by Rachel Freeman
Whenever someone finds out I am vegan, some of the all-star responses are “What?! I couldn’t do that!” or “Good for you, but that’s not me” and the top charter “You can’t even eat cheese?! What do you eat?”
It’s always so weird to me how so many people ask questions about what food I choose to eat as a vegan, or how much I’m “deprived” of. Yes, I do choose to eat different food, but no one ever asks me why.
Veganism to someone who is not vegan may seem like, basically, a diet change. People think I watched a Netflix documentary and decided I need to start being healthy, and now I’m fighting to stick to my new diet choice every day thereafter.
Veganism happens once the third eye begins to open. Now, allow me to clear up some misconception about the term “third eye”. This is not some process you can achieve by taking a huge dose of LSD one day and suddenly you see the future. The third eye is a metaphor for seeing through information at face value. For example, when we were in elementary school, we were told the police is there to help us when we’re in trouble and they catch “bad guys” to make sure that the general population is safe. In recent years, many people have taken a closer look at the real mission and intentions of the criminal justice system. It’s become widely known to people who are interested in social justice, that oppression and white supremacy are interwoven through the entire legal system. This is a form of seeing with the third eye. Basically, you see through the bullshit.
But this does not always come with just taking a look at the hidden agendas of politics; It also comes with questioning things you never thought to previously. When you were a child, you were told to listen to your parents because they know best. Now, at this age, I’m sure at least a couple of folks have realized faults that their parents had in their parenting skills or just common character flaws. As a budding adult, you realize that authority does not always do what is in the best interest of you. You realize that not everyone has the answers you’re looking for, so sometimes you have to brainstorm them yourself.
Bonding the awareness of fallacies in societal systems with realizing the faults of authority and the information given by them, I became a vegan.
Some people realize that it is not just a trendy diet, which is great! You’re on the right path, but just because I gave up leather jackets and honey oat bath soap doesn’t mean I’ve had a lifestyle change. It is a lifestyle change because there is a shift in thinking. All growth starts from changing your mindset on the way you view your life. When you started high school, you probably went through experiences, friendship changes, and knowledge gains, and came out a different person at the end of high school. Your growth is due to you figuring out the way you did things or saw things previously may not have been the best for your wellbeing.
I consume meat alternatives like tempeh, tofu, mushrooms, and jackfruit because death can in no way bring me life and light. Yes, protein. Always the protein. Little do people know, all protein is originally made from plants. Any protein you consume from animals is just recycled. But we knew this! Remember your middle school biology teacher talking about plant cells. We know this, it’s just about stopping to think about it.
I use agave syrup and raw cane sugar, because the intensity of artificial sweeteners allows you to lose your tolerance for natural sweeteners in fruits and vegetables, further pulling humans away from nature. Why do you think major large food corporations sell you food that can aid in dulling your sweet receptors? How do you think those reasons benefit you, if at all?
I drink almond milk and use Tofutti because I don’t want to consume the food supply made for a baby calf; the same calf that was a product of rape in order to produce a breastfeeding cow. Are animals any less deserving of a life free of torture? Are humans the alpha species, and are we allowed by default to control others? Do you see any similarities between that kind of thinking and the theories used by humans in power to control other humans?
I like being vegan because meat has never been properly digested by the human body. Our teeth most resemble those in herbivores, our colon is significantly longer and more curved than carnivorous species. And on top of everything, no other species cooks their meat besides humans. If we have to alter our food supply by sanitizing, cooking, and seasoning our food (with plants in the form of herbs and spices), is it something that should be consumed in the first place?
I eat plants because I learned, through oppression and white supremacy, that my soul is just as beautiful as any others on this earth. I learned that morally all life should be treated with respect. I learned that humans are a part of nature, regardless of how much we attempt to separate ourselves from it. And I learned by the disastrous effects of Hurricane Irma and Maria, in the end nature always wins.
I strive to never be someone pushy or condemning of those who think differently, because veganism is not something that you can just do. If you feel like you are depriving yourself of something, then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Being vegan should bring feelings of gratitude, purpose, compassion, empathy, awareness, and ultimately good physical and mental health. It also is heavily based on forming opinions on the food industry and finding fallacies that don’t align with your value set.
Ask yourself these questions:
If you feel like people in power shouldn’t have the right to control or kill other humans they see to be unworthy of life, why should all humans be entitled to control or kill an animal? If you can feel the love your pets give and see the unique personality traits in them, why do those go unnoticed in animals like pigs, cows, and chickens? Why are so many farms in distant locations? How much effort do you think an overworked underpaid butcher in a meat factory is putting into making sure your meat is safe for your consumption? Why do you mistrust the government officials that have been contributing to mass incarceration and systematic oppression, but trust the same officials saying certain food is safe for consumption?
These are the questions that I ponder on a daily that have led me to make my own decisions and stop taking others’ information as law without examining it first. As complex and often difficult as it may seem, asking questions can open up infinite doors.
Stay inquisitive. Stay curious. Think for yourself.