April 4th, 2017
For as long as I can remember, I have felt an overwhelming sense of love and compassion for animals. Growing up in a household where we consumed meat, fish, eggs, and dairy on a regular basis, I oftentimes would have to turn my emotions off while I ate, for the feeling of guilt burned in my heart. As a young child I would always choose to eat fruit and vegetables over the main dish on my plate, which was almost always meat or fish. Meat never made my palate yearn for its taste. Even though I did at one time avoid carbs at all costs and go a bit heavier on meat because I truly thought that meat would make me skinnier, as many others in this world do, I did not enjoy chewing on a dead animal.
In mid-March of 2016, I stumbled upon some disturbing videos and pictures that woefully exposed the meat industry, and my 14-year-old heart sank. I never truly knew just how tremendously appalling and monstrous the cruelty of the meat industry was. As I watched innocent lives being taken by my fellow humankind, I knew I could no longer contribute to not only the suffering of animals but also the vicious acts of selfishness being performed by the meat industry. I knew I had to change.
At the age of 14, I had never really heard much about veganism; moreover, I honestly thought they were crunchy hippies that ate tofu and lettuce. Little did I know that they actually ate an abundance of vibrant, healthy, delicious plant-based foods and had so much compassion in their hearts for animals.
After realizing that I needed to become vegan, I was beyond skeptical. I was worried about what I could eat, of course how I would get my protein, and what everybody in my life would think. I then started to rethink my new choice of converting to veganism. So, I decided to meet my thoughts in the middle: I would become vegetarian. That sounded a bit better than being vegan.
At this time, I was still blinded about what really went on in the egg and dairy industry and I didn’t see the real issue with consuming eggs and dairy. So for about a month or so, I kept eating dairy and eggs– even though I wasn’t a fan of eggs, milk, or cheese, I still consumed them as ingredients in processed foods.
A few weeks prior to my findings of the senseless meat-industry videos, I had started to develop severe digestive issues and I began losing weight because of them. Ironically I didn’t actually go see a doctor until after I had pulled the trigger to become a vegetarian. When I was at the doctor, he asked if I had any dietary restrictions and I said that I was vegetarian — and gluten-free because I had been gluten-free since late 2015, as well.
The doctor looked up from his clipboard and stared into my eyes and stated, “Why would you do that?” as if I were a madwoman. I replied, “For the compassion of animals.” He shook his head and said, “Animals are here for us to eat; that’s just the circle of life and just the way things are.” I could not believe the words flowing from his mouth. Just the way things are? I started to see how truly ignorant and robotic most of humankind was. The doctor then began to tell me that my digestive issues were probably caused by my meatless diet, but I knew that had to be false, mostly because I had developed them before I changed. I find it implausible that he would blame my diet on my digestive issues, when doctors have virtually no nutritional background. His words were not going to stop me.
As time went by, veganism was still prevalent in my mind. I knew I needed to look into this diet a bit deeper. As I began to research the egg and dairy industries, I was dumbfounded by what I saw. I never knew that female cows were forcibly impregnated and then stripped away from their babies after giving birth so that they will lactate and be milked for the milk to go to humans, while their baby cows will continue on without their mother’s milk and instead will be fed fake milk, just so that humans could have cow breast milk. I never knew that eggs were a chicken’s period. I never knew that male calves were sold into the meat industry and that female calves were sold into the dairy industry. I never knew that male chicks were killed after hatching, or, if they were able to live at all, are sold into the meat industry, and I didn’t know that female chicks were then sold into the egg industry or into the meat industry. I felt so lied to. I was overflowing with guilt and sorrow. Veganism was now a must. I could no longer stand innocently by; I now had to stand up for these poor, mistreated creatures.
I became vegan in May 2016 at the age of 14, solely for compassion for our furry and aquatic friends. Some thought that I was being way too extreme, but I knew my decision was the only way to live. Every day, each and every one of us gets the choice to contribute to cruelty and suffering, or we can choose to eat a plant-based diet that is free from killing and harming innocent living beings.
A few months later, I was still going strong with my vegan diet. I was in the shape of my life, my intellectual clarity was better than ever, and my heart was flowing with joy. Plant-based foods are truly magic!
Now that I was vegan, I began to really become infatuated with how veganism affected my health and the earth, and I honestly wondered why, if I felt so great eating this way, what was it about meat that made me feel so much worse than how I was feeling now? Why did I feel so great despite my still-present digestive issues? I once again began to research. My findings were harrowing and more than shocking. I never knew just how poisonous meat, fish, dairy, and eggs were to the human body.
I strongly advise everyone to watch the documentaries What The Health, Cowspiracy, and Forks Over Knives. These documentaries truly explain just how much the meat, dairy, and egg industries are slowly killing us.
Now in present-day 2017, at the age of 15, I will truthfully share that I do not miss meat, fish, dairy, or eggs. I do not miss the taste nor do I miss the selfish brutality that I once contributed to. I will be honest: veganism is truly a journey. I’m not going to tell you that veganism is easy at first. Starting anything new is tough. I understand that changing how you eat after your whole life of eating a certain way can be scary and frustrating; however, I do promise that it will get easier with time. As with all things, it takes time, my friends.
Today I can say that my digestive issues are doing a bit better than they were back in early 2016, and I 100 percent attribute this to the healing powers of plant-based nutrition. I am overjoyed that I found this lifestyle. Note that I said “lifestyle,” and not “diet,” for veganism is truly so much more than a diet. Veganism is not just the foods that you eat, it is that you are willingly choosing to say no to cruelty and saying yes to compassion. To call veganism a diet is an understatement, and is almost an insult in a way. Veganism is not a diet that you can have “cheat days” on; furthermore, one must conscientiously and faithfully commit to being vegan. You are able to save the lives of so many. You are able to give a voice to the voiceless merely by eating plant-based foods. You can simply do your own Google research, and you will find how plant-based foods can help treat and reverse many diseases. This is why I share with you what I eat and the choices I make. I care for the animals and for your health.
The choice is yours. You either care, or you don’t. You either choose compassion, or you don’t. You either will stay in the dark to the meat, dairy, and egg industries and keep slowly killing yourselves, or you will wake up every morning and live your life without cruelty and eat vibrant foods to have a vibrant life. The choice is yours, my friends, so get choosing.