Being vegan is a lifestyle, and I absolutely love it! I’ve been vegan for a decade now, and was a vegetarian for five years before that. The difference between vegetarians and vegans is that vegetarians don’t eat any animal flesh (beef, chicken, fish, etc.), but vegans go further, and also don’t consume or use anything that comes from an animal (egg, dairy, leather, fur, etc.).
I personally find being a vegan extremely rewarding. It gives me an opportunity at least three times a day to do something to make the world a better place, and I enjoy that feeling. To do something good, you often have to go out of your way, but as a vegan you just have to make better choices. These choices are not only better for animals, but 99% of the time, they are also better for your health and the environment.
People often ask me if it is difficult to go vegan. The best way I can describe the experience is to compare it to going from an unhealthy to a healthy diet. If a person who normally eats food like fried chicken and pizza decides they want to eat healthier, they simply have to learn about better options and chose those products. They sometimes have to go to a salad bar instead of KFC. As a vegan, you sometimes have to go out of your way to find a restaurant with good options, but normally there are options at “normal” restaurants. It is rare that I can’t find something good to eat.
There are lots of different opinions on what it means to be truly vegan. In my opinion, everyone should just do the best they can.
Food Choices – I don’t eat any meat, seafood, dairy products, or honey. Someone once told me they, “didn’t eat anything with a face,” and I had another person tell me they, “didn’t eat anything that had a mom.” However you want to look at it, vegans don’t eat other animals.
Fashion – I don’t buy anything with fur, leather, wool, down, or silk. It might seem at first that this will be really tough, but you probably already own a lot of things made out of synthetic materials. There are options available from low- to high-end.
Cosmetics and Household Items – I try to buy products from companies who do not test on animals or have animal products in them. There are compassionate consumer guides such as Caring Consumer and Leaping Bunny where you can check out companies you buy from to see if they sell compassionate products.
Entertainment – I don’t attend events that use animals as entertainment such as the zoo, circus, rodeo, or animal rides (horses, donkeys, elephants, etc.). There are lots of horse rescues where they ride the horses. I don’t know enough about horses to have an opinion on that, but I choose to never ride horses.
Adopt – Last but not least, I would never buy a pet from a breeder or puppy store. I have rescue animals in my life that were abandoned by someone else and needed a home, but I would never pay someone who makes a living off selling other beings. To me, breeding is nothing more than modern day slavery.
I know it is a lot to take in, but I absolutely love being vegan and living a lifestyle built around compassion. The vegan community is passionate, creative, and determined, and I love being a part of the movement.