For most of my life I naively lived on cheeseburgers, macaroni and cheese, and chicken nuggets; a family dinner always meant steak. Then one day a year and a half ago, it hit me over the head while I was making a hearty breakfast that it wasn't, in the grand scheme of earthly things, intended for me. What would happen to my body, to my soul, if I did not consume an animal or anything taken from an animal? So I educated myself. I relinquished the safety blanket of my ignorance.
This education about health led to a revelation about animals-as-products. It became so clear: I love animals. How can I eat them or make them suffer for something as selfish as taste or tradition?
I knew that the way to be proactive was to convert to a vegan diet (a vegan lifestyle—which means not using animal products of any kind—quickly followed). I found great resources from the Humane Society and from Farm Sanctuary, an animal protection program. I read wonderful books like Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson's The Pig Who Sang to the Moon, about the emotional lives of farm animals.
And in making this life change, I've found I have more energy, I sleep better, and my skin has cleared up. My taste buds awoke! I appreciate food in a whole new way. As for my soul, I quickly began feeling a lightness I'd never known before. Now I take responsibility for my actions. I am aware. And it's easy.
Because of veganism, I find myself embracing all living things, even the trees outside, in unexpected ways. I never feel guilty because of what I've eaten or because of the handbag I'm carrying.
When people ask, I always tell them, "I didn't stop eating animal products because I didn't like the taste. I loved the taste! But in this life, I want to inflict as little pain as possible." To everyone who argues that we can treat our fellow earthlings this way and so we should, I like to quote Harry Potter' s Dumbledore, who said: "It is our choices, Harry, that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities." I adore that.
—As told to Crystal G. Martin