Being Vegan – This is No Time for Excuses
By Paul Graham
Las Vegas Informer
Really. There is really little time for excuses these days as to the lifestyle choice of living your life free from the consumption in any way of animal products, whether for food, clothing, or whatever. I realize that there may have been a day when people thought it necessary to take the life of another living creature in order to eat or clothe themselves. Frankly, those days are long past. We do not need to consume animals or anything that comes from them. The companies that raise and slaughter these animals for human consumption want you to merely see them as a necessary commodity that you find in the store. But they are so much more than that. They are living, feeling, intelligent beings that deserve so much better than the existence and short life that is forced upon them. It is also generally accepted now that we can thrive without consuming animal products and it would actually be better for our health if we did not. It is not about needing to eat animals or using anything that comes from them. It is about wanting. And to contribute to a system that it not only unethical and cruel, but also one that contributes to our health crisis and damages our environment is just selfish. We need to stop making excuses to justify our selfish behavior.
People want to be convinced that this really is bad for the animals, our health, and the planet. We live in an age where information has never been more readily available to us. In a moment you can find the truth whether by reading or seeing graphic images of what really happens to animals raised for human consumption. It is all very real and you should not be able read about these things or see pictures or videos of the brutal reality of what goes on and not somehow not have a change of heart. If it does not affect you then I would really question your heart, conscience, and humanity. It is impossible to turn a blind eye to it. I know people who will watch anything and everything in the horror genre of movies but will not watch anything that has to do with animal cruelty and slaughter. Why, because one is product of Hollywood and the other one is real and leads us to have to make a choice about our lifestyle? And that might somehow inconvenience us. Well, it is long past due to think beyond ourselves and think about the impact that our choices have on all living beings and the planet that we live on. We need to stop buying the lie that we need all of this, when in fact we don’t and we would be so much better off if we didn’t. Again, it is not about needing any of this. It is about wanting, and we can change those desires and choose a lifestyle that brings life and does not contribute to suffering and death.
People will consume food that is not healthy for them and generally live a lifestyle that can lead them to poor health, disease, and death. When this happens, their is a tendency in our human nature to want to say “woe is me” and even want others to feel sorry for us when it was our own choices that led us to this place. To me, that is shameful. While we need to love and support people whenever and wherever we can, we all should take responsibility and own the consequences of our choices. I have never and will never want anyone to feel sorry for me for anything that happens as a result of the choices that I make. Nobody was forcing bacon and other things down my throat for the many years that I consumed them. It was my choice and I only knew what I knew at the time. When I knew better, it simply led me to make a change in my lifestyle. Seven years ago I wanted to optimize my health and give myself the best chance for vital health and longevity. I found that the key to this was through exercise and diet, but that even exercise could not overcome some of the ill effects of our diet choices. Some of the biggest culprits in our diets leading to disease and death I found were meat and dairy. If we could eliminate these from our diets it would give us a much better chance for health, vitality, and longevity. So I did…and I have never looked back for a moment. I took responsibility for my health and made a lifestyle choice that has had an impact far beyond my own life. It was then that I embraced the ethical, environmental, and spiritual aspects of what being vegan is.
People will say, “Well I know someone who used to be vegetarian or vegan, and they no longer are anymore because they got sick.” Well, like anything else, it is possible to mess it up and not do it right. It is really, really hard to do that with all of the resources and information that is out there. It is actually very easy to do it right. I would also say that they probably only did it for diet reasons and did not embrace the ethical, environmental, or spiritual reasons for doing so. If they did fully understand the ramifications of their lifestyle choice on animals they would never turn away from it without any conscience. If they understood how animal production for human consumption is ruining our environment they would stay committed. If they realized the great spiritual benefit from living a life without harming another living creature, it would have a lasting impact upon them. I also think that vegetarians are somewhat more vulnerable than vegans because they are still consuming animal products. Their lifestyle is more positive than perhaps it was before but they have not fully embraced the ethics of what being vegan is all about. It is very difficult for an ethical vegan to ever turn away from this lifestyle. And for every one that you might read or hear about I will give you tens of thousands of others that are healthy and strong and committed to making this world a better place. It is happening and the numbers of vegans are growing in unprecedented numbers and are having a great impact in countries all around the world.
You may have heard that living vegan is somehow more expensive. That may be one of the biggest fallacies out there. When I used to go shopping in my pre-vegan days, usually the biggest ticket items that I was purchasing food-wise were meat and dairy products of some kind. Those have all been replaced by healthier and cheaper alternatives. Fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes will always be less than meat and dairy and give you everything you need. Even the alternative meat and dairy products have not only improved dramatically in quality but also their price points are now equal or less than the animal products. There are thousands of vegan cookbooks published every year now and the internet is full of amazing recipes. The food is amazing that you can cook at home and fabulous vegan-friendly food options are in restaurants now almost everywhere. Plant-based food rocks! It is healthier, harms none, and is great for the planet. You will also suffer nothing fashion wise by moving away from animal products as there are such high quality clothing alternatives out there. Even at Mercedes Benz, you have to ask for leather as an option but you would never know that the seats are not leather because the quality of the imitation is so good and yet is cruelty-free. Oh, I could go on and on. If you have not crossed this bridge…please take a moment to stop and think about how little you really have to lose and the possibility for all that you and the world has to gain by your lifestyle choices. Stop making excuses, because they really aren’t even good ones. Feel it…live it…and embrace it. Go all the way with it and do it right and I promise you that you will never, ever regret it. You will no longer be part of the problem but now a vital part of the solution.
Paul Graham was born and raised in Northern California and has lived in Las Vegas since 2004. He is a top wedding officiate, a green Realtor and writer. He has a daily vegan food blog www.eatingveganinvegas.tumblr.com which is 365 days and 365 vegan meals in Las Vegas. He can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/EatingVeganinVegas.
Paul‘s revised edition of Eating Vegan Vegas is now available in bound book form and can be ordered through Amazon.com or any independent bookseller. The e-book version can be found at Kobo.com.