Why vegan? It’s one of those FAQs that come with the territory of abstaining from animal abuse. The simple answer would be a question in return, why not? When you think about it the answer isn’t simple at all. There are many reasons why one makes the choice. Sometimes it’s not even a choice. Regardless, the deeper you dig into the vegan world the more you start to realize that it affects virtually everything in your life, and most importantly, other lives.

You may stumble upon new reasons that will convince you to stay vegan as time goes on. For me it was health to begin with. Then, I learned of factory farming and the endless animal suffering outside of the food industry. More recently, I have become aware of the good it does for our planet. The final facet of veganism is the gift it gives you of unlocking what everyone is born with: compassion for all living beings.

I like to refer to these stages of knowledge as the evolution of going vegan. The sequence in which these stages occur will undoubtedly vary for each individual. However, there is no doubt that each stage will occur sometime in your life as a vegan, as long as you’re open to receiving the information. Once learnt, these facts will make it most difficult to return to your pre-vegan days.

There are countless living examples that a vegan diet can be very healthy. It hasn’t been easy, but through research we have found that cutting out meat and animal by-products from one’s diet is related to a healthier heart and can even reverse diabetes and prevent cancer. Doesn’t that sound appealing?

It appealed to me which is why I became vegetarian. Although, I was more concerned with losing weight and that I did. I was vegetarian for about 6 months before going vegan because I just couldn’t give up cheese (it’s not as hard as you might think). It wasn’t until I took the next step in becoming vegan that I started to really feel better.

I was constantly sick at my stomach growing up. I felt sick so often my mom believed me when I was faking it to get out of school. Could I have possibly been allergic to milk or eggs? Maybe I just had an intolerance or sensitivity. Or maybe it’s because cow’s milk was never meant for us to drink and eggs were meant to be chickens. I will never know. All I know now is it’s been a really long time since I’ve been sick for any reason so I’m not complaining and neither are the cows or chickens.

I’ve known quite a few people in my lifetime that have a milk or egg allergy or they are lactose intolerant. These allergies are actually quite common, especially in children. They are caused by a reaction to the proteins found in dairy milk and eggs. What I have never heard is a condition that requires someone to consume either of these to sustain life. Coincidence? I think not.

What pushed me from being vegetarian to full-on vegan was learning about the unjust conditions, cruel treatment, and overall disrespect that animals are forced to endure just for our satisfaction. I could insert a ton of gory photos here, but I will spare you that for now and let your imagination be of use. Being vegan could never be a fad for someone who knows the horrible truth concealed behind walls of deceit.

I say deceit because we have been fed lies since childhood about how cows are happy to be milked all day, every day, or that “free range” somehow equates to chickens willfully giving up their young, or that “humanely-raised” means their owners actually care about their well-being.

What actually happens is that dairy cows are repeatedly raped throughout their life in order for them to make the milk you drink. They are then forced to produce more milk than they would naturally to meet demand. Their babies, for whom the milk is meant for, are dragged away from them for their own personal path to demise. Yes, this even happens on the small family run farms you are so proud to support.

As for the “humanely-raised” animals, could someone please explain to me what humane murder is? Do they have a deep conversation with the animal about what death means? Do they lead them on a peaceful walk to a special room where they are made comfortable? Do they then stroke their coat while telling them, “Everything will be okay, this is for the best?” Do they finish the humane killing by slowly injecting them with an overdose of medication so they feel no pain and are able to remain calm as their life gently comes to an end?

The answer to all of those questions would be a big fat NO. Therefore, they have no right to refer to their actions as humane as long as these farmers continue to treat these animals as if their lives do not matter and don’t deserve our respect. It is a mere excuse to exercise their belief that humans are at the top of the food chain and have the capability to do what they wish to other living beings. Truthfully, I view it as nothing more than cowardice. All of these labels put on meat packages and egg cartons to make us feel better about buying them have one thing in common- they all end in death. Period.

I haven’t even touched on the gruesome details forced upon animals for the purpose of providing us with clothing. It’s all unnecessary when there are plenty of other options to cover our bodies. How about the subject of testing on animals? If I could make an observation here it would be if anything needs to be tested for any reason it’s probably not good for us. What about animals doomed to live out their lives in confinement under someone’s control? I’m talking about zoos, circuses, theme parks, or any performances involving animals being held against their will and not being properly cared for. Animals that are only viewed as a pawn for monetary gain are unfortunately dubbed as “entertainment” for us. This is where being vegan goes beyond a diet. As long as we continue to pay for this cruelty it will continue to exist. I could go on and on about this subject, but there is one last point I want to make.

As of late there is a growing population that have declared their veganism based on being environmentally conscious. With all the facts out there comparing a vegan diet to a meat-filled one it’s hard to argue in favor of the latter. Can you call yourself green when you still eat meat? Yes, but it’s difficult to deny that a vegan diet will make a considerable amount of change. Going vegan is the most effective change each person can have on the environment.

The amount of land and resources we use to raise meat is much greater than the amount it would take to grow crops. If we were to replace all the animal farms with crops of vegetables and grains world hunger would not be an issue. The growing concern about global warming would be reduced by more than half. The amount of water and air pollution caused by raising cattle for meat and dairy is astonishing. Are you aware of how much water we would save by replacing 1 pound of meat with 1 pound of soy? The numbers will deem your personal efforts to conserve water at home largely insignificant. What’s even more shocking is the percentage of pure untouched natural land we have destroyed to make room for more cattle pastures.

All of this is 100% preventable if you were to make the simple life-changing choice to go vegan. In doing so you could repair your health, save millions of lives, and preserve our land long enough for the next few generations to enjoy it. If you could do all of this by choosing to focus on other forms of nutrition, clothing, and entertainment, why wouldn’t you?

The final stage of going vegan that I mentioned is probably the hardest to reach. Some take years, even decades to make this connection. Others are able to catch on right away. It is the common sense notion that the “all” in compassion for all living things includes human beings. It is easy to dismiss the idea that people are not perfect. It is easy to live your life full of judgment, hate, and disrespect. Nothing about compassion for others is easy except we are all born with the capacity to harness it.

This is the part I’m still working on, but have already improved upon. Opening up my mind and heart for the suffering of animals over the past few years has made me realize that human suffering is no different. No, it is not easy to forgive those that are capable of understanding their actions are wrong. However, I have found a little compassion for our neighbors goes a long way.

Imagine living a day, week, or year without any form of anger. What kind of world would we be living in if that were multiplied by millions of people? I picture a much kinder world. It is possible through compassion. Veganism can teach you this if you’re willing to acknowledge it.

There you have it, the evolution of going vegan. In my own vegan journey that I have shared with you I went from wanting to live a longer, healthier life to believing we can obtain world peace in the future. I am not a nutritionist. I am not a doctor. I am not a farmer. I am not a scientist. I am only one person that made one choice. That choice just happens to hold the power to do more good than we are able to know at this time. That is why I’m vegan.