Why Am I Vegan? And Why Are You Not?

It’s a question all vegans get asked: why are you vegan? And it’s actually one of the hardest questions to answer even though the answer is simple. Why am I vegan?

If I were only allowed a brief answer to this question it would be:

What is there about a non-vegan diet that could possibly attract anyone? I am vegan for every single reason that exists under the sun.

Soraya

(My) Reasons to Be Vegan

Pain, Suffering & Cruelty

This is my number one reason, long before I knew anything about anything, I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to eat an animal. Hurt an animal. Kill an animal. Or how someone could say in the same breath ‘I love animals. I fancy some fish ‘n chips’.

To be honest, I spent most of my life feeling as though I were an alien because I saw that people around me believed it totally normal and therefore JUST FINE to kill & eat animals.

I spent my whole young life (as a vegetarian) being verbally attacked by people who would pick an argument with me. The arguments got repetitive; I heard them all.

I didn’t know any other vegetarians let alone vegans, apart from within my own family, so I was used to being the odd one out. It felt as though I belonged to a different branch of the human species.

And I didn’t want to partake in animal cruelty.

Save the Planet

Errrrrm excuse me . . . I find it so difficult to explain something that looks so simple, essential, vital, logical, necessary and obvious. I mean hello? We live on this planet!

Why wouldn’t we want to take care of it? Of it and all its inhabitants?

Saving the planet isn’t something that motivated me to become vegan because I didn’t know anything about it, but going vegan’s a bit like that, it leads you on a wonderful path of discovery and learning.

And as you learn more, the more you want to learn.

The simple simple premise is, let’s make as little harm as we can.

I love that.

Let’s share the love!

I grew up in a time or a place or both, when there was something bad about openly displaying your feelings of love. It made you weak. We grew walls and boundaries and fortresses around ourselves.

Love isn’t weak.

Love is strong and it takes a lot of unlearning to become completely open and wear your heart on your sleeve. But if everyone wanted to, what an amazing society we would be part of.

But hey, not everyone wants peace, love & passive living, but if you do, these days you can make that choice. And you won’t be alone like I was. Nowadays we have an amazing community of vegans growing by the day, sharing the love for our planet and all its inhabitants.

Health

Health also wasn’t a motivating factor for me but I’m certainly healthier and very grateful for that. I love it that my food is healthy. In fact my food’s the best for heart health, low cholesterol a strong immunity and longevity.

So while I can be happy and in love with my plateful of scrumptious food I can also be sure that I’m giving my body the best nutrition I can.

Additives

I hate the fact that we’ve got to the stage where so many people buy a product and just eat it. No questions asked. They believe that if something was toxic it wouldn’t be allowed in their pizza/steak/burger.

No reading the ingredients let alone knowing what those ingredients are. I hate it even more that the food industry loads foods with toxic ingredients in order to raise the profits of that food.

How many television adverts are there, advertising the latest margarine, yogurt, cereal or whatever product as being the most healthy thing since sliced bread? What makes it ok to advertise something as healthy?

People believe it. People believe the TV.

The food industry isn’t created with the intention of making the population healthy. For the large part, it’s created to make a profit but times are changing and if you want to be healthy you can now choose products that really are created with health in mind.

Or better still, choose whole foods instead.

Taste

The answer to this is twofold: firstly, I’m completely in love with the taste of whole vegan foods. The flavours jump off my tongue and I definitely have more appreciation of flavour than a lot of omnivores I know.

Secondly, even if I liked the flavour of something non-vegan a lot, there’s no way I could justify the pain and suffering that went into making it just to satisfy my taste buds. Plus it would no longer taste good to me because once the subconscious is aware of something horrendous, it will affect our conscious reaction. So when you cross a line to really knowing the horrors that take place in the name of our food industry, when you really really believe it, then that food can no longer taste good.

Imagine if you were made to eat something you find repulsive by idea, say dog meat or cat meat or worms or whatever it is for you. No matter how tasty that food, that won’t make you want to eat if you really believe it’s wrong to do so.

I used to be a cheese addict. I used to think you could have a cow with her calf and take some of the milk from the cow while the calf still lives its happy little life. I used to be unaware and uneducated of the truth behind the dairy industry. As soon as I crossed the line I no longer wanted cheese.

