I get a lot of grass jokes. Don’t get me wrong—I think they’re funny, and I am almost always the first to poke fun at myself. But, folks, I eat more than leaves. Vegan food can actually be yummy…yes, how shocking.
Another thing I get a lot of is this: when did you become vegan, and why? So, let me explain. I have been vegan for approximately 18 months, and I am vegan because I seek compassion.
The summer before senior year, and eating almost an entirely plant-based diet, I decided to say what the hell, why not, and go full-on vegan. One week became two, then three, and I kept with it. I read a lot online, learning about people’s vegan stories, how veganism affects the environment, its health benefits, and all of the ethics and morals that go along with it. Ultimately, what it boils down to is this: compassion.
To me, veganism brings an element of compassion to the animals whose lives are at stake, the environment, and to myself. Veganism, in my eyes, is all about intent and the want to be better. The industry surrounding livestock production is vile and not something I am willing to support by purchasing its products. Not only this, but animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation and a huge factor in climate change. Finally, it lets me take the compassion I am offering to these animals and the environment and reflect it inward.
Every time I make a choice to be vegan, picking up the vegan option at the dining hall, staying away from animal products in favor of plant-based ones, it serves as a reminder to internalize the compassion I am offering in making these choices. I am someone that has insecurities, and I can tear myself apart and be my own worst enemy. But being vegan encourages me to be gentle with myself as well. It may not make a whole lot of sense, but to me it is another opportunity for me to show myself some compassion. If I can stand up for a cause, then I can stand up for myself too.
So, keep the jokes coming, tease me about eating meat and cheese, and I’ll laugh right along with you. Everyone’s choices are unique, and mine is something I couldn’t be more proud of.