Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘vegetarian then vegan’ 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

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

A couple of months ago after many years of eating a limited amount of meat diet, our 7 year old daughter made us realize that we were ready to become vegetarian. She, as well as our son, naturally didn’t have a desire to eat meat. They questioned where it came from and ate so very little of it when it was on their plates. So we decided we would be vegetarian but be ovo lacto as we thought it was impossible to be healthy and to raise children as vegans. Well…that is when I read the book Skinny Bitch, and knew I could never eat dairy or eggs again. My husband listened to the book on CD as well and felt the same way. We threw ourselves into this new-found world of veganism, and I immediately looked for a podcast that could help us out. That is when we found you. Your podcasts were just what we needed to help us along our path toward veganism. Not only do we learn interesting food facts, recipes and suggestions but also the truth to empower us in this lifestyle. It’s given us the power to stand behind our beliefs despite opposing views from family members. We feel like we have a wealth of information now because of you and your wonderful wisdom.

Becoming vegan has awakened a part of me that now loves to cook and loves all things to do with food. I used to cook but didn’t enjoy it as I was a worry wart in the kitchen about cross contamination from meat and meat products (rightfully so). Now I feel so free in my kitchen as I don’t fret about the bacteria coming from our plant based diet. There is no worry about blood on the counter or on a chopping board. I love it and feel so liberated!

Thank you for inspiring us and for guiding us. We are so excited that we also live near you and can attend a cooking class of yours in the future. Keep up the good work and know that you have made a difference in our lives! We are so thankful for you.

~ Megan & Eric, California

Read Full Post »

I had never really been a particularly healthy person growing up. I guess I ate mostly what everyone else, my family, friends and the rest of New Zealand society ate. Meat and two veg for dinner, plenty of fruit, cereals and grains, a lot of dairy. It was the simple things I remember eating – meals of baked beans on toast, mince & mash or sausages in bread with tomato sauce or cheese and vegemite sandwiches.

As I grew older I was inclined to pay more attention to eating habits and health in general, although seldom was any of my newfound knowledge put into practice. I did however know that there was nothing wrong with lean red meat and dairy in a well balanced diet. In fact, I was quite sure that my iron levels were lower than average and thanks to persistent advertising, more than aware of the vital role of probiotics from dairy in promoting healthy gut flora. I made my own yoghurt, drank plenty of milk, made sure I bought, cooked and ate enough red meat and fish (omega 3!) and sophisticatedly indulged in eating cheese of varying varieties while drinking red wine. Little did I know I was flooding my body with cholesterol and fats and probably a not-so-healthy dose of antibiotics and hormones too!

The plight of animals never really crossed my mind. Sure, they were killed for our consumption. Of course they were; that’s what they were raised for. And anyway, if I didn’t pick up that chicken breast at the supermarket, someone else would, or it would be wasted. The damage had already been done and all I was doing was making good use of the product of an industry, not letting it go to waste. In a land full of farmers you seldom encountered opposing views. In short, you ate what you were given and were thankful.

After graduating, travel led me to all sorts of places and introduced me to a range of cuisines. Seeking desperately to avoid the ‘fussy’ label I had earned as a child I ate all manner of delicacies served for my consumption, including sea snake, puffer fish, raw horse meat, raw chicken, liver and cartilage. Somehow, this made me and my companions feel good. As if we had conquered the dead and lifeless meat in front of us and as if this was cause to congratulate ourselves and boast. None of this bothered me at the time. It is only now, when I look back on myself at those moments that I am saddened.

I have been vegan for a year and a half, vegetarian before that for a good six months or so. It has changed my life completely and continues to do so. I can’t really say that there was a definitive moment in my life that led me to adopt a more compassionate lifestyle, or that I woke up one morning and it all fell into place like the pieces of some terribly sadistic puzzle. But rather, things happened gradually. I was aware of issues surrounding the consumption of animal products in almost a peripheral sense, as if they were always there but I had never chosen to focus on them. It really is amazing what our minds and hearts will ignore in order to maintain the status quo and avoid change.