I didn’t ‘give it up’ and crave it. I became repelled by it. I don’t want to eat cheese. I don’t want to support the cruelty, pain and suffering that goes into making that product.

Why Veganism is on the Up

These days, a lot of people are realising that the cruelty of the meat/dairy industry is real. That it isn’t the one-off but rather the norm.

And that the meat industry is one of the most damaging industries of all time for destroying our planet. For more information about this, you might like to read why choose veganism for the environment.

Luckily there is a growing awareness and ever increasing demand for change as people become aware. But is it enough? Are we moving fast enough to put a stop to this machine?

The three primary reasons for becoming vegan are:

  • barbaric treatment of animals in the meat, dairy & fishing industries
  • terrible impact of the meat, dairy & fishing industry on the planet
  • proven health benefits from going vegan

If you’re interested but still at the begining of the journey, you may not have come across Gary Yourofsky yet.

He speaks on behalf of the animals, in a strong no-bullshit kind of way and has helped promote veganism for many years. You can read more about him in Gary Yourofsky and vegan activism.

Once someone’s ‘crossed the line‘, it seems like a blindfold’s been lifted and that’s probably why so many vegans want to spread the word.

Imagine if you were tele-transported back in time to a time in the past where you found yourself watching the Gladiators. You would feel like jumping up and telling everyone that it’s not necessary to have gladiators. You’d want to share your opinion because of the horror of what you’re seeing.

That’s similar as the vegan situation. Once you really really see it, how, you wonder did you not see it before? And so you set out to share the word.

Sheep looking at camera

While getting the word out there is extremely important, it also has a negative side. How many people think that vegans are all a bunch of lecturing, judgemental radicals?

This negative (but not exclusive) perception of a vegan being someone who judges others and wants to change the way other people eat, who tends to be a bit self-righteous is a shame.

There are also arguments within the vegan communities, with vegans sometimes criticising each other for not being vegan enough.

That’s just such a shame. Just because you’re vegan, doesn’t make you perfect. None of us are perfect. We all do things that in the future we’ll realise were not good. It’s inevitable because we don’t know everything there is to know. Not by a long shot.

We don’t all want pedantic arguments about the meaning of the word vegan or the ‘rules’ by which you must live if you’re going to label yourself with the name v-e-g-a-n. Or even if you’re not, come to that.

We all have our own ways and they will not be the same, so here I’m going to share my ideas and if they resonate with you, or if you have any comments, feel free to leave them at the end of the post.

The main point is that all lives matter and we vegans are doing the best we can in the times we live in to reduce the damage, pain and abuse which we cause.

Firstly, What IS Vegan (hmm…to me, that is)

Ok, so for every vegan you’ll find an opinion, but the most important thing is that it’s quite simply just a journey. A never ending journey of trying to support the things you believe in.

What We All Agree On:

A vegan is somebody who chooses not to eat any form of animal products, not partake in any form of animal cruelty and not use, wear or otherwise partake in the exploitation of animals or their by-products.

That much is clear.

What We Don’t All Agree On:

two sheep looking at camera
Wool isn’t usually part of the vegan lifestyle

Example argument: one vegan says to the other that they can’t call themselves vegan because they eat honey. Or drink beer & wine (yes, wine and beer use animal products in their production unless labelled vegan). Or eat free range eggs. Or have pet sheep for the wool. Or whatever it is they do that is not as strict vegan as the person who is commenting thinks they should be.

But I think they’re missing the point.

If you take it as true that vegans share a respect for peaceful, non-violent living, without causing (intentional) suffering to animals, and if you add to that an intent to help slow down the climatic crisis and reduce our carbon footprint, and if you also believe that vegans maybe don’t like to buy products which are filled with unhealthy hidden ingredients (aka crap), then I have a question: why the hell argue over someone doing it more or less?

Why not agree that we’re all after the same goal? Punto (as they say in Spanish). Or, translated to English: full stop. Nothing to argue about.

One thing’s for sure, if you’re pointing your finger at someone for not doing it well enough, someone else can turn around and do the same to you. Because none of us can be fully informed, fully perfect in everything we do. We can only do our best with the information we have.

