In the summer of 2015, I made a conscious decision to stop eating meat. It was a slow process, and it was difficult, but for health reasons and vanity reasons, I slowly gave it all up. Not too long after I noticed the frequency of my stomaches and bloating decreased, and I liked that I went *ahem* regularly. That motivated me to continue and learn more.
I had watched a few documentaries before about the meat industry, and all the horrible animal farming practices, shown in films such as Food Inc, Cowspiracy, Earthlings, but still none of it got me to stop eating meat. Each time I would think about giving up meat, but never actually did. I would be grossed out, avoid meat for a few days, and then just go back to my old ways.
But something must have profoundly affected me, because during the next few years I found myself watching more documentaries, and looking up more information about animals, meat, and dairy. Eventually I started learning about the vegan lifestyle, and what vegans ate, and then met someone who actually became vegan. While I watched this person transition, I was inspired to give it a try myself because I saw how easy and do-able it was.
Contrary to popular beliefs, happy vegans do not feel deprived, because we realize a thousand more ways to eat vegetables, grains, nuts, herbs, spices, and so on and so forth. But this is not even what this post is about. This post is about the 10 things I’ve learned about myself since becoming a vegan.
- As a vegan, I quickly became aware of how quick people are to judge something they do not understand. Although no one has been blatantly rude to me, I catch all the sideway glances, the awkward “oh”s, and the jokes.
- Thankfully, because of number 1, I’ve also become a much stronger person, and I no longer care as much about what others think of me. It’s quite liberating.
- And because of that, I speak my mind much more openly. If I disagree with something, I disagree. If I like something, you will know.
- Becoming vegan has taught me to be more selfless, and that there is so much more to this world than satisfying my own cravings. I’ve been in countless social situations where I felt pressured to eat meat or dairy, and in the beginning I would just give in, because I felt bad for being difficult. I didn’t like being the odd one out, or causing inconvenience to others. Then I realized it’s never inconvenient to be selfless or compassionate.
- Realization number 4 has also completely changed the way I understood compassion. Compassion I once thought, was just a feeling that we got when we felt pity, but I realized compassion requires action. You need to show compassion, not just feel it.
- Veganism tests your patience, drive, willpower, tolerance, empathy, and humanity. It requires a lot of self control, and forgiving yourself a lot. It teaches you to fail and keep going.
- When you are able to empathize for animals, which are species that you’ve been taught are lesser than you, your compassion for all creatures on earth expand ten folds. That has made me a better daughter, friend, and stranger.
- Being vegan has taught me too see all people, regardless of ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, religion, or culture, as one. There is diversity, but there are no “others.” There is only one, human.
- I don’t believe in eating or exploiting animals so I stopped. I like who I am more because my actions match my beliefs, and as a result my self-esteem has grown.
- I recognize that I have the power to make a difference in the world and I am exercising it everyday. It has made me re-examine every part of my life, and helped me stop doing the things that I don’t like, and do more of the things that I do like. Plus, food has never tasted so good.