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Being that it is WORLD VEGAN DAY and I have this platform, I want to share a little of my story. I grew up being told we needed meat to survive. Ironically, I first turned to a plant based diet for health reasons. I will admit though, having grown up on a farm I saw the whole process. I was so emotionally confused but to be honest, as I got older I felt more numb to it. That sounds terrible but it was all around me. I think there was a hardening of my heart as almost an emotional survival technique. We would get attached to these innocent little beings, we couldn’t help it – they were so cute and so vulnerable. But then we would have to say goodbye and at some point they would end up on our plates, or someone else’s.

Fast forward to me in my twenties….I was in such horrific pain constantly. Doctors had no answers. After several years I started to lose hope I would ever live a normal life. I couldn’t even hold down a job. I came across a doctor who asked if I had ever tried changing my diet. I hadn’t and was so desperate to be free of the pain that I did a complete elimination diet. I hadn’t even meant to give up meat permanently, I just wanted to figure out what my body was reacting to. Within three months of giving up meat though, a miracle happened. I went two of the three months without pain and was continually feeling better. For the first time in almost a decade I was off my pain medication that doctors said I would be on my whole life. When people would say ‘Good for you but I don’t think I could ever give up meat…’ I realized there had to be some sort of addiction involved with eating meat and dairy. And yet, the release from my pain was overriding any of my taste satisfactions. For me it felt like it was a matter of choosing life or death. I had meant to re-introduce meat back into my diet when ‘malnourishment’ set in, but the reactions from the people around me when I was on my elimination diet were not what I expected. I thought I would receive more support and less criticism. I wasn’t joining a cult, I was sick and I just wanted to feel better, but whatever my reason I wasn’t hurting anyone else. It was actually the opposite.

Then I started coming across other vegans. It was like being a little person and thinking you are the only one in the world and then you turn a corner and find this whole village of people just like you. That is when I reached the point of no return. It proved to me that one cannot only survive on a plant based diet, they can thrive. Now I meet vegans everywhere I go. My doctor, the same one who saved my life by encouraging me to try changing my diet, is vegan. My clients who have become my family have decided to go vegan too. The interesting thing about it is that everyone has a unique story behind becoming vegan. Instead of judging them, ask them about their story. For me, I am a truth seeker, and the more I learned about animal agriculture, the more of an obligation I felt I had to do better. It is not about being perfect, it is about compassion and wanting to be a decent human being. I think for a time I learned a behaviour where I could compartmentalize my feelings. But it didn’t feel emotionally healthy, it scared me. I have always wanted to protect the underdog. And yet, my daily actions were going against my core values. Through my experience I have come to believe that when we eat fear and suffering, we become it.

I also realized that my choice of whether I eat meat and dairy is not just a personal choice. It will affect my nephews and my niece. It presently affects the rainforests and the inhabitants of those forests who don’t have a choice, and it affects the millions of people facing water shortages and who don’t have a choice. People are actually losing their lives to climate change and they don’t have choice. I don’t think my personal choice should eclipse everyone else’s. ‘I HOLD THAT, THE MORE HELPLESS A CREATURE, THE MORE ENTITLED IT IS TO PROTECTION FROM THE CRUELTY OF MAN.” {mahatma ghandi}

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