There are many reasons to adopt a plant-based diet. Some people do it because of the health benefits, which are huge, while others do it for ethical reasons. I can tell you that for me, even though I value my health greatly, I don’t think I would be 100% vegan if it weren’t for the ethics of it. Here’s my story:
When I was in my early twenties, I wanted to go to Yoga School to learn to teach yoga. I worked as a carpenter/tech in a theatre and I had to compete with strong men, lifting, carrying, pushing, climbing and all sorts of physically demanding tasks. My back hurt a lot. I woke up in the morning in tears from the pain. I knew yoga would help, as it had in the past, but I couldn’t afford to go to classes regularly. I wanted to learn to teach so that I could heal myself and then help others do the same. The program I wanted to go to had a lot of rules. No meat, no fish, no eggs, no caffeine, no alcohol, no smoking, no drugs, no television, no books (except those that fit with the curriculum), no movies or music, no internet or newspapaers… The list was long. I almost didn’t go through with it because I didn’t think I wanted to go four months without chicken, fish and eggs. (Ironically, I had given up beef (easily) about six months prior to that when I found out how incredibly destructive the cattle industry is to the earth.)
At the theatre we had some amazing volunteers, all retired men in their seventies or eighties. Many of them had bad knees, eyesight, hearing, motor skills and more, but one guy, Morris, was at least in his early eighties and played tennis most mornings. He was amazing. He said that he was a paper-hanger (wallpaper) in the thirties and somehow figured out that he could do twice as much work if we didn’t eat meat. He was vegetarian the rest of his life. He encouraged me to do the program, and it seemed wise to take advice from a guy like Morris.
As part of our curriculum, we had to read Food Revolution by John Robbins (of the Baskin Robbins family). It was full of scientific evidence proving the health dangers of animal products. It also talked about all the dishonesty perpetuated by the meat and dairy industries. That all scared me into vegetarianism, but what kept me there was the rest of the book, which talked about the realities of producing meat and dairy for consumption in America, and the atrocities committed against farm animals. Farming had moved from grassy fields to factories, and it was an ugly process. I had always thought that eating meat was part of the “food chain” and that it was natural, but after reading that book I had a much different view. There is nothing natural about the way meat and dairy reach our tables.
I came away with an understanding of what our bodies were designed to digest, what our earth can reasonably handle and how the unnatural processes of growing meat and dairy make those products absolutely toxic. I remember sitting in my bed, crying, letting the truth of it all sink in. That may sound dramatic, but I felt (and still feel) that the truth of it all is very sad. Thankfully, I have found a way to feel good about my role in it, every time I eat.
After a few weeks of eating a high raw, vegetarian diet, meditating and practicing yoga daily, my back felt much better. That wasn’t a surprise. What was a surprise was that the rest of me felt so much better, too. I hadn’t had any complaints about my health before I started, but as I continued, I realized that I just didn’t know how good I should be feeling. My digestion was amazing, my skin was glowing, I slept better, my mood was calmer and happier, my hair and nails began to grow like weeds… The list goes on and on. I stopped getting sick – no more colds or headaches, no more stomachaches or sore throats. I began to feel more of a connection to the world around me – the people, the animals and the earth. It was a big change, but it never felt hard for me. I remember a lecture one day in which my yogi told us about the first time he realized that he could live a perfectly healthy, happy life without ever harming another living creature, and that’s when it hit me, too. Maybe you are reading this thinking, “I don’t care about killing animals.” That’s fine. I never had a problem with it either, until I did.
It really helped that the rest of my yoga class was doing it with me, and we supported each other. My boyfriend went through phases of wanting to eat well with me, but it never stuck. That was fine, though, because we both knew it mattered to me, and so I was able to stick with it.
I can tell you that it was one of the most profound changes of my life, and one of the easiest. I can tell you that it has led me to find my passion, and also much more compassion. I can also tell you that after helping other people make this change over the past eight or so years, I know that you have to be ready to make this change, and you have to do it for yourself. Being informed and having all the facts helps a lot. Having support is invaluable.
I hope that you consider the information here, but I also want you to know that you are welcome at Life Warrior, whether you decide to go veg or not. If you want to try it, we can help you, but if you aren’t interested, we respect that, too. Thanks for reading my story. John’s story is coming soon, and will be unfolding here, as he makes his way towards an even more plant-based lifestyle.
Sincerely, Amanda, Partner and Lead Yoga Instructor of Life Warrior