Why I'm Vegan: A Reason I'd Never Considered Before
By Milly Hailstone
As I sit here at my desk eating breadsticks I feel compelled to tell you my vegan story. It's not going to be your usual plant-based tale, because as usual, I’ll be taking a look at the surface, and what lurks below. Aside from being vegan for animals, our world, and my health, there’s another reason. But I'll begin with the basics.
The Moral Side of My Food Choices
Whenever there was a piece of an animal on my plate I felt guilty. I pulled this bag of guilt around me every day, propping it up at the dinner table next to me. I was raised to eat meat and consume dairy like most people. So, what changed?
After I discovered what really happens at slaughterhouses, and when I started to look past animals packaged up as 'food', I discovered an unsettling reality - mass killings of innocent, sentient beings.
Then, I discovered that animal agriculture is destroying the world by accelerating global warming. And then, I discovered meat and dairy are ridiculously unhealthy and are the causes of many diseases.
So, I really had no choice. The taste of bacon is not better than death, destruction, or illness. (This is the perfect response to when some idiot says “bacon tho”.)
It’s hilarious that veganism is called an extreme diet, when actually what’s extreme is mass killing, rainforest destruction, and poverty. Did you know there are enough grain and soy to feed the whole world? But, it gets fed to farm animals instead, which can only feed the few.
The Psychological Side of My Food Choices
When I dug a little deeper I discovered another reason.
I’ve been a control freak all of my life, and I’m pretty sure this isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned this on this blog. When I lose control, my mind becomes a frenzy, I have no self-control and stuff gets blurry. So, I make lists and plans and commit to living my life in a way that’s good for me. But, ya know, it’s not always been like this. You’ve read my How to Get Your Sh*t Together articles, right?
I love to eat. I always have, and I grew up with my mum telling me, "Your eyes are bigger than your stomach!” Lucky, I also had a fast metabolism and love of sport which counteracted my love of grub.
But, when I was a teenager something changed. I noticed the habits of my mum, she’s obsessed with being healthy and only eats just enough - she says that is all she needs because she is small.
Then, there was the pressure from magazines - What is a bikini body? Did I have one? By this time, I’d been convinced by the media that I must look a certain way, and I felt destroyed when I looked in the mirror and saw different. Inside those glossy pages lurked something dark and destructive.
What I saw wasn’t what other people saw. I saw flaws and stretch marks looking back at me - and yet to others, I was perfectly skinny. I think this was around the time of the Size 0 obsession. The heroin chic of the 90s, if you will.
I started calorie counting, I got addicted to the myfitnesspal app and limited my calorie intake to just 1,000 per day. Instead of hunger acting as an indicator that I needed to eat, I turned this feeling into a reward. If I felt hungry I knew I was doing it right.
I had a friend who was on the apple diet. It wasn’t just me who this affected, it was my whole generation- the girls and the guys. Everyone was judging everyone, and we were brand new to social media - a place where others would (and still do) tear you down to make themselves feel better about their own insecurities.
When I think back to these dieting days, I realize that I am vegan to stay in control. It’s a direct reflection of the way I used to limit myself around food. Am I trying to gain back control in this fast-paced world? Or does the limiting side of veganism mirror an unhealthy eating pattern I picked up in my teen years?
In the gap between my fitness pal and veganism, I had little self-control. At 19, I went to uni unable to cook. I’m pretty sure half of my student loan was spent on Pizza Hut and McDonald's. Somewhere during this junk food diet, I found veganism for the first time. I didn't last though, as I just wasn't ready. I think I ate bread and potatoes for 2 weeks, then swiftly gave up.
After Uni, I worked in restaurants where I had easy access to unhealthy food. With 12-hour shifts you often don’t have enough time to eat and while working at Wagamama I would only eat one meal per day - usually a plate of fried noodles or katsu curry. When you work long days on your feet, one meal isn’t enough.
I needed order, and again veganism gave that to me - this time it stuck. I'd watched all the life-changing documentaries, and had enough emotion tied to this cause to make my life align with my new beliefs.
While I maintain that it's one of the best decisions I've ever made, it's interesting that my reasoning behind it might be more than what's on the surface. Is veganism a way to validate to not eating certain kinds of food? Or, is it a healing process?
It's safe to say I'm no longer counting calories or tracking every bite with a toxic app. In fact, I'm feeling the healthiest I ever have - physically and mentally. Whether or not veganism has strange links to my unhealthy past, it's certainly a lifestyle filled with positivity.
Fellow vegans, I'd love to know your story. If you'd like to write a guest post on the topic of veganism, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org