A friend told me recently that I should share why I decided to go vegan. Because of my posts, it’s easy to assume I’ve been this way forever. But for a majority of my life, I hated eating vegetables. My roommate/co-worker used to bring straight up vegetable lunches to work and I used to make fun of her. How could anyone have a meal without meat? It was mind blowing to me.
Meanwhile, I always considered myself an “animal lover”. I hated seeing videos of animals being abused but never thought about how they ended up on my plate. During our last visit to the Philippines, my cousins slaughtered a duck for my birthday dinner. I was so distraught by the idea of them killing the poor duck… but later that evening, I didn’t think twice when it was cooked on the table.
That my friends, is classic cognitive dissonance.
When I think about it now, I was more of a “pet lover” versus and animal lover.
I remember the first time I heard the term “vegan”. It was the summer of 2013 and I had a wedding cake consultation with a bride and groom to be. They asked me if I could make them a vegan cake. My initial reaction was “what’s that?” thinking it was some new trendy flavor floating around the wedding boards. When she told me that it was a cake made without eggs and milk, I almost sent them away. She went on to tell me about how the dairy and egg industry was cruel… meanwhile I was tuning her out. How the hell do you make a cake taste good without butter and eggs? I thought the lady was bananas.
One year later, during a routine visit, my doctor requested I get an ultrasound on my breasts because of a couple of lumps. With a week to go before the actual appointment, naturally, I was a basket case. Worst case scenarios consumed my brain and I convinced myself I had breast cancer.
One night at the cake shop, I decided to play some documentaries about food since I’ve heard certain diets can alleviate certain ailments. Forks Over Knives was first on the list and it blew my mind. Food Matters, Vegucated, and Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead followed. By the end of the evening, I made the decision that changed my life.
Going vegan cold turkey.
With my mind overflowing with all of the new information, I decided to go vegan cold turkey the next day. What I learned from those documentaries challenged EVERYTHING I was brought up to believe; what I thought was healthy; and exposed the cruelty in factory farming. The veil was removed and I finally saw the impact of my food choices with perfect understanding. Learning about the health, environmental and animal destruction the meat industry inflicted – there was no way I could continue to support that mess.
The blowback from family
“Good for you, but don’t expect me to go vegan with you.” That was the first thing my husband told me after I told him about my decision. While he was supportive of my choice, he continued to eat like business as usual for awhile. Some day soon, I’ll share his vegan story.
My family, on the other hand were not as supportive. I invited everyone over for dinner one night to share the news. It resulted in a lot of bickering and me crying myself to sleep. This was also the same for extended family get togethers. I quickly learned how intimate food is to people and challenging the conventional food school of thought made people extremely defensive. As a brand new vegan, I was also clueless about what to eat. Add that to a very active lifestyle, I dropped some weight quickly. This gave people more ammo against my new lifestyle. I had an aunt point and poke at me telling me I looked gross and was nothing but skin and bones. I heard countless “mmm bacon”, “human’s are carnivores”, and condescending “jokes” thrown my way those first couple of months.
Those first few months were the hardest. When my resolve wavered, I re-watched documentaries to remind myself why I made the decision in the first place. I decided to let my actions speak louder than my words. I gained weight back and set strength and performance PR’s in the squat rack and my miles. Eventually, people let up with their “jokes” and family eventually started veganizing some food for me.
The best decision ever.
What started out as a health decision turned into an entire lifestyle change. The lumps on my breast that inspired the change turned out to be nothing after all. It became less about me and more about the animals and the environment. Ever since becoming a mother, spreading the message became more important than ever. One of my favorite quotes goes as follows:
we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.
We are all stewards of this planet. We have the responsibility to care for it and ALL of its inhabitants.