When I became vegetarian in 2002, I did it for health reasons. I decided to give it a try for 2 weeks, and found that I felt better than I ever had. I had more energy, I felt lighter, cleaner, more pure. After those 2 weeks, I tried meat again and I was sick for a week. I knew then that being vegetarian was the right thing for my body. Of course, I had always felt weird about eating dead animal carcasses, but it wasn’t until after I stopped eating them that I realized what a crazy concept that was: Humans, filling their bodies with dead bodies and calling it food. “But hey, to each their own,” I thought.
I continued consuming eggs and dairy because I figured “No one is getting killed, so it’s okay.” After several years, I heard rumors of factory farms being “not so great” (I really had no more knowledge than that), but I figured that getting cage-free organic eggs were okay and since I was a fromagier and mostly ate fancy artisinal cheeses from small farms, I wasn’t contributing to any of that “Not-so-great-farm-factory business.” Like most people, I had chosen to be unaware of certain realities because it might not be pleasant to look at. It’s just easier that way. “I don’t want to think about it,” was my philosophy. So I didn’t. I never really questioned what happened to all of the baby chicks produced on a chicken farm. As a fromagier, I knew if the milk was pasteurized or not, how long the cheese was aged, and what region of what country in what season each cheese was produced, but I never thought about how they got dairy cows (or goats or sheep) pregnant, or what happened to the baby cows after they were born. I chose to not question it because I didn’t want to know.
It wasn’t until the summer of 2011, when I saw part of an interview with Ellen DeGeneres that I was able to put a name to my choice to be unaware: Disconnect. Sometimes, when it is too difficult to bear the truth, too overwhelming to find a solution, it is much easier to disconnect from any emotions that truth may cause. It’s much less painful to forget what you know. Ellen’s words made me start to ask questions. They made me start to research and I was horrified by what I found. I began to realize there is no such thing as cruelty-free torture. There is no such thing as painless murder. I began telling Chris, almost daily, “I don’t know if I can continue to be a part of this.” We began looking at our lives and weighing what we would have to give up. What we weren’t thinking about was how much we would gain.
I decided one day that I wanted to see Earthlings, to see what Ellen had been talking about. I got as far as the trailer, and I sobbed off and on for the rest of the day. After discussing it with Chris, we decided to try veganism out for 2 weeks. Do you know what happened? My skin cleared up. My indigestion and bloating went away. I began to sleep better. After 2 weeks, we went to Greece on our honeymoon, and since we were newbies and had no clue how to be vegan in Greece, we decided to just be vegetarian. Every time I had a bite of feta or greek yogurt, however, my heart hurt. It did not feel right. And wouldn’t you know- my skin broke out again and my bloating came back. Starting with the plane trip back to the states, we were vegan for good.
We did eventually watch Earthlings, after we properly prepped ourselves emotionally. It was perhaps the most horrifying and emotional film I have ever seen and it changed us forever. It reaffirmed our decision to be vegan and made us even more proud of the choice we had made. It made our beliefs more concrete. One species is no more important than the other, thus one has no right to usurp power over another species. All living beings, regardless of their species, have an equal right to live on this planet in peace.
Every day, Chris and I feel more and more thankful that we made this decision. It may seem like you have to give up a lot in order to become vegan, but in actuality, you gain so much more than you eliminate. The variety of foods in my diet, my health, my cooking abilities, my connection to the Earth, my compassion for all living beings (human and non-human), my sense of peace with myself- all of these things have increased and/or improved. You don’t have to disconnect from the “truth” to find peace. True peace comes from doing what you can to make a new “truth.” True peace comes in knowing that your actions and decisions are in line with your morals and ethics. True peace comes from doing what you know in your heart to be right. Being vegan is not about giving up anything. Being vegan is about creating change, not just in your life, but in the world.
From Kristy’s website Keepin’ It Kind – a great place to gather some great vegan recipes and more!