Most of the peripheral information I was aware of came via my partner, who had a colleague at work recently ‘convert’ to vegetarianism. He would come home with tales of conversations he’d had with his colleague, Matt, while sharing a beer during their lunch break or after work. I didn’t know Matt particularly well at the time, but one thing he was known for was his penchant for logic. He is a very rational and reasonable guy, not to mention patient and tolerant of others’ opinions. And here he was, giving up meat!

Somehow it didn’t quite compute. The stereotypes I had of vegans and vegetarians in my head did not look like Matt. But, hey, we were living in the 2000s and was willing to listen to his theories on a cruelty-free life second-hand anyway. I found my ears pricking up whenever my partner mentioned he’d had a conversation with Matt recently and low and behold I began to realise that I was actually interested. Could I be one of those people who ‘goes vego’, who opts for pizza without cheese..? The more I thought about it and researched things, the more sympathy I had for vegetarianism and the more I came to realise that there was nothing inherently ‘weird’ or ‘anti-social’ about these people. They were simply normal people; normal people who wanted to try and make the world a slightly better place to be in by not eating animal flesh. In just the same way that I recycled my plastic bottles and newspapers, reused my own bags at the supermarket or shared a smile with a stranger in a busy street, they were out to see if their actions couldn’t make life better for all of us.

It seems like a lofty idea and you could be forgiven for thinking I’m naïve and idealistic. But, in truth, I have never seen anything wrong with either of these qualities and much prefer them to pessimism and cynicism. Sure, opting for a salad over a hamburger is not going to instantly transform the world into some heavenly utopia, but it does make a difference. Less demand for meat means less demand for farmed animals who live pitifully short lives of suffering, less slaughterhouse workers who leave for home every night with blood on their white overalls and aprons, less trees and forests cut down to provide pasture for grazing, less habitats lost, less grain fed to animals, less people fretting about the price of food, less starvation, less high-cholesterol, less heart disease, less obesity, less taxes for health care, less resources wasted. Less suffering and death.

I suppose you could say that once I had made these connections there was no going back. Something had changed in the way that I viewed the world and my place in it. I had become so much more aware of how my actions, simple, small and everyday things, could have much greater implications elsewhere and create a knock-on effect. Soon I had decided to stop eating dairy, eggs and then processed foods that contained animal products. I was reading labels, thinking about ingredients and then thinking about them again. I had expected this to happen. But one thing I hadn’t expected was the influence this way of thinking had on the rest of my life. I began to find myself questioning if I really needed to buy another magazine or book or T shirt and wondering where and how and for what purpose these things had been produced. Who was I helping with my money besides myself? Was I making a difference in the world? Was this a positive action or a negative one..?

‘Awakening’ implies that you had to have been asleep beforehand, but I know that I wasn’t; I was fully conscious and considered myself a good human being. However, I chose to blind myself to many of these issues because to acknowledge them made me slightly uncomfortable. Many issues in the world still do. But veganism is not a journey that ends once you’ve completely rid your life of animal products and cruelty, cleared out your cupboards and given your leather boots away to the Salvation Army. It is an ongoing journey and one that you will be able to travel with throughout your life, like a good companion. Veganism is the voice that asks you to reconsider, asks you to live your life in accordance with your beliefs and to aspire to be better.

Even now I am continuing to learn and change and improve the way I tread on the planet’s surface. Do I tiptoe? Do I thud? Do I run? Flit? What sort of footprint do I leave?

Our diets have a far greater effect on the planet than many of us realise. ‘What’s one banana?’ you might ask. But realise you are fundamentally similar to the majority of the population of the earth, with similar needs, wants, desires and the question soon becomes ‘what’s six billion bananas?’. Thinking big is the only way to assess our true impact on the earth and it can only be done when we are able to recognise that our choices matter as much as the next person’s. The earth is our dwelling place and we have a responsibility to be in it and of it and to care for it. It is not up to politicians, governments, or other people in other countries to organise the way we live and the way we treat the world. It is up to ourselves.

In the same way, if one person avoids eating animal products, it really does make a difference. We may feel as though it doesn’t when compared to the large numbers of meat eaters out there, but the world consists of people just like us and surely if we can change, others can too. It really is as simple as supply and demand. No one buys animal products, animal products go out of business. No one supports industries testing on animals, industries look for alternatives. Every circus needs an audience, for without one there is no circus. This is truly exciting and it’s what prompts me to respond with patience and sincerity every time I’m asked about living a cruelty free life.

