I am a vegan, and I was a vegetarian, for a number of reasons. I have discussed some of these reasons in subtopics you can read by clicking on any of my blog pages.
My story starts in high school. I thought about vegetarianism a few times. Deep down I knew it would be better, but never did anything about it except for trying an Indian friend’s extra veggie burger instead of a regular hamburger once at a barbeque on a Colorado River white water rafting trip. It was good and I liked eating it, but I never did anything to change my diet for years after that. I was afraid of being different and of standing out in a homogenous crowd. But mostly I was just lazy and was putting it off. I think deep down I knew that if I looked into this idea and started researching I would end up feeling morally obligated to not eat meat. I was also afraid of how my family and friends, and people I wanted to be my friends, would react. I didn’t want to have to explain my eating habits to Mormon boys (something that is still problematic at times.) But after I grew up a bit (I emphasize a bit) I stopped caring so much what others thought and was able to look issues head on and make my own conclusions about them. This is how I became a converted Mormon and a converted vegetarian (in that order and years apart.)
The vegetarian thing started for reals when I was at BYU in my 2nd year. I was reading in the Doctrine and Covenants (one book of LDS scripture) in the section commonly known as the Word of Wisdom which is dietary guidelines that Mormons follow. In D&C 89: 12-15 it is stated,
“12 Yea, flesh also of beast and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless
they are to be used sparingly;
13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
14 All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the
fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;
15 And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.”
It so clearly says to me that we shouldn’t be eating animals unless we need them for some reason to save our life. And yes, the grammar and punctuation are precise and important. Look closely. I colored some important words and punctuation and it is clear grammatically to me that “these” in verse 15 refers back to the animals listed in verse 14. If you want to read more from this chapter of D&C or see it in context, go to http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/89 .
So that is where it started. I set off to find out why we (Mormon’s in general) weren’t following what I felt was a pretty clear doctrine. I set out to excuse my meat eating. I hoped I would find the reason why meat eating was okay and go back to my happy carnivorous life. I got really into the research and it led me to all sorts of reasons to forgo eating animals- not just religious reasons and not just for the sake of the animals reasons. I started seeing all the health, environmental, and economic benefits of being a vegetarian. It was a full and complete picture and case for vegetarianism with the only deterrent to the veggie lifestyle being convenience, the current pervading culture, and a taste for animal flesh. I was starting to be swayed.
Months later, after multiple discussions with many friends and family members (none of which supported my views and all of which told me not to become a vegetarian because I was wrong or it was needless and pointless and would just make my life harder) AND after lots of discussions with my Heavenly Father in prayer, I decided that to feel good about how I ate and to please God, I was becoming a vegetarian. I have never looked back.
For the first 5 years of being a vegetarian, I thought vegans had an out-on-a-limb-too-weird-for-me philosophy. I didn’t see the harm in eating eggs and milk products. I knew I would never be a vegan. It was too hard and pointless. And then I started to hear little things and then the honest need to know set in and I started to research the vegans’ reasoning. I can’t ignore facts or my moral compass, so now I am a vegan.
It is easy now, but it wasn’t always easy. In the first few weeks of being a vegetarian, I would forget at times and eat meat someone made for me. Turning vegan was even harder. It is harder to explain to people and often people think negatively of vegans…or they don’t even know what the word means. So in the first few months, I ate dairy laden casseroles that had been especially made for me (meat free but saturated fat full) or was just plain weak and ate Christmas cookies delivered to my family. Vegan is a big adjustment- especially since as a vegetarian I had been depending on dairy as a huge protein source. I was hard on myself. A failed day as a vegan made me really upset with myself. But it really does get easier. It got easy for me within a few weeks. I don’t even miss cheese and ice cream like I did at first and like I thought I would forever. I just eat differently now. I don’t eat many of the substitute foods out there anymore, but they are a great crutch for the newly converting vegetarian or vegan.
Now I am writing a blog and hoping certain people in my life who I think could really benefit from this diet will at least make some changes. I am also hoping to be a bit better understood and to have a place to refer people when their educated by dairy commercials ignorance is coming out. And yes ignorance is the right word for it but I am NOT saying they are stupid. I was them a year ago. You just don’t know what you don’t know. And it can be mind blowing!