Going vegan — what you give up, what you get
Happy new year!
Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? Are you going to exercise more? Are you going to lose weight, drink more water, practice more yoga or watch less TV? When we make our resolutions, those commitments of change to make us happier and healthier, we are either bringing something into our lives …or giving something up.
If we look up the definition of the word “resolution” (a noun) we find it means a firm decision to do or not to do something. The root word “resolute” (an adjective) is defined as admirably purposeful, determined and unwavering.
Why then do we break our resolutions almost as easily as we make them? I’m tempted to start calling them “re-solutions” instead, because we commit to these changes over and over again, but most of us just don’t want to give up what we don’t want to give up.
My decision to go vegan was not a New Year’s resolution. It was deep spiritual connection. It was realization that I could no longer ignore or deny. It was, to me, a step up on the ladder of consciousness. It was undeniably the best decision I have ever made, and I am now admirably purposeful, determined and unwavering in my resolve to live my life according to my values of compassion, mercy and love. I will not support the industries that keep us sick, asleep and blinded to the cruel truth of how we use animals for food, clothing, entertainment and experimentation. I am resolute.
Vegans do not eat animal flesh or animal secretions (no meat, dairy or eggs). We do not wear the skins or fur, or feathers, or any other parts of animals. We don’t participate in animal-based entertainment (zoos, marine parks, rodeos, circuses). We don’t use products that have been tested on animals. We do all this to the best of our abilities, with deep conviction. We know the immense suffering involved.
You might be saying to yourself, “Those vegans are really giving up a lot.” If that is how you see it, I understand; however, I don’t believe those things were ever mine to begin with … I’ve just given up that which doesn’t belong to me.
“Once our personal connection to what is wrong becomes clear, then we have to choose: We can go on as before, recognizing our dishonesty and living with it the best we can, or we can begin the effort to change the way we think and live.” – Wendell Berry
I see the concepts of “giving up” and “getting” differently. Here is what I see vegans actually giving up and getting:
Vegans are giving up the increased probabilities of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer. We’re giving up high cholesterol, saturated fats and artery-clogging plaque. (http://www.forksoverknives.com/)
We’re giving up environmental destruction, deforestation, climate change, acidic oceans, air pollution and water attenuation. (http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/)
We’re giving up the stealing of baby calves from their grieving mothers in order for humans to consume the milk meant for those calves. We’re giving up condemning mother pigs to a life of languishing and going crazy in a gestation crate so small she cannot turn around or even meet her babies. We’re giving up chickens being locked up in sunless wire cages so small they cannot escape their own excrement, their delicate feet forced to stand on wire mesh for their entire lives. We’re giving up the slaughter industry that allows animals to be sick and diseased and in pain — never coming to help them, because they are just profitable commodities by the billions. To these industries, these gentle animals are never considered living, breathing beings with hearts that beat and dreams of freedom. Vegans give up the most unspeakable cruelties that most won’t bear witness to — cruelties that most turn away from and ignore so they won’t have to give up what they don’t want to give up.
What vegans get is more abundant than you can imagine. We get natural, plant-based nourishment from the earth: Hundreds of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and beans. The combination of these life-giving foods is unlimited, exhilarating and delicious. Many of us get our health back. We free ourselves from allergies, chronic ailments, exhaustion and disease.
Vegans get a place in history for trying to save the planet. We get the satisfaction of withdrawing our support for animal agriculture — the leading cause of climate change.
We get comfort in knowing that we are not participating in an animal holocaust (noun: destruction or slaughter on a mass scale) that slaughters over 150 billion innocent animals every year. (http://www.adaptt.org/killcounter.html)
We finally get to align our values with the conduct of our everyday lives.
We get the right to call ourselves true animal lovers. Love animals or eat animals — you cannot do both.
We get to live in our authentic morality, not conforming to the masses.
Vegans get so much more than the perceived notion of “what we’re giving up.” We’re getting a glimpse of what the world could look like without overwhelming cruelty, slaughter, disease, disaster and inhumanity.
As we begin another year of the same stale, breakable resolutions, I invite you to consider what becoming vegan can do for you and what you can get from aligning your values with the conduct of your everyday life. It is one resolution you will never regret making. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.
Wishing you a year filled with compassion, conviction, purpose and determination.