And while one person’s busy criticising someone for not being vegan, that person can criticise the vegan (as an example) for taking too many flights in a year, or for not recycling well enough, or for not buying clothes from ethical companies. Depending on what priorities you hold dear. And the list goes on.

My priority is being vegan and I truly love all animals so I abhor the pain and suffering they are subjected to, but I also want to support other changes too. I want to help save the planet.

The truth is, there’s just too much learning needed before we can be proud enough of our footprint that we can justify pointing a finger at others. There’s too much change needed. So I believe we should all stop criticising each other for not doing enough, and instead focus on how we can all help more and keep learning more.

And do our little bit, whatever that might be.

Philosophy Behind Being Vegan – for me

In a nutshell, for me the philosophy behind being vegan is about not supporting animal suffering for our pleasure (taste).

And not eating another living being when it is not necessary to do so. (And no, I’m not stranded on a dessert island with nothing to eat except the animals and fish around me. This used to be a common and ridiculous argument against vegetarianism!)

When you see a lovely photo of a calf and you say ‘Ahhh how beautiful‘ and then you sit down to eat your steak there’s a huge contradiction going on. I don’t have that struggle. I don’t eat animals and never will.

As well as protecting the lives of animals, I’m also against eating crap that’s added to our foods, and more recently (because I wasn’t aware of the extent of its impact), it’s also about reducing the harmful emissions which are helping to create the climatic crisis.

Why You May Want to Go Vegan

I’m vegan for every reason that exists. My number one reason is the animals and the disgusting treatment which the animals receive in the processing of the meat or dairy products. I couldn’t bear to see them suffer so it would be hypocritical to eat them even if I wanted to (which I don’t).

Because of an aversion to all animal suffering I started to read more about the industry and its negative effects, and I soon came to realise that this is also about saving the planet. Finally, health is an essential ingredient in anybody’s life and I feel that this is the healthiest thing I can do for my body and soul.

Here are some of the reasons you may actually want to go vegan:

You Don’t Always See What’s in Front of You

It’s as though we’ve been living in an altered reality and that we’re finally beginning to wake up from it.

We all took some magic mushrooms, and on our collective trip we began buying as many ‘things‘ as possible; eating the cheapest, most brightly-packaged food, and filling up on as much alcohol/drug/stimulus as possible.

On top of that we learned to throw everything away as soon as it became slightly worn or aged. Throw it away and buy it again, new. And we didn’t even realise what we were doing.

The More Syndrome: Eat more, drink more, smoke more and buy more – all for as little money as possible. And the result is that we’ve created a monster. A commercial world that cares only for profit and that lets moral requirements fly out the window while the smile of greed spreads across the face of the mechanics which oil the wheels of industry.

Everything is acceptable in business, as long as it’s making money. And why is that? Why is it that anything is allowed when it wouldn’t be in someone’s private life? The answer is that creating a profit is more important than following any set of morals.

And supplying the hungry monster of commerce becomes a self feeding, ever-growing world of human, animal and planet, abuse.

Animal Abuse

When I was vegetarian I naively believed that it was only the meat industry which caused suffering. I’ve since found that to be completely untrue. Yet for many people, giving up cheese can still be one of the most difficult concepts. In that case, it can help to know how to make simple and delicious dairy-replacement things like vegan parmesan, vegan Spanish omelette, vegan mayonnaise & vegan cheeses.

Many of the practices which take place in the food and dairy industry can only be accepted because we (generally and collectively) close our eyes to the fact that these are living sentient beings. We treat them like a product and we tell ourselves that it’s okay.

Back in the time of slavery people did a very similar thing, they closed their eyes to the disgraceful treatment of slaves and said it was okay.

The purpose of this post is not to go into all the various horrific abusive treatments but if it interests you, you’ll find plenty of educational videos on Youtube.

Among others, The Game Changers and Cowspiracy have had a huge impact on many people. And as well as movies, one of the most influential animal liberation activists, who has directly and indirectly influenced many people to become vegan, is Gary Yourofsky.