The only reason I ever even considered ‘cutting out meat’ in the first place was because I knew someone who had adopted a vegetarian lifestyle. Not a family member, or a close friend, just an acquaintance. And one who was particularly rational, patient and open to others’ viewpoints. Just knowing Matt existed and was thinking about these things led me to do a little research of my own. I firmly believe that if he had been judgemental of others or the type prone to proselytising, my curiosity antennae would have curled in on themselves and I never would have found out how much I agreed with his views. It pays to remember this when airing your beliefs in the company of those who still eat animal products. Be open, be humble, be kind and let their antennae roam.

~ Sarah, London UK

Read Full Post »

I became a vegetarian over 10 years ago when a vegetarian acquaintance of mine expressed astonishment at my carnivorous habits after discussing my (many) dogs and cats with her. That same day I filled my gas tank right next to a cattle transport crammed full with loudly protesting and suffering animals. That stopped my meat eating dead in my tracks. Unfortunately I became what you refer to as a junk food vegetarian.

Now my partner and I are raising my 3 grandchildren. They all still occasionally eat/ate meat bought from the coop and we all ate cheese. I never made the connection between the veal industry and the cheese we were eating until listening to your podcast. In the past I have made several unsuccessful stabs at educating the children about where meat comes from but did not want to traumatize them even more. They have suffered through enough violence in their short lives that the PETA information just seemed too graphic.

With your podcast you have given me opportunity to share my truth peacefully with my children and my partner. You have given me words and an attitude that works for me and my family. I told my 8-year old yesterday that we would not be buying anymore cheese and when she asked me why I explained the connection between “baby cows”, milk and cheese. I was astounded when she (the ultimate cheese lover) said “that is sooo unfair that people do that to cows.” Then she asked if there was “fake cheese” (she is familiar with fake meat) that did not hurt animals and I told her that I had already ordered some just for her.

Your podcast has inspired me to eat a whole food and vegan diet and to teach my little family that our appetites do not have to hurt our animal friends. So far, they are listening and enjoying your delicious recipes.

Namaste and thank you again.
~ Lydia

Read Full Post »

Your podcast has changed my life. I am so grateful that you dedicate so much of your time to this work. It is so very important. I love to hear you read the letters written by listeners whose lives you have helped transform. I hear myself in so many of them, and that is part of the reason it seemed possible for me to transition to veganism.

I am in my late 30’s, and until recently, a ‘foodie’ and ‘compassionate omnivore’ (an oxymoron if there ever was one), but part of me could never reconcile the fact that my beloved pet chihuahuas were the same weight as the chickens I was consuming. Not only that, but I love chickens, their personalities and behavior. I think they are remarkable creatures. Why was I eating them?

These concepts were not new to me. I had been an ovo-lacto vegetarian for many years in my 20’s, but began eating meat again several years ago. 2 months ago I decided to once again stop eating animals. That decision felt so right! However, even though I knew of the horrors of factory-farmed dairy and eggs, I allowed myself to feel comforted by the fact that I was able to buy free-range eggs from the hens running around in my neighbor’s yard, and dairy products from the small Jersey cow herd on a local organic farm.

Then I accidently purchased a copy of the magazine VegNews, not knowing it was about all things vegan. Now, I have had vegan friends for many years, and have cooked many vegan meals for them, but for some reason, despite my passionate love of animals and abhorance of all suffering, I never made the conscious connection between my choices and the lives of the creatures whose animal products I was consuming. Veganism just seemed like a quirky dietary anomoly, and I enjoyed the culinary challenge of creating tasty meals my vegan friends would enjoy.

The VegNews issue I bought had your podcast listed in one of it’s articles. I found ‘Vegetarian Food For Thought’ on iTunes and listened to it–for 3 days straight! I could not stop, and still cannot. You helped me see that it is ridiculous not to transition to veganism! Veganism benefits not only the animals, but the spiritual and physical health of us human animals and of our planet.

