Tuesday, March 8, 2011

From Fat Ass to Bad Ass: How Veganism Saved My Life

I used to not care about anything. I used to smoke cigarettes, eat animals, buy whatever I want, and do whatever I want. I only cared about myself, and I didn’t care who I hurt or who was affected by anything that I did. I would often ask myself why. Why don’t I seem to care about anything? The thought would normally float around my mind for a couple of minutes then pass as I went back to playing my video games or eating my double cheeseburger. I was a terrible person to be in a relationship with, always putting my needs and wants before my significant other’s. I was basically a waste of human space. Little did I know at the time, but all this would soon start to change.

One day, I randomly put out a cigarette, declaring it would be my last one. I know I had done this many times throughout the last 14 years, but something that I didn’t quite understand was different this time. As soon as I went 2 days without a cigarette, I knew I could do it. This was possibly the first time I achieved any type of goal simply through being positive and believing in myself. 2 days turned into 2 months, and I knew I was never turning back. I had will power, and realized that I could use it to do anything. What was I supposed to do with all this power? I didn’t really know what the next step was.

I remember one evening after work; I was sitting at my computer watching random YouT ube videos. I stumbled across a video of some random youtuber going on about how the vegetarian lifestyle is so much better. It made me think. It made me think back to a time when I was in high school, nearly 10 years ago, when I started to watch one of those slaughterhouse videos. I watched it for probably a minute and then turned it off. I thought it was disgusting, but I didn’t really care, I just didn’t want to see it. In fact, allow me to elaborate further on exactly what my eating habits were like for most of my life. Fast Food pretty much sums it up. The more meat the better, the more cheese the better. I hardly ever ate vegetables or fruit at all, I loved eating meat. I wanted to try all different kinds of meat from all different kinds of animals, domestic to exotic, and I did. You get the picture.

I found a ten minute video that briefly went over how animals are treated in the meat, egg, and dairy industry. With my newfound will power I knew I could finish the video. For some reason I just felt like if I was going to eat it, I should know exactly what I’ve been putting my money and support into all of these years. I watched the video. I watched the animals being beaten, tortured, and eventually killed in brutal and inhumane ways. I realized that immediately that this was wrong and that I could not support this any longer. I announced immediately I would go vegetarian. This had nothing to do with willpower because I no longer wanted to eat meat; therefore I needed no willpower to fight against a want. At the time I had no idea that everything in my life would soon change all because I discovered true compassion.
At first I was vegetarian. I noticed that I was avoiding dairy and eggs; whenever I would eat them I would feel extremely guilty, thinking about where it comes from as I consumed it. After only 2 weeks of vegetarianism I declared that I was vegan. It started out about animal welfare, but I soon discovered even more reasons to be vegan. Aside from saving animal lives, you get to help save the planet every day! It wasn’t long before I started feeling better and my tastes started to change. I was eating raw green peppers and onions in my salads and loving it, 2 vegetables that had me gagging before. My energy level had dramatically increased, making me actually feel like going outside and living. Through this new compassionate lifestyle I also discovered the power behind positive thought. I realized that with positivity and education you can change the world.

As I continued down my path of veganism, it wasn’t long after that others started to follow. I never once tried to force veganism on my friends and family, I just simply answered any questions that they had about the issue while continuing to better my own life. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was setting an example. I was showing everyone I know that a life led by compassion leads to a life of personal success and happiness. By now I have inspired a hand full of people to go veg in some way or another just by doing things for myself. Sometimes people who are still omnivores will call me up just to tell me that they chose not to eat meat for a meal that day. It makes me happy to know that by changing my own life I have helped to change others. We as individuals can make a difference even if it’s just in those around us.
It’s been a year now since I went vegan, and a lot of things have changed in my life. I went from being someone who cares only about himself, to someone who cares about others. I lost over 100 pounds, and took up biking as a mode of transportation. I went back to school to further my education, and became active with the on campus environmental and feminist groups. I am the founder of The Vegans and Vegetarians of the Tri-Cities, and the founder of an on campus animal rights group at my university. Every day it seems like my life just gets better and better, and I become more and more aware. I will never stop fighting for what is right no matter what the cost. A friend and colleague of mine once told me that you can’t fight one type of oppression while ignoring another. This will always stick with me in the constant battle we fight for civil justice in the human and the animal world. It’s all connected, animals and humans alike. I urge you all to consider and think about the products you purchase and support, food and non-food items. Do you agree with it? Do you want it changed? Do you wish it was difference? It could be, and it all starts with you. We shape the world we live in, and when you find something that speaks to you regardless if its animal rights or something related to human rights, you’ll see the connection it has to everything else. Understanding that it’s all equally important, your life to will be changed for the better, just like veganism changed mine. I see now how beautiful life is and can be.

For those of you out there fighting for what you believe in do not be discouraged, I know it gets tough sometimes. I know how it’s hard when it seems like everyone else just thinks you are crazy. You might be asking, how do you stop those who will stop at nothing? The answer is simple, you never stop.

1 comment:

  1. Ha ha. This was written almost 6 years ago but I stumbled upon this as it's my first veganiversary tomorrow :-) Greta choice you made years ago !! Yes, going vegan has changed my life in the most amazing ways.