When I really got into personal development, health, and fitness a few summers ago. I came across veganism. This new rage was growing in popularity, but the idea of not having ANY animal products perplexed me. My dad was vegetarian and so were a couple of my friends and family members, but wasn’t that hard enough already? What was this? This spark of curiosity led me to a week full of intense researching, reading, and watching documentaries until I finally became vegan at 5:00 a.m. on July 4th, 2014. At this point, however, I’m merely a vegetarian. Keep reading to find out why:
If I could sum up why I became vegan/vegetarian in 2 videos, here they are – the first and the last video I watched before making this decision:
This is an extremely powerful video, and I was shattered after watching this. All of what you are watching in this video are every day, un-isolated cases that have been recorded through a hidden camera. This documentary brings awareness to one of the greatest extents of human savagery, and this is exactly why you need to watch it. Choosing out of ignorance is one thing but choosing despite it is another.
2. Best Speech You Will Ever Hear – Gary Yourofsky
If you were ever wondering what I was doing up at 5 a.m. the morning of July 4th, 2014, this video is the reason why. Gary Yourofsky addresses the most common vegan questions, solutions, and call-to-actions in a very compelling way.
Obviously, these mere two videos not the extent of my research. There are plenty of books out there advocating veganism, but my study consisted of these books, documentaries, and websites including:
- The China Study (The “bible” of all vegan books in my opinion)
– Investigates the linkage between animal protein, cancer rates, and bone loss
- Food Inc. (documentary)
- Food Matters (documentary)
- Forks Over Knives (documentary)
- Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (book)
- Finding Ultra by Rich Roll (book)
- The 80/10/10 Diet by Douglas N. Graham (book)
- Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness by Robert Cheeke (book)
- Jeff Sanders (website)
– Honestly, I must give a huge amount of credit to Jeff Sander’s amazing podcast (5 AM Miracle) and website. This is where the basis for my research started, and a lot of these links as well as other resources are listed there.
- OhSheGlows (website)
- No Meat Athlete (website)
- Cadry’s Kitchen (website)
There is a plethora of other websites, resources, and documentaries out there, but that’s what google’s for.
Back to my Journey:
The morning of July 4th, 2014, I dived in headfirst. There was no going back. This was it! I was so excited! They say “if there is a strong enough reason why, the how is inevitable”. My “why” was the torture, the suffering, the beatings, and the slavery the animals had to go through in dairy, meat, and clothing industries. All the other stuff was just “extra support”. At first, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I made small changes and substitutes (ex. almond milk for milk or tofu for eggs), and giving up meat wasn’t too bad, especially because my family never ate too much of it. In fact, I even enjoyed the attention, and it felt satisfying to stand up for something I strongly believed in.
I made tiny, unknowing mistakes along the way, but I was fairly successfully with my salads, quinoa, veggie patties, and other delicious recipes. Over time, however, my willpower gradually started fading away. Constantly denying myself mouth-savoring cookies, cakes, and sweets and constantly checking labels on food was tiring. At home, I would many times resort to “vegan” junk food to fight urges and cravings when there wasn’t satiating “vegan” food around. Around month 3, I cheated intentionally once or twice, but disaster struck the weekend after Halloween when I was home alone. I binged on most of all the sweet, sugary, delicious milk-filled candy I could find. “Screw it,” I thought. For the next month, my mind went into total-rebel-mode in order to compensate for the lack of some nutrients. Ironically, it wasn’t the meat that I wanted; it was the dairy – understandably. Dairy has casein in it, an addictive property, and is commonly paired with society’s favorite addiction, sugar, in sweets, cookies, etc.
All-in-all, I was under-prepared, and my environment didn’t support me. Though my parents, hesitant at first, supported me, they regularly bought non-vegan products for themselves, and my constant exposure and mental denial to this food didn’t help as my willpower reserves eventually ran out. It wasn’t their fault; it was just our lifestyle.
So wait, Manmitha, are you for veganism or not?
There are so many places I could with this one question. I could rant about how animals are abused, how meat and dairy products are a lie, how there is a difference between a plant-based diet and veganism, how willpower accounts to this, etc. In the end, however, it just really depends on your body, environment, beliefs, and what works for you. I consider myself a Lacto-Ovo vegetarian now (or dare I say…..flexitarian even), because this is what works for me and what my body wants, but then again, who knows how long this will last? I’ll have to live with knowing another being is suffering for me despite its products being “organic” or “free-range”, but at this point in my life, it’s unrealistic for me to live completely cruelty-free.
Above all of this, the most important thing I’ve learned is to eat clean, nourish your body and listen to what it wants. I don’t care what you are or how you eat, but when you serve your body, love and respect it, and give it the right nutrients it needs, it will serve you. With that in mind, I do recommend experimenting with vegetarian, plant-based, gluten-free, or clean-eating lifestyles. Don’t beat yourself up for it if you fall off the wagon, but if it works, stick to it.
Shoot me an email or a comment if you have any questions!
Happy experimenting 🙂