I have long understood the health benefits of a vegan-diet–I am a medical clinician and have a special interest in nutrition and fitness–but alas, I was addicted to yogurt and cheese. No longer! I have been plant-fueled for 2 weeks now, and I feel fabulous! What is interesting is the response I get from my medical colleagues. These people, “experts” entrusted with educating patients and helping them make important health decisions, do not understand my decision. They mock it. I believe, as you and many of your wise listeners have pointed out, that when we discuss our decision to be vegan, we are holding up a mirror up to others and reflecting back to them the unhealthiness of their own food and lifestyle choices. Thanks to your wise words, I feel supported in my decision, and have the knowledge I need to continue with (what I believe is) the only sustainable way of eating and living available to us. I also have access to the ‘joyful vegan’ language that you utilize, which makes discussions about veganism much less antagonistic.

I have never in my life felt such inner-peace.

Thank you Colleen, for helping me to become a better person.

~ Christine in Colchester, VT

Read Full Post »

I was raised in a carnivorous family. When I was a senior in high school we moved to a farm that had cows, chickens, pigs, horses, and rabbits. I stopped eating chicken when the family slaughtered 100 “old” egg laying hens in one day. It was really disgusting.

Lacking knowledge and support, eventually I did return to eating chicken.

I read John Robbins, May All Be Fed in 1993. I became a vegetarian for several years then went vegan in 1995. I moved to a new city in 1996 and began attending a church. I did not know any other vegans in the church. I was ridiculed about not eating what the Lord had provided. Eventually, I did return to eating animals again.

In May of 2007, I began another attempt at losing weight. This one was a bible study at my church. It was based around the food pyramid and food group exchanges. It wasn’t working (the yo-yo effect 5 pounds on – 5 pounds off). So in July I discovered food combinations – eat protein with starch and vegetables with starch – but don’t mix proteins and vegetables. Also, don’t mix fruit with any foods. The author recommended eating only fish (no milk, cheese, eggs, chicken, beef, pork, ect.) So that is how I lost 30 pounds. In January, my church began 3 day water fast followed with 18 day Daniel fast (vegetables only). That is when my sister recommended I watch “Earthlings”. Normally I can not watch cruel things. But I prayed for strength to be able to bear up. I wanted to be able to influence my husband to become a vegan. He is so tender hearted and loves animals. I can not get him to kill things like spiders and roaches. If I find one in the house, he catches it and releases it outside. I was able to watch the movie twice, once alone and once with him. What a tragedy in epic proportions! I know God did not intend the world to be so cruel. As a Christian, we have the Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 10:6

” Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Every time an image from the movie comes into my head I cry out to God with that prayer. The great news is that my husband agreed to become a vegan! Although I was a little upset with him when he took both our leather coats and donated them to the clothes closet for the needy without consulting with me. Ouch! Oh well.

I’ve listened to the pod casts; they are so inspiring and empowering. Thank you! I now believe I have the knowledge to enable me to stick to my convictions.

I thought about my journey and the revelation that God has given me in regards to being a Christian Vegan. I did want to share this information to equip fellow Christians with biblical support for vegans.

Some Christians will refer to God’s covenant with Noah after the flood in order to justify eating animals. According to Genesis 9:3 God said,

“Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.”

We only have to recall that this was after the fall. The world was not in God’s perfect will. You have to go back to the beginning of Genesis to find God’s perfect will (when God had his way). God created a garden in Eden for Adam and Eve. In Genesis 1:29, God said,

“I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it – I give every green plant for food.”

In God’s perfect will, all mankind were to be vegan. Not only that, but in the next verse, Genesis 1:30 , God makes it clear that all animals were vegan.

“And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground-everything that has the breath of life in it-I give every green plant for food”.

Some people will argue that killing animals is godly because of the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament. But, Jesus made it clear in Hebrews 10: 7-8

Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, O God. First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made).

In Matthew 10, Jesus told us to pray that God’s kingdom will come. We know what God’s kingdom will be like. We know there will be no more death. In Revelation 21:4

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

In Romans 8:19-22, it is clear that creation is crying out for a future glory.

“The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope hat the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

I hope the above biblical references will empower fellow Christians to stand strong in their convictions to stop the suffering in this world and possibly influence other Christians to become Vegan!

~ Deb

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »