Veganism (/ˈviːgənɪzəm/) is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, as well as an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals. A follower of veganism is known as a vegan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veganism).
I find that many people use veganism as a way to define who they are. They label themselves as being a “vegan,” and after so much time practicing this lifestyle, it begins to define them as a person. However, I find this way of thinking to be unhealthy. It is ridged and strict, which is not at all in line with the vegan diet, though many people view veganism as such (ridged and strict).
Let me provide some background on myself. I was a vegetarian for over 10 years. In 2008, I let go of that diet for health and personal reasons. I went back to eating chicken, beef (at times), and fish. Yes, I ate at McDonalds and Taco Bell and Arby’s. Why? Because I had to. I will not get into every reason right now, but I knew that eating without thinking was what I needed. And I lived that way for 4 years. I am grateful I did. Now, ethically speaking, I do not condone eating meat and I never have. I have always 100% supported the vegan lifestyle. But for 4 years, it was not an option for me personally.
Last year, I weaned away from meat products SLOWLY. I then moved away from eggs, and lastly, dairy. It was a transition over time and one that, frankly, I feared in many ways. I knew that I had to continue eating new foods and varying my intake—not relying on 2 or 3 meal choices every day. Honestly, I eat more of a variety of foods now than I ever have before.
Veganism is not something that defines me. I am the same person I have always been, no matter what I eat today. It is a diet, a lifestyle, a movement, a belief, a religion even, but it is not who I am. I am Kate, and yes, I happen to be a vegan. My belief system that supports veganism does, in part, define me as a human being. I stand behind what I do and who I am, but I caution you to not let food and diet in and of itself define your being. Also, don’t let your view of others be swayed by their diet choices. Stop looking at obese people with disgust, stop judging the man in line at McDonalds, stop belittling the woman buying Kraft Mac and Cheese. Feel compassion for others; understand that others are not where you are in life; and encourage a healthy lifestyle by thriving in your own. And most of all, be who you are today and every day, no matter what is on your plate. Don’t define yourself with food, don’t judge yourself using food. Love yourself, forgive yourself, be yourself.
And as I often write, and truly mean, happy eating