There are many reasons why people go vegan. Most vegans would simplify it into 3 reasons: animal rights, the environment, and personal health. Those three reasons are exactly why I went vegan, but not in that order.
The reason I went vegan wasn’t a pleasant reason. However, if you’re vegan you probably realize it’s usually not a pleasant experience when you make that push to go vegan. It’s only after watching those horrific videos, or reading about the staggering numbers of disease/death and the realization that we’ve been lied to that helps make for that final push. I first wanted to go vegan, not for the animals, but for my own selfish reasons. I wanted to live a long and healthy life. I couldn’t tell you the exact week it happened, but there was one particular horrible week that seems to have stayed with me even a year later. It was that week I found out that not only my grandma had cancer, but that my mother-in-law also had been diagnosed. Two different cancers and two very strong feelings of helplessness. I can almost laugh at it now, but basically my very first reaction was to google ‘how not to get cancer.’ That was the moment when my mentality over food started to change. I went into an internet wormhole and started finding studies about how people have defeated cancer. Of course there was no straight plan, but I came across an interesting study, called “The China Study Solution.” Now for anyone who hasn’t heard of the China Study, I recommend you look into it right now. While it may not be the most conclusive study on going vegan, it certainly is the most consecutive. I won’t go into all the details, but it “looked at mortality rates from cancer and other chronic diseases from 1973–75 in 65 counties in China; the data was correlated with 1983–84 dietary surveys and blood work from 100 people in each county. The research was conducted in those counties because they had genetically similar populations that tended, over generations, to live and eat in the same way in the same place. The study concluded that counties with a high consumption of animal-based foods in 1983–84 were more likely to have had higher death rates from “Western” diseases as of 1973–75, while the opposite was true for counties that ate more plant-based foods.1″
So I came across this study and basically went back to a vegetarian diet the next day. I had been vegetarian a little bit before, but it had been less than a year and I had started eating meat again. I didn’t have much ethical reasoning for going vegetarian. A bad burger made me feel sick ever since, and I still feel sick from the smell of beef. Even then, I told my now husband that I would never be vegan… as most of us have said. The reality is that most people who are vegan weren’t born vegan.
I had already started going down the rabbit hole at this point, so it took me just two weeks of researching and watching to go fully vegan. I would have never considered going vegan an option, since I’d never known any vegans. It was such a foreign concept to me, that I kept reaching out on the internet for books, studies, videos and recipe ideas. In a week, I had binge watched all the food documentaries on Netflix, including Cowspiracy, Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, and Food, Inc. It was almost as if a whole new world had been exposed to me. I needed to know more. I started reading the book, “How Not to Die” by Dr. Michael McGregor. From that I learned about the website, NutritionFacts.org. I went even farther down into the nutrition rabbit hole. It was then that I came across a couple of very influential vegan youtubers such as Mic. the Vegan, Unnatural Vegan, Bite Size Vegan and others. There are many many more vegan youtubers, but these were the ones who seemed to have the same rational thoughts I did and I found myself keep going back to their videos.
It was from them that I learned the truth about how our food ends up on our plate. It seems like a simple thing that they have sought us since the beginning of time. Chickens lay eggs and we gather the eggs to eat them. Simple enough. However, I learned about the massive amount of pressure that is put on ‘Layers’ and their female productive system. I also learned that male chicks were considered useless or ‘waste’ since they cannot lay eggs. The videos of people just throwing these live chicks down a chute to be immediately shredded or suffocated in a plastic bag was what made me realize being vegetarian wasn’t enough. It made me see the ethical side of veganism and I’m so grateful for everyone who has risked their lively hood in order to capture these acts of animal abuse.
It all kind of came together all at once. The environmental aspects, the ethics and just my own personal health. However, the only reason I’ve continued to stay vegan is because of the ethical reasons. I think about all those animals and how their lives are little more than a profit to those that abuse them. Our food chain isn’t as simple as they make it out to be.
1. “China-Cornell-Oxford Project”, Cornell University, accessed March 31, 2012.