Veganism versus Plant-Based Diet
Just recently, one of the students from my daughter's high school reached out to me. She was writing a paper about veganism for one of her classses and wanted to interview me about my experiences as vegan.
Even though I've been called a vegan for my diet preferences, I always felt uncomfortable calling myself vegan. I think a lot of people don't have a clear understanding of what veganism is. I, myself, had no clue until I learned more about it and believe me, there's definitely a clear difference between a vegan and whole food plant-based diet.
In my lifetime, I ate a lot of food that was animal-based like seafood, pizza, cheese, eggs and ice cream. I never gave a second thought about how those things got to my plate. I saw them only as food and never associated them with animals that had to suffer and be killed for me to have them. I was totally disconnected from thinking about the living creatures we share our planet with. Unfortunately, most of us are programmed to think that this is a natural part of life and as I have, never give it a second thought.
Before I discovered whole food plant-based eating over two years ago, I had never even heard of the word vegan. I had heard of vegetarians, but the first time I heard the word "vegan" was from my daughter. One of her friends was vegan and when I heard it, I asked my daughter what that word meant. I was told that vegans were people who didn't eat meat. Well, when I made the choice to stop eating meat, it was purely because I wanted to get healthy and nothing else. This is when people started labeling me as vegan. I always felt uncomfortable when people referred to me as vegan. I felt like an imposter because even though I might eat like a vegan, I'm truly not a "vegan", at least not yet.
It wasn't until I started educating myself that I truly began to undertand what veganism was all about. It's more than just choosing not to eat meat. It's a specific belief and lifestyle choice that eliminates all animal products from one's life for ethical reasons.
Do not consume any animal-based products such as meat, seafood, sausages, cheese, milk, & eggs.
Do not use any products that come from using animals such as leather, silk, down, cosmetics, shampoo, perfumes, etc.
Consume processed food such as vegan sausages, cheese, oil, vegan snacks, etc.
Consume animal-free fast food
Believe in animal rights and advocate eliminating animal sufferings.
Whole Food Plant-Based
Do not consume any animal products or dairy for a health reason.
Avoid consuming most of the processed foods such as white flour, sugar and oil.
Avoid fast food
Consume mostly unprocessed or minimally processed food such as vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.
Most people become plant-based eaters to get healthy and to prevent and reverse diet-related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
The reason why I don't classify myself as vegan is because I still own a lot of commodities that derived from animals. Even though I have eliminated all animal-based products from my diet, I have found it to be a little more challenging when it comes to eliminating clothing and things that I have been used to using most of my life. For example, how do you get rid of your leather furniture that you spent a fortune on? And how do you throw away your favorite leather jacket? It's amazing how much of the things we use daily and wear come from animals.
As far as buying things in the future, I have to be very conscious about what I buy, and sometimes, it's difficult to know exactly what I'm buying. How do you know whether a certain product has been tested using animals or not? I'm sure there are a lot of information out there but when you're just getting started, it can be very confusing. We also have industries that spend billions of dollars every year on marketing to sell us things and often, the truth is hidden from the public, and we are often programmed to buy things on a false impression.
When I learn about animal agriculture, the abuse and the horrific slaughtering of billions of animals for our consumption, I feel compelled to live as vegan. Whether it's through diet or lifestyle or both, I hope to live the rest of my life without inflicting unnecessary pain and suffering to other animals and help our planet become a better place to live.
My opinion on Veganism
I believe that all living creatures deserve to live a free and happy life. We, humans, consume animal meats and products by choice. In this day and age, we are not consuming meat for survival. Instead, it's merely for pleasure and our taste buds. We all have a choice, and I believe it's inhumane to breed and kill so many innocent animals that have feelings like we do and do not want to die. In the midst of breeding and slaughtering animals for human consumption, we're also destroying our planet. According to the experts, animal agriculture is one of the leading contributors in global warming and it's urgent that we do something about it. Otherwise, we can expect to have a catastrophic impact on our environment. By becoming vegan or plant-based eater, we're not just creating a better environment for ourselves but increasing the chance to live a long healthy life free of diseases and sufferings.
Recommended videos on veganism can be found under the "Resources" tab