One day, around three years ago, I decided to go vegan.
I had absolutely no idea what it meant or what it entailed but I was up for the challenge. My first go around lasted about three months until I was defeated by a giant piece of cheese pizza and three scoops of delicious chocolate ice cream.
Over the next few years, I struggled with veganism and I never thought I would last more than a month or two.
On Feb. 20, this year, I celebrated my one-year anniversary of veganism and I’ve honestly never felt better, but that doesn’t mean I believe this lifestyle is for everyone.
Veganism has been on the rise over the last decade. Around 16 million people, or 5 percent of the U.S. population are vegetarians, according to One Green Planet, an online vegetarian publication. Of that estimate, around half practice a fully vegan lifestyle.
People see the vegan movement as an extremist and exclusive group, but I believe that veganism is the right lifestyle for those who find it on their own and pursue it out of their own will.
Taking a few steps back, let’s look at what veganism is exactly. To be vegan is to abstain from all animal products, including but not limited to beef, chicken, pork, fish, eggs and dairy products. Yes, even cheese. I know, the horror!
Ethical veganism also throws in abstinence from the use of any beauty products that were tested on animals or wearing any clothing items made from animal skin or fur.
Despite the wonderful impact that leading a more ethically friendly lifestyle has on the earth, far too many vegans shove the lifestyle down other people’s throats. This is one of the main reasons the community gets such a bad reputation.
Vegans tend to proclaim that if someone isn’t a vegan then they’re either a bad person, feel no mercy for the planet or the animals that inhabit it and don’t care about their wellbeing.
As a vegan myself, I’ve never understood why the community felt the need to push their beliefs on everyone.
Today there is an abundance of vegan Instagram models who live the island life and swear that eating 40 bananas a day is the only way to live your life. That’s a ridiculous claim that earned Freelee the Banana Girl 733,486 subscribers (and counting) on Youtube.
In reality, veganism really isn’t the best option for many people.
Regardless of whether or not each individual in the world would prosper on a cruelty-free diet, one thing I hope everyone can agree on is the earth could benefit from a “Meatless Monday” every now and again.
Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, a whopping 5 percent more than all transportation exhaust. If the population as a whole cut back on its meat intake, fewer cows could be mass-produced and it would be a step in the right direction of helping to heal our home.
At the end of the day, everyone should be aware of where their food is coming from. It’s important to recognize that oftentimes walls are put up in order to hide that the veal on someone’s plate was once a baby cow. This is a coping mechanism that has been instilled in us since we were born and in reality, it is no one’s fault.
With all of this in mind, following a diet or lifestyle that is right for your own body is hands down the most important thing to remember. Each digestive system is a unique snowflake and because of this, no one diet will mold to two people equally.
I am a firm believer in everyone doing what is best for his or her own body. If it’s veganism then that’s wonderful and if not, well then who am I to judge?
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons