of (such as coal mining) must collapse in order for us to build a better world. What would our world be today if Thomas Edison had not forsaken his candle making business in order to create the light bulb? Let us all move forward together. There is room for all of us to grow.

Grow with me, my darlings. ❤