As a growing teen, I’ve received so many questions and doubts about my choice to go vegan from friends and relatives alike. People are often incredulous when they hear that I don’t eat meat, eggs and dairy products. I don’t exactly blame them; after all, it’s a universal norm to consume all these animal products, without a second thought.
Yet, I wonder if they’ve ever truly stopped to think about their daily actions, and our role in nature as humans. It baffles me when people argue that veganism is too extreme. “Animal welfare is enough”, they say. “You can just go pescetarian or try to eat less meat. There isn’t a need to go so far as to cut out all animal products.”
To me, what is extreme, is that over 52 billion land animals are killed every year for our own pleasure (Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations).
What is extreme, is the 683 gallons of water needed to produce just 1 gallon of milk; the 2,400 gallons of water used to produce 1 pound of beef (Dr. George Borgstrom, Michigan State University).
Learn more about virtual water at thewaterweeat.com
What is extreme, is how we as humans can knowingly inflict harm on our fellow sentient beings without a single drop of guilt.
We all know that meat is a product of a dead animal, but it’s difficult to draw a connection between the food on our plate and the mass killing happening in slaughterhouses. We choose to ignore that connection, because it’s easier not to care. But speaking from personal experience, choosing to educate yourself on it is one of the best decisions you could possibly make.
2 years ago, I adopted a vegan lifestyle because I could no longer stand by the mass suffering, and…boy, this entire process is incredibly fulfilling and self-enriching. Veganism has given me a newfound sense of purpose and passion. Now, it is hard to imagine how I’d once been so ignorant as to what was happening behind the slaughterhouse walls, so oblivious to the big corporations and their misleading marketing schemes. It is such a powerful feeling knowing that I’m no longer part of the violence and exploitation in the animal industry.
We only have one shot at this life, so why not try to do as little harm as possible while we’re here? Being vegan isn’t as challenging as people make it out to be; it’s just unfamiliar. But that’s part of the fun — exploring, learning, growing. I can spend up to hours in the kitchen experimenting with whole foods and creating new dishes (though on busy days it’s also possible to whip up a delicious, wholesome meal in 5 minutes!) Not to mention all the positive changes: my skin is glowing, my mental health has improved significantly, and most importantly, I feel better than ever. Of course no one could ascertain these are a direct result of the change in my diet, but I believe it’s got something to do with my conscience — I’m no longer eating foods I attribute to pain and death; I’m feeding by body whole, natural foods and it feels absolutely amazing.
I’m not one to force my values down other people’s throats, but I do believe in spreading joy and kindness, and that’s want veganism is about. I hope others can experience all these incredible changes too.
I promise you, you won’t regret embarking on this journey. You just have to take the first step.
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