I missed my vegan anniversary (veganniversary?). April marked 14 years that I’ve been vegan.
In my mind, that’s a good thing. Losing track means being vegan is no biggie; it’s a natural part of my life. I’m not trying hard to make it to the next milestone. It is part of who I am.
I remember the date, only because April is the month I moved from Canada to the USA. I’d read John Robbins’ Diet for a New America in 1998 and immediately cut out milk. I stopped eating eggs (except the ones hidden in baked goods). Cheese was the one thing I hung onto.
But a big move, an empty fridge, new grocery stores, restaurants, friends, and habits. What a perfect time to draw a line in the sand, step over it, and go vegan.
I’ve never successfully reinvented myself (partly because I bring myself with me everywhere I move); however, I did use April 2000 as a time to reinvent my eating habits.
I was already a staunch animal advocate and long-time vegetarian. Moving and “starting over” was a great impetus for taking the big leap.
After I settled down in Seattle, I connected with the Northwest Animal Rights Network (NARN), met some terrific (smart, funny, passionate) animal rights people, and plugged into AR events around town.
That was it. It stuck. But it wasn’t a chore. It was–and is–an uplifting experience. Being vegan fills me with joy! I’m healthier for it, and I know I’m making a difference to animals who have no voice.
Sure, I’ve seen my share of unspeakable horrors in undercover videos and exposés. I’ve read about injustices and cruelty to animals that I never could have imagined in my worst nightmares. But I need to know the truth–and fight for those who can’t. Turning away doesn’t stop the cruelty.
I’ve also learned that it’s easy to burn out. So I make sure I lead a balanced life, complete with hobbies, interests, friends, and work. As important as it is to fight for animals, I know it’s also important to unwind, relax, recharge, and enjoy life.
I really believe we’re on the cusp of the next big social justice movement. I want to be on the right side of history. When generations from now, people ask why these evils happened, and who fought for the animals, I will know that I did. In some small way, I will have played a part in changing the world.
Grandiose? Perhaps. But hope and optimism fuel me. Well, that and delicious vegan food.