You don’t need to be a scientific researcher to see what people are dying from these days. There are a lot of diseases and conditions associated with eating animal products, and there are no two ways about it. Even though the meat and dairy industries are doing their best to justify their actions and feed the public with disinformation, there is no denying the fact that something needs to change.
A few years ago, I decided to go vegan after a few family members who were very close to me were diagnosed with different diseases. These were members from both sides of the family, and it got me thinking long and hard about the way I live my life, and especially what I put into my body.
I won’t be writing a lot about animal rights. That is a topic for a different post, and I certainly have a lot to say on that issue. However, rather than talk about the mistreatment of animals, I am here to write about the mistreatment of humans. Animal rights are a serious issue, but so are our rights. We all have the right to live, and live right. Live healthy.
What is Veganism?
“You are what you eat” is not just a phrase or figure of speech. It is literally the case. Everything that we eat – or otherwise introduce into our system – becomes a part of us. It enters our bloodstream, it gets into our cells, and it makes a difference. For thousands of years, in many different cultures and medical practices, it was said that we should let our food be our medicine. This was true then, and it is true now.
I had dabbled in vegetarianism when I was a younger man. I tried to be a vegetarian, but made a very poor attempt at it. The result? My B12 went way down, my hemoglobin followed suit, and everyone around me told me I looked sick. I gave it up. I went back to eating animals, and did so until a few years ago.
This time, I decided to take things slowly. I didn’t want a rerun of my previous, half-assed attempt. I decided I would gradually adjust myself to a plant-based, vegan diet. I began by cutting out red meat, then poultry, then fish, then dairy, and finally eggs and honey, and slowly replacing these with vegan foods. The process took over a year, and I met with my doctor and a dietician regularly. They both weren’t really for it, but it didn’t matter to me. I knew they were just parroting the mainstream way of thinking. Like I said, big businesses keep feeding people with disinformation. They will do whatever it takes to keep us in line, so we can continue buying their products and making them richer. It all comes down to money, I suppose.
How To Be Vegan
The greatest thing about being vegan these days is the amount of options that are available. I wasn’t afraid for a second that I would “have nothing to eat” as my mother says. I knew that going in, but it was another reason why I did it gradually. If you are going to go vegan, you need to do it right. This isn’t something that should be done on a whim, without proper planning. Your body is the greatest tool you will ever use, and you need to treat it right.
It has been said that veganism isn’t a diet, but a way of life. I tend to agree. It has opened up my eyes to the idea of living cruelty free – an idea that goes far beyond the dinner plate. It affects the way I view the world, and not just my own body. There are not too many things that the “little guy” can do to bring real change to the world we live in. Big Brother, in all his mustached glory, is watching over us.
There are people in positions of power pulling at all kinds of strings, which are actively affecting the way we live. But to me, going vegan – besides the obvious health benefits – was a way of sticking it to the man, if only just a little. A way of saying that I will not stand idly by. I will not go along with the program. I will not blindly accept what big business says is good for me. I will attempt to use my own mind, and try to control things which I have the ability to control. Things like what goes into my mouth. What kind of clothes I wear.
Somewhere down the line, we were conditioned to believe that it was okay to treat animals the way they are treated. We were told so many lies, we stopped fighting them and accepted them as inalienable truths. The fact of the matter is, nothing could be further from the truth. Peace starts at the dinner table. It starts with us opening up our eyes, and using some common sense and some critical thinking.
Lack of critical thinking has always been the bane of the masses. George Carlin (may he rest in peace) vis-à-vis modern life in the United States, said that it is called the “American Dream” because you have to be asleep to believe it.
So, for me, going vegan was more than a diet. It was a genuine change in lifestyle. A change of heart and mind. It is a way which enables every individual, no matter how figuratively big or small, to affect real change in the world. We, human beings, have the ability and the privilege to think and choose. It is what really separates us, in a very deep way, from the rest of the animal kingdom. Free will.
I am not a very militant vegan. I try not to look down at others for the choices they make. I don’t preach or rant, unless someone challenges my beliefs or genuinely expresses interest in hearing what I have to say. I don’t believe in shoving one’s opinion down other people’s throats. That, in a way, is precisely what the animal-abuse industries are doing, and those are the very industries that I wished to distance myself from.
