I’ve been a vegan for probably one year now. When I started, I remember going on the diet in secret. I was a covert vegan. I didn’t tell anyone because I was concerned they might freak out.
I remember finding the vegan diet difficult because I lived with my family and my mother cooks my meals. Furthermore, when I am at work, I was too lazy to cook, so I always ate out at restaurants with coworkers or friends.
Rather than eat out with coworkers, for lunch I would instead purchase vegan food and eat at my desk. Now I make my own sandwich at home and bring it to work. Then I told my mother that I didn’t want to eat meat, cheese, and egg. She didn’t seem to like this at first, and my dad had a word with me about my behaviour, but I stuck with my position. After all, I wasn’t a child but a fully grown adult. If non-vegan food was served to me, I simply didn’t eat it, and I could easily blend my own green smoothie if I needed to fill myself up.
I am now mostly vegan. Some animal products probably slip in here and there. Sometimes I am vegetarian when eating out or travelling.
A few days ago, I was at a family gathering. My brother was there. Everyone was surprised at how skinny my brother was. His bones and ribs were showing. My concerned grandmother told my brother he needed to eat more. One family member joked that my brother was even smaller than me, which was surprising to him because I was a vegan.
Supposedly the stereotype of a vegan is that they are skinny and malnourished.
That night, while I was lying in bed, I thought about the incident. Before I was vegan, I often tried to be healthy. I tried to exercise a lot. I tried to eat healthy food. But often I would just fail. It was too tempting to eat hamburgers and bacon, so I would binge on the McDonald’s and KFC. I think the reasoning is because I figured that you only live once, so why not enjoy your life eating what you enjoy eating?
However, as soon as turned vegan, I found that the motivation to eat healthy and exercise was rock solid.
My dad used to be a smoker. He’d smoke several packs of cigarettes per day. However, when I was a baby, I accidentally crawled and fell into a cigarette ashtray. There was ash all over my face. My father realized suddenly that if he wanted to set a good example for his children, he needed to quit smoking. How could he recommend his children not smoke when he himself smoked? So he quit completely the next day.
Sometimes when faced with fulfilling a cause greater than himself, a man will act. When it comes to addiction, many of us are happy to feed the addiction, even if it costs us our health, but if it is another being who you’re hurting (e.g. your own child through passive smoking) then that is completely different.
The same applies to veganism. When I went on a vegan diet, I knew instantly that I would be judged. If I ended up looking unhealthy, if I ended up looking skinny and malnourished, people will shake their heads and blame the vegan diet regardless of whether the vegan diet was to blame or not. If someone is thinking of cutting down meat, dairy, and eggs, and they see a vegan who is skinny, pale, and malnourished, they will automatically conclude that the vegan diet is unhealthy and they will continue to eat animal products, and hundreds of thousands of extra animals will be slaughtered. Cows will be raped, pigs will be electrocuted, and chicken will be macerated.
If I don’t eat healthy and go to the gym, I will become unhealthy, and as a result I will represent veganism badly, people will increase their animal intake, and therefore hundreds of thousands of animals will be slaughtered, and there will be blood on my hands.
This was what motivated me. It’s easy to chow down on KFC and McDonald’s when it’s just your own health at stake, but when your decisions affect the lives of other innocent beings, that is a powerful motivator.