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Archive for the ‘college vegetarianism’ Category

As a child, I adored animals. I loved going to petting zoos, small farms, and anywhere I could touch the baby animals and feed them and coo over them. I live in a metropolitan area, so I suppose it was only a matter of time before I encountered vegetarianism, and as a sensitive and thoughtful child, each of those instances has remained nearly burned into my mind.

My aunt and uncle, bird fanatics, raise and own geese and ducks as pets in downtown Richmond, VA. When I was little, my uncle half-jokingly made me promise not to eat either kind of bird. I took it very seriously and have not consumed them since. It was a natural decision; after all, I couldn’t imagine eating Peanut or his friends no matter how mean they were to me once I had seen them alive.

At a summer camp I met a “habit” vegetarian who had been instructed by her doctor to go off meat for a while after contracting food poisoning. On the metro, a young man reading a copy of the PETA’s vegetarian starter kit saw me looking over his shoulder and offered it to me; I still have it. Perhaps my most vivid memory is that of sitting at the kitchen counter and looking down at the dead animal on my plate and feeling horrible about it. At this exact point in time I realized that I did not want to eat animals, that I did not believe in it. I loved animals – how could I continue eating them? Yet I still thought that I couldn’t give up eating them. I liked meat too much, I told myself.

Fast-forward a few years. I’m sitting the back of my Animal Science summer class at the Career Center. One of the kittens paws the bag of a girl in the front. She picks it up; it’s her lunch bag. The teacher’s assistant asks what’s in it. She replies that there’s fake ham. It turns out she’s a vegetarian. A discussion follows over her reasons why and PETA’s “agenda” and so forth.

The conversation moved on, but I was still stuck on the fake ham. Inspired, I visited PETA’s website and one of its branch sites, PETA2. Horrified by the violence and cruelty suffered by animals in slaughterhouses, I vowed myself off meat. Though I still consumed marine animals, I erroneously considered myself a vegetarian, but this was still a huge step in a positive direction. Two years ago, I entered high school eschewing public school lunches, birds and mammals as food.

Fast-forward again to last May, when I discovered Colleen’s podcast. It was perfect timing: I had ten weeks of summer ahead of me to listen, and did I listen! I ran several marathons of episodes and developed the habit of listening to her podcast in the morning as I ate breakfast and during lunch when no one else was around, and soon her combination of hard facts, literary works, dietary support, compassion and joyfulness began to work its magic on me. In late July, attending a summer flute institute, I realized how easy it would be to cut out seafood from my diet in a dining hall system, so I did. The next week I began avoiding eggs and dairy, to my parents’ dismay – and (ineffective) “orders” to continue eating them. I understood their concerns were for my health and printed out the ADA’s “Fact vs. Fiction” page about vegetarianism and continue to take calcium supplements to assuage their fears. One of my former au pair’s friends who came over for lunch told me that I would “disappear” if I didn’t eat “anything.” (They are both Brazilians, and if there’s one thing Brazilians love, it’s their meat, followed in a close second by their salt – a bad combination with disastrous effects on their bones and arteries: upper-class Brazilians are acquiring the same SAD-related diseases as Americans.)

Now, I am nearly vegan, or, if one takes Donald Watson’s definition, I already am. The realization just blows my mind away. A few years ago, if you had told me I would be vegan, I wouldn’t have believed you because, really, it sounds so much more difficult, and radical, and strange than it really is. It is so simple and obvious that I can hardly believe it took me two whole years from the moment I decided not to eat land animals to only a few weeks ago when I finally decided that I could give up eggs and dairy just as I had given up meat. In reality, I am far more informed and healthy than I have ever been, except, perhaps, for when I was still a baby.

Oftentimes I am reminded rather painfully of the likely path of my little brother’s eating habits. He is almost three and an absolute sweetie. He loves animals, like all children, but hasn’t yet connected these same animals to the foods he eats. I know I am a very influential part of his life, even though I will be leaving for college when he enters kindergarten, but it breaks my heart to think of all the unknowing harm he will do, and the desensitization that he will undergo as part of a “normal” growing-up experience in this country, because I know there is very little I can do for him right now.

As I move forward and on to my own life as an independent adult, I know I will encounter far more hostility than I have so far, but for now I relish knowing half a dozen vegetarian friends and teachers within my sphere just by happenstance. I have decided to promote veganism within this sphere by improving my baking skills. So far, I have made brownies, blondies, and biscuits, and all have received positive appraisals.

My best encounter so far was a comment from an acquaintance that rides my bus. A few days after I handed out my remaining blondies on the bus ride home, she asked me if I was a vegetarian, and I said yes. She explained her supposition, saying, “There’s something about them,” some aura we have in common that she felt I had, and she admired us for it. Perhaps it is our inner peace, our joy, our connection with animals and all living things? This is what I myself feel, and it is worth a thousand times over any mere satisfaction gained by consuming those who should be our companions and friends on this planet. Truly! I now see the beauty of the world 😀

~Alison

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I’m a thirtysomething from Japan living in Vancouver, Canada. I started listening to “Food For Thought” about a month ago when I seriously began considering going vegan, and you got me hooked! I just can’t stop listening to your podcast. I also visited your website, checked out some of the pictures, and was fascinated by how beautiful you are… a radiant, self-confident true beauty!

