All posts filed under: Personal Essays

Veganism is not a diet. And why that’s critically important.

Veganism is not a diet. If that is news to you, please read on. If you not only know this, but are tired of having to explain it to others, please read on. Because most pre-vegans — and even a lot of new vegans — don’t know, yet, and it’s critically important that we try to remedy that as quickly as possible. My partner and I originally went vegan a few years ago for “health reasons.” We were part of the graduating class of Forks Over Knives vegan converts. I’d had very little exposure to veganism before that; a remarkable feat given I’d lived in Portland, Oregon for over 10 years at the time! I must have had some exposure to derogatory coverage of veganism, though, because we were careful to tell friends and family at the time to not worry, that “we’re not the crazy, militant vegans — we’re doing it for health reasons.” I think we felt at the time that we had to set our friends’ minds at ease that they didn’t have …

Connecting the Dots: How social justice advocacy led me to animal rights

I was about nine or ten years old when I started reading Zoobooks magazine. It was a gift subscription from my grandma, Laverne. Zoobooks is a children’s magazine that explores the anatomy, habitat, social behavior and ecological role of a specific animal or animal group, or sometimes features categories like “baby animals” or “endangered species.” It was established in 1980 and is still in publication today. I would eagerly await the magazine’s arrival each month and after reading the issue cover to cover, I would gently tear along the perforated lines to retrieve the centerfold poster and add it to the collection hanging on my bedroom wall. I was fascinated with this whole world of amazing creatures that shared the planet with me. I was especially drawn to elephants and big cats and one of my most prized possessions at the time was a small, stuffed white snow leopard I got on a trip to Marine World with my family. Beyond fascination, I felt genuine empathy and love toward animals — the way most children do.

Choosing Compassion Over Fear

Many people are afraid to go vegan — for various reasons. They may wonder what they’ll eat, where they’ll get their calcium or protein — or whether they can give up cheese forever. Most often they’re afraid of what it will mean socially. What will their friends think? How will their relationships be impacted? Will people think they’re acting “high and mighty”? Will they stop being invited to parties and events? I’ve talked with people who were especially concerned about offending or inconveniencing others with their veganism. Wondering, for example, what would happen if they were offered non-vegan food and had to decline. How would their rejection land with the one who offered? Will they be seen as freaks or outcasts, or clueless beneficiaries of class privilege? These fears stop many would-be vegans in their tracks. Even after they learn the truth about the animal exploitation industries and the horrible torture and eventual killing of tens of billions of animals in the United States alone each year, many people are afraid to make what they recognize as an important …