Human beings are not born hateful. We are born a clean slate. Everything else is acquired. We acquire negative traits as well as positive ones. Like I said, in this post I wish to write about human beings’ rights. We have the right – the duty – to be happy. To live and let live. That is how we are born, and that is part of what the food industry takes away from us. We are taught, from a very young age, that consuming violence, death, and murder is normal. This happens so easily and effortlessly that most people don’t even question it. When did this become okay? How did this happen? Aren’t we human beings? Which brings me to the next point.
Another added bonus to vegan living – and this one is purely egocentric, mind you – is going to sleep with a relatively clear conscience. Knowing that no one had to be brutally killed in order for me to get my supper is a very empowering and positive thing. Obviously, nothing is perfect. When it comes to industry, especially in these modern times, there is almost always a victim. Even the plant-based products which I consume – for all I know they could be the result of someone being exploited. Someone’s land, someone’s labor. It is almost inescapable.
These days, you can almost never find a product – any kind of product – that is 100% cruelty free. It is the nature of big business, unfortunately. More often than not, somebody gets hurt. It is sad but true. But you have to start somewhere. You have to learn to crawl before you walk. Maybe, one day, I will be able to distance myself from any kind of exploitation. It is a goal, to be sure.
Being vegan means you take heat from people who are privy to this information. I have been told that it is very self-righteous, and borderline stupid, to act as if there are no more problems in the world, so let’s focus on animals. But the truth is that it is all very much connected. If you want to start ending that cycle of suffering, start with yourself and the way you treat the world around you. Start with breakfast.
Going vegan is about compassion. About understanding that we are not alone on this planet. Many times in life, we find it difficult to get out of our own heads. We each have our own troubles, our own difficulties, our crosses to bear. But when you decide to go vegan, it is a way of saying that you are thinking of others. That you are able to look past your own existence and embrace your fellow Earthlings as equals. It sounds like a radical thought, but it is actually the most natural thing in the world. Once you start incorporating that kind of thinking into your life, there is a lot that can happen.
Going vegan is about justice. About knowing that just because we dominate the Earth, it does not mean we need to dominate it with a cold heart, a bloody fist, and an iron boot. There are far better ways to show superiority. We have made it so animals are no longer free. And we have made it so that there are human beings who are no longer free, either.
And I am not talking about the past, or about parts of the world where there is seemingly nothing that can be done. I am talking about right here, right now, in modern America. It is enough to make you want to scream out loud, and yell “how did it come to this?!”
Vegan living, at its core, is living off the earth. Don’t believe the lies or the propaganda. Everything – every needed chemical, every amino acid, every vitamin, and every essential nutrient – can be obtained from the earth. I am not about to get into the discussion of whether humans are carnivores, herbivores, omnivores, or any other definition you want to slap on them. I am not talking about what we are predisposed to be, I am talking about what we are.
Even if we, as humans, are meant to consume animal products every single day, is this truly the way to go about it? With factory-grown, hormone-injected, forced-fed, mentally and physically abused animals? How is this good? How could it possibly be healthy? Even the greediest carnivore – unless they lack any common sense or decency – will agree that this is far from ideal. Surely, this is no way to consume meat and dairy, not by a long shot. This is not about the animals – it is about humans. About what we are putting into our bodies, daily. There is something very wrong here, and it has nothing to do with the animals. It has to do with big businesses making us sick and ultimately killing us, so they can make more money. It is that simple.
When done properly, vegan living is the healthiest and sanest choice. It is a way to ensure that our bodies are getting what they need, without someone else’s body being abused, tortured, and mutilated. I am not going to bring any studies or clinical testing into the mix, because we all know that scientific studies – even if they try to remain impartial – can be swayed in any direction. Someone is funding these studies, and more often than not it is someone with an agenda. All I am asking is that we open up our own eyes, just a tad, and use our own heads.
Sir Paul McCartney said: “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” I tend to agree. We are human beings. Many of us are egocentric and self-absorbed. It comes with the territory. It is part of who we are. However, vegan living is about drawing a very clear line in the sand, and saying: No. I will not have a hand in this. I may have a big ego, but I also have a heart.