Vegetarian, Part Time Vegan: I do not eat meat including seafood. For the most part, dairy and all animal products are out of my diet and my beauty care but I will still mindfully consume it in small amounts from time to time.
It all started with my acne. I am 24 years old, almost 25 and I still had at least three huge pimples on my face on any given day. I had so many large blackheads on my nose that they started to look more like dark freckles. When I was younger, I thought that acne was just a puberty thing and that it would subside when I was 21 and surely when I turned 25. Not the case.
So, I upped my skin care routine and my face cleared a bit but I still wasn’t fully satisfied. A few months ago, I did an experiment where I tried my best (again, no where near perfect) to be vegan for an entire month and I remembered my skin clearing up a bit during that point too. Maybe if I paired my new skin care routine with being vegetarian/part-time vegan I could finally have the skin I wanted.
And so my journey began. Ironically, when I logged into Netflix that night a few new documentaries were in my suggestions list including “Cowspiracy”, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” and “What the Health” which are all beautifully written, well-done documentaries about the meat and dairy industries. Seriously, the journalism in my blood was pumping at rapid rates from watching these…
What started with acne now turned it something a little more…
1. An animal is an animal, the only difference is your perception
I binged watched these documentaries on my couch one morning while drinking some coffee. Half way through one of them, my dog trotted down the stairs and stood in front of the tv and stared at me, ears perked and eyes intent. This is something he often does when he is ready to go for our usual morning walk. I looked at him. He looked at me. I looked back to the TV screen where a cow was grazing in a field. I looked back at him.
I wouldn’t ever eat my dog. Ever. The fact that some countries have dog meat markets has always horrified me…but how was that any different from eating a pig, cow or chicken? An animal is an animal. The corpse on my plate was a corpse no matter what kind of animal it used to be.
I wanted to puke.
There is a particularly powerful scene in “Cowspiracy” where you watch a duck’s head get chopped off and I seriously couldn’t do it. I closed my eyes but then I could hear it happening so instead I just skipped past it. I couldn’t even watch a duck be slaughtered let alone a cow or pig and I definitely couldn’t do it myself. So, why was I having others do it for me?
Seeing the duck reminded me of another wonderful documentary series called “Huang’s World” which is about a man who travels globally to explore different cultures and foods. Normally, I love watching and learning about other cultures but I remember one particularly painful episode a few years ago where a few men brutally slaughtered this poor goat who was crying and struggling until they hacked his head off.
A cheeseburger suddenly didn’t seem so appealing anymore…
2. I feel a closer connection to the environment
If you asked my mother, she would tell you what a terror I am about recycling. I will, no lie, go digging through my family’s garbage to pull out things that can be put into the recycling bin instead. When me and my dog go for walks, I will come home with stray pop cans and other garbage that I scrapped up to throw in the recycling bin.
Since I have bought my car, it has never been taken off of “eco” mode. My showers are much shorter than they used to be. I turn off the water when brushing my teeth. I stopped using straws. I cut through the plastic pop can holders before recycling them.
And these are all wonderful things… but the other morning I walked outside with my dog and for the first time I felt this unbelievable sensation of being connected to the earth and all of it’s life.
And I guess I could sit here and list off facts and articles and websites about how animal agriculture is destroying the earth but the one thing I did not find on the internet was what it felt like to not be a contributing number to those statistics anymore, at least not a major contributor.
Let me tell you, it was incredibly moving and empowering.
3. My own health is worth it
Right next to cigarette smoking, processed meat is classified as a carcinogen, something that is likely to cause cancer in humans, as stated in this article by the American Cancer Society.
Yeah, no thanks.
Besides actively avoiding cancer, my skin has cleared up a little bit more. I have taken three boxing classes since and each time I have been impressed by how much more I could do without being exhausted. I haven’t had the need to drink coffee in over a week to stay awake and get through the day. Instead, I can drink it because I want to and because I enjoy the taste.
Maybe the most surprising thing that happened took place in my left foot. Typically, I have bad inflammation in my big toe’s joint and some days it hurt to walk. Since changing over, my foot does not hurt nearly as bad as it once did. I can do mountain climbers, pushups with both feet on the ground instead of one-legged pushups and most importantly I haven’t had any pain with walking. It’s not cured. I still feel a bit of discomfort but it’s not what it used to be.
Making the choice to go vegetarian with a strong effort to be vegan was a hard choice. At first I looked at it as I was losing something or restricting myself and now it’s become this whole new adventure and appreciation for life in general. I’ve been exposed to new foods, new beauty products, new feelings in my body that I didn’t really know I could feel.
My body suddenly became less of a tomb and more of a beautiful, lush garden.
Check out my pinterest for vegan recipes: https://www.pinterest.com/hisfirstmate1/vegan-meals/