As a vegan I care about the environment, but the environment was barely a thought at the back of my mind when I first stopped eating meat. I wanted to become a vegetarian in 2000 when I was 14 years old. I cut into a chicken breast and saw a big, blue vein running through it. I was disgusted and horrified and didn’t want to touch another piece of meat again. My mom, whose favorite snack was seasoned steak fingers, couldn’t understand what I didn’t like about meat. And, even though she was not healthy herself, she didn’t see how a vegetarian diet could be healthy for me. And to be honest, at the time, it wasn’t. I didn’t really know what to eat and my mom didn’t really know what to feed me. The result was me being underweight. So for my health at the time, with the lack of informative resources we had, I stuck to a diet filled with chicken and beef (I stopped eating fish two years before after my goldfish died and eliminated most pork from my dieting thinking I was Jewish). *An important side note: just because you had an unhealthy vegetarian/ vegan diet in the past doesn’t mean you can’t be healthy and prosper with these diets at a future point in your life.
I’m from a good sized town which I like to call the Metropolis of north central Kansas. Bordering all sides of our little-big town are farms. All through high school I would experiment here and there with being a vegetarian, but everyone put me down telling me it was wrong or unhealthy. Just to be clear, none of these people were my friends. My friends were supportive and some of them even tried it out with me. The Negative Nancys were classmates and acquaintances from other schools who found my diet an affront to how they were raised. They were from conservative families who raised cattle and lived for rodeos. I thought there must be something I’m not getting, but now I realize they were the ones who weren’t getting it.
I first switched to the vegetarian diet my freshman year of college when I found out it was okay to not eat me. Everyone was doing it… okay, maybe just one person I only kinda new. But, knowing there was at least one other person on campus who felt the way I did pushed me to embrace my beliefs. Of course, my beliefs at the time were “meat is gross” and “vegetarians taste better.”
It wasn’t until 4 years later that I became what I consider an ethical vegan which led to the natural progression of me being an environmentalist (though aren’t they really one in the same?) Throughout those 4 years I learned a lot about animal welfare and the state of our planet, but it did take some time for me to pull the trigger. I’m thrilled to say that I have been a vegan for 5 years (not having eaten any meat for 9 years), am healthy and fit and I don’t regret a single step on my journey. Sure I may not have been as environmentally friendly as I could have been, but the good thing about veganism is that you just do as much good as you can. That’s it. Go good. Embrace life and the living. Do the least harm to the best of your ability. It’s our little version of the Hippocratic Oath.
You may be wondering what provoked my vegan trip down memory lane. It was this quote which reminded me so much of people I knew growing up and people I’ve met since living in Texas (the Christian thing is a big argument against veganism).
“People get angry at environmentalists because they think they’re slowing down the economy and creating restrictions and a lot of these people are Christian. A lot of these people are very devout Christians and that’s such a confusing thing to me — that if you believed that God gave you the Earth, that God created the Earth for you, why would you not have to look after it?…Why would you not think that when he came back he wouldn’t go, “What the fuck did you do? I GAVE THIS TO YOU MOTHERFUCKERS! ARE YOU CRAZY? THE POLAR BEARS ARE BROWN! WHAT DID YOU DO TO THE POLAR BEARS? Did you shit all over every polar bear?”—Louis CK