I “officially” became a vegetarian during my senior year of high school after effectively being one for some time before that. As a child I’d always felt guilty when eating meat, and it came to a point where I just couldn’t do it in good conscience. Since then, I’ve learned so much about why a vegetarian lifestyle is all-around awesome, from the health benefits to the environmental aspect. And part of that learning journey has led me to the realization that to truly feel happy, whole, and conscionable, I have to live a completely cruelty-free, vegan lifestyle.
My journey to veganism has taken a similar route as my path to vegetarianism; I effectively ate vegan for a year before making the official switch. Having my own kitchen during my senior year of college meant that I cooked vegan for myself 95% of the time, and I found that vegan eating – and the vegan blog community especially – opened up so many new vistas of culinary fun. But since I’m the type of person who is really uncomfortable when I feel like I’m inconveniencing someone, during that year I would occasionally eat non-vegan foods. If a friend made dinner with dairy products, for example, I would feel way too guilty to turn her down and I’d eat it anyway. But then I’d feel even more guilty for going against my beliefs. It was no good.
But those days are over. I can’t live my life worrying about pleasing others; ultimately, I am accountable to myself, and I never felt 100% pleased with myself when I knew that I’d compromised my moral beliefs just to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. No more. After all, feeling selfish because I’m doing what I can to end animal suffering is just silly, isn’t it? Three years after my official switch, I still feel just as strongly that I made the right decision for my ethics and my health, and I haven’t looked back.