20 Things I Don't Miss About Eating Animals
As I approach the start of my fourth year as a vegan, I find myself thinking a lot about how much my life has changed over the past 3 years. I begin to think of all the things that I no longer feel, think, or experience on a day to day basis since deciding to forgo animal products. As many of my readers are new vegans or veg-curious, I think this is an interesting list to share!
Let's get onto the list! BUT FIRST... One thing I want to make clear is that I am NOT commenting on anyone other than myself and my own experiences in this post. Just because I have done, felt, or experienced something does not mean I think everyone else does, feels, or experiences the same things. I am not judging anyone, pointing fingers, or criticizing anyone else. I am merely sharing the interesting changes I have noticed in and around myself through reflection over time.
Phew. Ok. List time! (Excuse the copious amounts of memes. They're just so perfect.)
20 things I don't miss about eating animals...
1. The bloating. Ugh. I spent most of the time very very bloated when I still ate meat, dairy, and other animal products. And let me tell you, it wasn't any fun. Pretty much constant puffiness in my belly region, despite being slim and a dancer. Now I'm not saying I never get bloated now, of course I do - I am human, after all! From time to time after eating a more processed vegan meal, or eating too much food too quickly, or while on my period, I will get bloated. But the bloating is far less extreme and painful, and thankfully goes away much much quicker. (And no, beans don't cause crazy bloating. If you experience that it's likely that your body isn't used to the high fibre content and cannot process it properly. The more fibre you eat (and/or the more often you eat beans) the less bloating you'll experience as your body becomes accustomed.)
2. Seeing dead flesh as edible. I mean, how gross is that when you actually stop and think about it? And while we're at it, the texture of meat. Because, ew.
3. Those extra 15 pounds. I hit puberty pretty late, just as I was leaving high school. The natural changes in my body were amplified 2,000% by the terrible diet of beer, pizza, and processed foods I began eating at college (made up of LOTS of meat and dairy). I graduated feeling larger than I ever had and feeling uncomfortable in my body. In the first couple of months as a vegan (even though I pretty much only ate vegan junk food and meat and dairy substitutes) I lost 15 pounds, just like that. Veganism for the win!
4. The cognitive dissonance. I enjoy the newfound clarity I have achieved in lining up what I believe with reality, rather than trying to marry the thought of happy cows, chickens, and pigs with the realities of the industry (of which I was aware, as most are, though ignoring it with all my might). I am no longer wilfully ignorant, nor trying to maintain a paradox in my mind. What a relief!
5. The cheese addiction. It was pretty serious. I would eat a whole block of aged cheddar in a sitting. I would eat an entire bowl of parmesan cheese on its own with a spoon. Literally. I don't believe any addiction is healthy, and while cheese may not seem to be as destructive as cigarettes or drugs and alcohol, I do not want to feel dependant on any substance to get through the day. Plus, dairy isn't great for anyone involved.
6. Being poor. Not only is buying meat and cheese expensive (puh-lease to everyone who complains that eating a vegan diet costs more... eating animals is not cheap!), but spending money on eating out every single day just because I can eat at any random restaurant or fast food joint (of which there are 47 billion within a 4 block radius in every major city in the world) does no good for the wallet, either. Being vegan fixes that problem pretty darn quick!
7. The moral inconsistency. It was confusing to spend 19 years of my life as a serious animal lover, and yet to take pleasure in the products of animal suffering. I don't like being confused. Being certain about where I stand on the subject of animal rights feels so much better.
8. Not caring about the environment. Other than a general avoidance of littering, my environmental consciousness was limited to putting paper in the recycling rather than the trash. Now I get to say that I am saving gallons of water, acres of land, and loads of resources with my daily choices as well as reducing funding for the number one cause of greenhouse gas emissions (animal agriculture).
9. Constipation and other digestion issues. I'm now a well-oiled machine, without the oil.
10. Worrying about getting sick from raw or rancid meat. This was a serious cause of anxiety for me on a daily basis. What if I didn't clean my cutting boards well enough? What if the meat expired yesterday but I didn't notice? It's nice to feel safe in my own kitchen.
11. Having to know someone for a long time to realize who they really are. Now I find out pretty darn fast. Like when the fact that I'm vegan comes up in conversation and the first thing they say is some sort of insult or insensitive comment.
12. The lack of purpose. I wasn't a robot before I went vegan. I had opinions. I cared about stuff. I was passionate about things. But I didn't really have direction. Going vegan gave me a tangible goal, an area in which I could make a real difference in the world - and that is seriously motivating!
13. Being a follower. I'm not just like everyone else anymore. I don't do things just because they're normal or just because it's what's expected of me. I do what I want. I go my own way. I live my life the way I feel is right, no matter what the majority is doing. And that is incredibly liberating.
14. Not being a a discerning shopper. GMOs, pesticides, high-fructose corn syrup, lists of chemicals so long I can't read them in one breath... none of it mattered. When you go vegan, though, you kind of have to read every ingredient label. And that ended up being pretty awesome, because the more labels I read, the more I became concerned about all of the ingredients in my food, not just the animal ones. (This also applies to clothing, beauty products, home products, and more!)
15. Not feeling a part of a larger community of like-minded individuals. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, vegans are everywhere and we make it a family affair wherever we go! I love how much we support each other and lift each other up. Also, finding out someone you've known for a while is vegan...
...is like finding out you're both part of some super-secret-awesome club.
16. Accepting (pretty much) everything I was told at face value. Yeah. I'm over that. I'd prefer to decide for myself what I believe.
17. Not caring about my health. I was young. Teenagers don't tend to take notice of their health. They're so resilient that they don't have to. But even still, I was constantly getting sick, getting injured, and feeling off. Since going vegan? I still get the occasional cold (maybe one a year). I've had a dance injury or two. I have low-energy days. But on the whole? My health is noticeably superior in every way.
18. Not standing up for myself. I used to be a people-pleaser. An apologizer. Now I don't let people take advantage of me, put me down, or disrespect me without a word or two. I've to stand up for myself so often that I've become a pro. And that's not a bad thing.
19. Not getting to hear the hilarious things people say to vegans. Seriously, people crack me up. Also, not getting to educate people on very basic, common sense things such as... drumroll please... plants contain protein. Or even better, cows don't just produce milk constantly for human production. They actually have to give birth to a calf, first. Since they, you know, only produce milk so that their babies can live. Like every other mammal in the world, including your mom. Yeah, crazy, I know.
20. Who I was. I've learned so much, not only about the world, politics, industry, our society, nutrition, health, and the way the human mind works, but about myself. I used to be pretty self absorbed. And I hid who I really was from pretty much everyone. Now I shout it from the rooftops. Because we only live once, why spend our short time on earth pretending to be someone we're not to please people we don't even necessarily like? Being true to yourself and leading by example is the most important thing you can do in life.
I hope you enjoyed this slight departure from my usual programming. Let me know what you think in the comments below!
Until next time,