Additives in Food

It makes absolutely no sense that we eat toxins (aka poisons) because they’ve been added to the chain food to increase the profit/durability/appearance etc. of the food. And we’ve learnt to think that’s just fine and dandy.

It’s like, ‘Hello? What did you say? You’ve put some arsenic in my drink because that way it’s cheaper to produce?’ (Of course I’m not saying there’s arsenic in your food – I sure hope not! – but you get the point.)

There are antibiotics and hormones and steroids, and molecules that have nothing to do with food at all added to our food. And still we go to the shop and buy the stuff that’s full of additives which are proven to create disease, which then costs us a fortune in lost work hours, medical fees, medicine costs and ultimately quality of life.

My belief on food is that we should all eat (if we want to) ‘real food’. And by ‘real food’, I mean it should fit two criteria:

  • It should have been produced honouring the sources (animals, workers, planet) and treating them with fair-trade honour and respect.
  • It should be natural, without added harmful chemicals, hormones or other non-food stuff.

You can have such taste home cooked vegan meals without all the rubbish of commercial foods, like delicious stuffed eggplants, or a buddha bowl, vegetable ‘nasi’ rice, vegan ‘bami’ noodles and a coconut curry with rice or vegan eggplant parmesan to mention just a few.

We don’t all have time to cook everything fresh but we all have time enough to research the products we buy and to check than we are supporting ethical companies. So let’s start doing it.

Climatic Changes and Saving the Planet

For me, I was definitely a vegan primarily because I couldn’t bear the idea of the animal suffering so it came as quite a surprise to me to discover the extent and importance of the vegan model for helping to save the planet.

It became a no-brainer for me. The sheer volume and demand for ever increasing quantities of meat etc are directly contributing to our planet climate crisis. You can read more about it in the post, going vegan for the planet and read about the movie Cowspiracy: the sustainability secret.

The leather Industry

When I was vegetarian, I used to believe that leather was the by-product of the meat industry and that animals weren’t actually made to suffer directly because of the leather. I also thought that when the industry became ethical and treated the animals right, it would be better to use the leather than to throw it away (if an animal dies for example).

Leather often comes from animals who have lived a life of misery and abuse, from birth til death.

I was very wrong in my basic concept. Leather is a huge industry in its own right.

In some ways it’s even worse than the meat industry because it isn’t as regulated, so the animals can be raised in barbaric conditions, live a life of misery and be killed in the most inhumane way, all so that we can wear a leather boots on our feet.

The barbaric treatment of the animals in the leather industry may not take place in your country, but the products made from the leather of those tortured lives will end up on the shelves in your country.

When I realised how wrong my previous belief had been, I wondered why I hadn’t gone vegan years before. I wondered why I hadn’t educated myself on the leather industry sooner. Why I hadn’t woken up sooner. But that’s exactly what happens to all of us, our lives continue and unless something calls our attention, we have limited ability to un-learn the things we think we understand.

How Can I Help You?

I’ve been vegetarian all my life and vegan for several years now, so I’ve had extensive experience with a vegan, plant based lifestyle (as well as being gluten free) and I would love to share any aspect of veganism that may be helpful to you.

Whether you’re a part time vegan or 100% committed, I am here to support you in your journey and ultimately save you time and energy by sharing the pitfalls and the gains which I’ve discovered along the way.

If you’re wondering what to cook for a vegan meal check out this vegan dinner recipe suggestion.

And if you’re hoping to improve your energy levels, lose fat or stabilise your energy levels, check out the post on intermittent fasting for vegans and be sure to learn about the astonishing effects of vitamin B12, which we do need to supplement as vegans.

As well as these tips, it’s incredible just how powerful hibiscus tea is for lowering high blood pressure as well as having other important health benefits, and for a vegan source of omega 3 it’s important to eat ground flax seed with your meal once a day.

Another source of omega 3 and a great addition to your daily food is hemp seed which you can read about in benefits of eating hemp seed on a gluten free vegan diet.

And recently I’ve been playing around with how to reduce the effects of menopause which I wrote about in 5 steps to beat menopause naturally.

Do you want to go completely vegan, eat vegan a few times a week, or simply cut down on eating meat?

Let me know in the comments! And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @loveveganliving

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