I don’t have a particular day that I can look back on to say that’s the day I went vegan. I went vegetarian in high school, mostly because I didn’t want an animal to die so that I could eat, but also because that was the beginning of my struggle with disordered eating. I’m not implying that not eating animals is an eating disorder in the slightest! It’s just that it’s easier to restrict food when you don’t eat certain things. I was also very passionate about ending the use of animals for entertainment and was passionate about animal welfare. I became more curious and interested in veganism towards the end of my senior year. I wanted to make the most ethical decision that I could about my diet and live in a way that reflected my proclaimed love for animals. I was realizing that welfare is NOT enough and that liberation should be the pursuit and goal of the animal rights movement. But living at home where I was the only one that was even vegetarian was hard and I wasn’t the one paying for groceries. I ate plant-based 95% of the time that summer and did a lot of online research: looking up vegan recipes, facts about dairy and eggs, and making sure I could be healthy on a vegan diet. Of course I could be healthy!! Such a huge misconception that I had to unlearn.
And as I entered college, living on my own for the first time, in a city that was much more vegan friendly I took the plunge. I bought all my own groceries, finally kicked my greek yogurt habit and stopped buying products with honey. Unfortunately my freshman year of college was also when my eating disorder really manifested. I was living on my own and so I could control everything I ate and I could exercise whenever I wanted for as long as I wanted without anyone looking over my shoulder. That led to extreme weight loss, depression and anxiety. And resulted in me spending what would have been my last few weeks of my first year of college in an eating disorder treatment program, living at a hospital. I was told that I could not be vegan and that it was most likely part of my disorder. I remember distinctly being pulled aside by a therapist who told me vegans can’t be healthy (Um…she wasn’t even trained in nutrition). That was the moment I became inspired to recover AS a vegan just to spite them, to show them that they were wrong. Those 3 weeks I spent in the hospital will stay with me forever. I was vegetarian while in there, because I was forced to eat eggs and dairy which was horrifying to me and made recovery 100x harder.
When I was discharged I went back to veganism with a vengeance. I ate a lot more, saw a therapist to work on the underlying issues that actually triggered my eating disorder, and challenged myself everyday to get better. I recovered as a vegan, which helped because I wasn’t only eating for myself, but in a way that aligned with my values, a way that allowed me to practice the love I felt for other species and our planet. And I began to speak about veganism. I want to raise awareness and normalize the term “vegan” so it won’t be met with confusion or an eye roll but instead with real understanding. I want to show that vegans can, not only be healthy, but thrive. I also began to speak out about leather, fur, zoos, experimentation and other forms of exploitation.
And now I’m at the point where activism is becoming my current passion. The animals cannot make their voices heard by humans, so we have to make sure their stories get told. We have to change society radically to stop the massacre of billions of sentient beings everyday. That’s not an outrageous pursuit! That’s not a far-fetched thought. It’s not weird, or strange, or odd to be vegan. It’s just the end result of living my values. I want to live compassionately. I want to live in a way that’s sustainable for the planet. That’s what veganism is all about and that is why I’m vegan.
What are your vegan stories?