I was once a vegetarian for several months when I was a college student in America in 1994. After graduation, though, I moved to Tokyo and became a meat eater again. To be honest, back then I was not really sure why I chose to be a vegetarian or what I was doing to be a vegetarian. Years passed. I got sick from stress and left Tokyo for Vancouver, one of the most health-conscious cities in the world, where
I have met lots of vegetarians & vegans.

So I’ve always been interested in being a vegetarian; however, I never took any action for a long time… until I visited Salt Spring Island, BC in May, where I spent a cellphone-free, ipod-less, no-TV, organic weekend on this peaceful island. I don’t know exactly why, but when I got back from the vacation, I completely stopped “craving” meat. It was bizarre. I started doing more yoga, eating less meat and more veggies, and then came across your Podcast. I started eliminating right away one non-vegan item from my diet every week. This is my 4th week and I’ve been doing pretty good! I am already feeling healthier, lighter and happier. My boyfriend, family, friends and coworkers are surprisingly understanding, asking me intellectual questions about veganism, cooking vegan dinners for me, etc. I feel very blessed and grateful.

Since I moved from Tokyo to Vancouver 6 years ago, my health has improved dramatically. But I always felt something was missing. Now that I am changing to a vegan lifestyle, I know what was missing. It is the sense of deeper happiness that I have now, knowing I am contributing to the world peace in my own way. I promise I’ll spread the information I have learned from you. Thank you, Colleen, for your hard work, passion and commitment.

~ Miwa, Vancouver, British Columbia

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I’d like to take a minute and sincerely thank you for all you do. I became vegetarian only about a month ago (hey, you’ve got to start somewhere, right?). Currently, I am well on my way to turning vegan.

It all started after reading “skinny bitch” for me. My roommate told me “this book sounds like you wrote it.” She said this because I am surrounded by heart disease, diabetes, and cancer in my family and have watched my parents go down the same road as their parents did without making any changes to improve their health. They make almost no effort even though they are well aware of what faces them. This is very frustrating to me. I am 21 years old and a senior in college and I am already making changes to prevent this, why can’t they?

But yes, that is the book that started it for me. It is very hard to ignore what they are saying. I was one of those people who ate mostly organic food, produce, dairy products, and meat and somehow made myself believe that I was doing the right thing because at least they treated their animals ethically, right? After hearing many of your podcasts, I realize now that I believed that because that is what I wanted to believe. This is one of the reasons I am turning completely vegan.

After reading that book, I’ll be honest, I struggled with the idea of becoming vegan for about 2 weeks. I wanted to, I knew it was the right thing, and it coincided with all of my values and beliefs, but I just kept thinking “I’m really never going to eat meat again?” Well after trying to wrap my head around that for a week or two I visited my brother in the D.C. area and that was the turning point. I promised myself that I would only eat organic meat from then on out (to “ease” my guilty conscience), and since that wasn’t possible when dining in a restaurant I ate vegetarian that whole weekend. After that, after seeing how easy it really was, I kept with it. It stuck.

It was about this time that I started to discover your podcast. I feel it has been you’re inspiring words and truth telling that has kept me motivated. I do feel I could have done it on your own but it is very comforting to know I can just flip on my i-pod and hear words of reassurance and that I am doing the right thing. It has also been your podcast that has educated me on many issues that are crucial to a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle, such as health and animal rights. I have always been an animal lover and the harsh reality of what they face is heart-wrenching. But as you say, I am glad to know it, and wouldn’t have it any other way. I do feel much closer to my pets and even just the animals that surround us in life. I can look at pictures of these beautiful beings and no longer feel guilty. With the help of this podcast I have learned so much about my health, my eating habits, and my morals as well as the health and well-being of the non-human animals that surround us. Thank you for all your work, it is truly awe-inspiring.

~ Sarah

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Although I’ve never been a huge meat eater, I decided to officially become a vegetarian this past summer.  My original decision was simply because I was disgusted by both the taste of meat and the thought of eating animals that were once living.  But as I began to search for tips on vegetarian cooking, I came across more and more information that confirmed I made the right choice — for my own health, for the environment and animals, and for the world as a whole. 

I discovered your website this spring, and have been listening to your podcasts for several months.  A year ago, I would never have considered being vegan, and I was definitely one of those “but I love cheese!” people.  But you’ve inspired me to reduce the amount of animal products in my diet.  As a student, I have had to compromise and opt for the vegetarian choices when I eat in the dining hall, but I am proud to say that I have stopped buying dairy products and I’ve even had a few successful attempts at vegan baking!

Listening to your podcast, however, I’ve realized that veganism is a profound belief, rather than just a special diet.  The vegan choices I’ve made thus far have been surprisingly easy, but I feel that if veganism is something I wholeheartedly believe in, I should be willing to make sacrifices.  So I’ve decided to go completely vegan this summer (when I’m home and away from college food).  I’m really excited about this decision, but it is a place I never would have arrived at without your podcasts.

Since I only know a couple vegetarians and zero vegans, listening to your podcasts feels like talking to a friend.  When I get sick of telling my friends where I get my protein from, or after watching them consume hamburgers at a barbeque, I come back to my room and listen to your friendly and wise words, and I am reminded that I am not the only “crazy vegan” in the world.  So thank you, a million times, for the work you do. 

Thank you for being such an inspiring person!

Carynne M.

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