Veganism: The Reasons Why
Last weekend I was an exhibitor at the Boston Veg Fest. There were so many people there exploring and taking in the different fare offered by vendors, such as myself.
As I was people watching, I had a thought about all of the other hundreds of people in the room. They all are here at the same time for different reasons. Yes, the connecting thread is veganism, but I can promise you that not everyone at that event was vegan.
I wondered what their story was, what were the twists and turns that got them here. Did they read something about weight loss and veganism, or did they watch a video about animal slaughter? Or was it their girlfriend who drag them? (Believe me I saw a few of those.)
No matter how they got there, they were there trying my bars. Some bought, others sampled and walked away. But the people I was able to interact with were so interesting in their own ways.
It got me thinking about my own journey to veganism. It has been four and a half years for me since I decided to change my life. Four and a half years of veggies and plant-based goodness.
Upon reflection, the reasoning behind my veganism made a difference as to how strict I was about my lifestyle change. I first started the lifestyle shift because of my own health. I must be honest with you, I did waver here and there. I had a piece of cheese here and a bite of an omelet there. But once I learned about the atrocities of the animal industry my resolve grew stronger.
I was vegan for the animals. Once I decided this, I was never tempted by another piece of cheese. Dairy grossed me out, for I educated myself on the dairy industry and what actually went into the production of the cheese on the plate.
This is not just my experience, it is the experience of many others around me. There was a study done by Hoffman et al., 2013, that looked at the differences between health and ethical vegetarians and vegans (1). The study found that the motivation behind being vegetarian or vegan was important to their conviction, and had greater dietary restriction. Guess who didn’t stray? The ethical vegetarians and vegans.
Why is it that when we do something just for ourselves, we don’t take it that seriously? We easily make up excuses about why it is OK to wander off our own personal reservation. But when another being is in the balance, we don’t quiver, we don’t second guess.
The human condition is very interesting, especially when willpower is involved.
Studies have shown that when people do things for others, they are more likely to stick with it. People were more likely to quit smoking when they did it for others (extrinsic motivation), compared to doing it for themselves.
When I think of baby cows being pulled away from their mothers so humans can have her milk, I get this fierce need to never touch another piece of cheese. But when I thought about the negative health effects it had on my body I felt differently about that one piece of cheese. Truth be told, generally speaking, one piece of cheese here or there will not do lasting damage to you. But supporting an industry that exploits animals, that piece of cheese, to me, symbolizes so much damage and hurt that goes unchecked and unacknowledged.
So no matter how you have arrived here to read this article, I know that your journey and your beliefs are different from me own, as they should be. The end result is what is important, that is to strive for progress and not perfection. Progress to a more compassionate world, progress to a more educated population, progress to sharing love, not hate.
1) Hoffman, S.R., Stallings, S.F., Bessigner, R.C., & Brooks, G.T. (2013). Differences between health and ethnical vegetarians. Strength of conviction, nutrition knowledge, dietary restriction, and duration of adherence. Appetite 65, 139-144