Vegetarianism! (My personal journey to+thru it 2 veganism)
Hi! This post does not discuss recipes, and it has nothing to do with advising anyone who is interested in going vegan. It is simply a written exploration of how I came to veganism -- so that going forward I can comfortability discuss veganism in a way that readers will have some context to my experience. If you find yourself interested in the exact influences that helped me decide to go vegan, keep your eyes peeled, I will publish a post entirely about that shortly!
And before getting into this I feel the need to differentiate a few things in order to be clear for readers who aren't sure about what is what.
Vegetarian -- people who do not eat meat (they can eat dairy)
Pescatarian -- people who eat fish and no other types of meat (they can eat dairy)
Vegan -- people who do not eat any animal products whatsoever (do not eat dairy)
AND TO BEGIN!
There is no beating around the bush here -- I became a vegetarian about a year ago (December 2019) and my reasons didn't have anything to do with conscious living. I had just met my ever so lovely/perfect/spicy/angel/babie Australian partner, Antony, and he was my biggest influence. Our relationship started off beautifully but kind of unusual-- we met and almost immediately moved into a van together to travel the States. With Antony as a vegetarian, meal time quickly became a place of constant discussion and for me, confusion. Living out of a van meant we had to plan and prepare accordingly for meals because we didn't ever know where we were going to end up. And we (mostly Antony) learned quickly how important it is to avoid a hangry Caroline. This period of time provided a lot of room for reflection, so in the spirit of traveling, love, and mostly convenience, I decided to join my partner in vegetarianism.
The more I talked with Antony about vegetarianism the more clear it became that I had made the right decision. I continued on in this new phase of life and it wasn't too difficult of a transition for me. Vegetarianism was actually quite simple for me. Before committing, I only ate meat a couple times a week if any at all and I was already keenly aware of my distaste (no pun intended, hehe) towards the idea of killing animals for food (or any reason4 that matter), so there wasn't too much inner struggle. I also think it felt easy because I was doing it with someone who was already extremely experienced -- Antony was 3 years in when I met him.
I thoroughly enjoyed vegetarianism and mostly for all of the selfish reasons -- my body loved the lack of unhealthy food (because realistically most of the meat I ate came from fast food/eating out), I loved how my skin wasn't as prone to break outs, and I loved that my bank account reaped the benefits. But I was deeply uninformed about the environmental and ethical benefits I was also reaping by not financially supporting the meat industry. I remained pretty uninformed outside of Antony's influence and knowledge on vegetarianism up until about one/two ish months ago, (which is honestly hard to admit but with growth comes admittance of flaws and that was a big one of mine through this journey), when I discovered a community of ethical bloggers on Youtube.
This discovery actually started on Instagram. I kept seeing the phrase "fast fashion" thrown around and I was curious about the hype. I went searching on Youtube for answers because it was late at night and I couldn't be bothered to research something that required reading. I found a variety of different bloggers who discussed fast fashion and other environmentally relevant issues in ways I had never been exposed to. **(You can find a couple of the videos here.)** I knew of sweatshops but I simply never took the time to truly understand what they were, how they functioned and how my money supported them. (Welp, turns out sweatshops are just truly fucked -- it also turns out the fast fashion industry is the exact unethical, wasteful, and inhumane industry of your nightmares but I will go into more detail of this in a separate blog post). Seriously. I was floored. I felt stupid. I felt betrayed. I felt angry. But I also felt responsible and ready to make better decisions. So I kept researching.
The more I learned about the fashion industry (via Youtube & documentaries that are linked here), the more I learned about my options in terms of resolution. And it came down to sustainability. The aim of a sustainable lifestyle is to reduce individual impact on the environment by engaging in conscious, ethical practices while also making use of what has already been produced in the world -- with the aim to produce less waste; which might sound like a bunch of bullshit but I can assure you it isn't. It's an incredibly valid and powerful movement. This is where I realized how intersectional the values of sustainability are. They don't just apply to the fashion industry, these values apply to my diet, my waste management, my artwork, my consumerism... the list goes on forever. Sustainability just suddenly made sense to me. It makes sense to live consciously, to be aware of what I consume and how much waste I produce on a daily basis. It just makes sense. And it turns out that veganism is an incredibly sustainable diet.
So I made the switch. Well, I watched the documentary Cowspiracy and then made the switch (click here for info on Cowspiracy). And now I am completely in love with veganism. The more I learn about the meat, fish and dairy industries... the more appalled I become and the more I want to boycott them. And it seems that the best way to boycott these industries, also happens to be the most sustainable practice a human can engage in to help save the planet, veganism.
And SHIT do I love being vegan. It's challenging. It pushes me to remain conscious of my surroundings, my food, and my purchases in ways I've never known. It forces me to confront unethical practices I've spent a lifetime neglecting because I, like the rest of society, was bred to believe these practices are humane and normal. It also forces me to acknowledge my unhealthy past. It's not easy to reflect and realize that I contributed to those terrible industries for nearly a quarter of a century. But veganism also provides room for growth and hope. It reinstates my ability to make healthier, more conscious decisions for myself and my planet. And that is what keeps me going.
Thank u for reading and please enjoy the picture below of my beloved partner eating breakfast at the beach. He looks crabby but I can assure you he was very happy.
<3 <3 <3