Why Vegan is more fun than Vegetarian

Sorry for the long delay between posts.  End of semester takes up all my free time for writing.  I will be sharing an interesting paper I wrote about a vegetarian poet from the 19th Century, so…silver linings.

That brings me to my post today.  Why being a vegan is way better than being a vegetarian.

My wife and I went vegetarian together 9 years ago while at Warped Tour in Long Island.  So, for anyone who has ever volunteered to hand out flyers at an event or just saw these flyers and wondered if they really make a difference, we are living proof that they do.  Keep it up!

Seeing the pictures and messages on those flyers scattered all over the ground, covered in dirt, gave us the final push to give up meat.  Looking back now, the only thing that surprises me is how long it took us to go vegan.

For 8 years, we lived on a steady diet of cheese at almost every meal.  Not really the healthiest vegetarian diet.  If you go vegetarian for health reasons, then you probably won’t make the same unhealthy choices I did by eating grilled cheese sandwiches twice a week for dinner.  If you go vegetarian for the animals, like I did, then you will probably make the same mistakes as me.  You will also say to yourself,  or someone else “I will never go vegan, those people are crazy!”  99% of vegans at one point in their lives said or thought this, just ask them.

So what made me vegan?  Two things:

  1. After asking an omnivorous coworker of mine not to tell me what they were looking up about dairy on their computer that day as I sat next to them, and having him read it aloud to me anyway…Justin!…I was filled with horrible guilt. (Yay run-on sentences to emphasize something!).
  2. Getting involved with a farm sanctuary near my house (check that story out here).

So now that all that useless information is out of the way, I will list why Vegan is greater than Vegetarian, with no boring science to back up my unquestionable claims (shake fist at nonbelievers).

Health

Overall, a vegetarian diet is healthier than omnivorous diets, but as I showed above, there are serious pitfalls.  You can’t lower your cholesterol if you consume the amount of cheese and eggs that a lot of vegetarians eat.  This will sound gross, just bear with me here…As a vegetarian my BMs resembled that of a deer.  While that is all well and good for deer, rabbits, goats, etc… humans are not supposed to drop pellets!  This was due to a lack of fiber (too much dairy, not enough veggies).  After making the switch, my droppings are the definition of healthy according to Google…moving on!

The second thing I noticed was that I felt lighter, and had more energy, particularly in the morning.  When I first went vegetarian, people asked me if I felt any different, and honestly, I didn’t.  Admittedly, I rarely ate red meat or pork when I was an omnivore, so maybe that had something to do with it.   After transitioning to vegan, I felt great both physically and mentally (more on psychology below).  And this will shock meat eaters, but my protein levels went up. Gasp! What did he just write?! Yes people, I actually eat more protein on my vegan diet, than I did on my vegetarian and omnivore diets.  And, in case you’re wondering…I am not a whole food plant based vegan.  Maybe one day, but “those people are crazy!” I love Oreos too much.

The Food

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A delicious vegan pizza from Two Boots

I’ll keep this brief, because this is not a food blog, and I don’t have any original recipes to share.  But in a blunt manner VEGAN FOOD IS WAY BETTER THAN VEGETARIAN!  It’s so much tastier and full of variety.  Awesome vegan restaurants, like Blossom and Cinnamon Snail have the best tasting food I’ve ever eaten. Real vegan food (not the tasteless salads people think we always eat) is filled with flavor and spices and such variety that it’s like visiting a new country with every meal.  It’s fantastic.  And I want to point out, that I did not expect this when I made the transition.  This was a very pleasant surprise.

World View

As a vegetarian, I didn’t really see the world any differently.  I never noticed the leather shoes I bought, or the wool sweaters I complained were itchy.  I still saw steak as food, but just a food I didn’t feel right eating.  My common answer to people when they asked why I went vegetarian was, (and please don’t judge me too harshly for this) …”I don’t think it’s wrong to eat animals.  I just don’t agree with the factory farming environment from which they come from.”  Awful, I know.

I don’t know if this is going to convince anyone on the fence, but what I will write next is honest.

When you become vegan for moral reasons the world around you will NEVER look the same again.  A trip to the food store is like walking into a graveyard with open caskets everywhere.  You do not see anything with animal products as food anymore.  When I’m asked if I miss any food, I honestly tell them: “I don’t see that stuff as food anymore.”  Cheese is not food; it is an orphaned cow.  Eggs are not food; they are ground up baby chickens.  Wool is not clothing; it is a helpless prey animal forced to surrender its body for humans that have so many other means of keeping themselves warm.  Leather…well looking back I never understood why I was OK with leather when I was a vegetarian, weird.

Now, this may seem like it’s too drastic of a change for you to go vegan, but the upside of this is perhaps the best reason why vegan is greater than vegetarian.

PRIDE

You know why the joke goes: “How can you tell if someone is vegan? …Don’t worry, they’ll tell you;” that’s because we are incredibly proud to be vegans.  Veganism is not a diet.  I repeat, IT IS NOT A DIET.  Veganism is a way of life.  It is a family that you choose to join.  You cannot force someone to become vegan: that will not last.  Being vegan fills you with a purpose that your life now makes a difference for the animals you no longer eat/exploit.  Every day we “vote” with our dollars (a phrase I heard from Gene Baur) when we do not purchase that beauty product from a cruel company, or that gallon of milk from a “humane” farm (give me a break).  We don’t have a strong voice in politics yet, but as our numbers grow, so too does our effect on the marketplace.  This is something to be proud of.  We protect the unprotected, we are a voice for the voiceless, we are the compassion in a cruel world.  Yes, I know that we are mainly focused around animals, but our compassion extends to all living things (human and nonhuman) it is just that the staggering numbers of animals slaughtered and exploited every year takes precedence in our thoughts and actions.  But anyone who supports the harm/exploitation or conducts the harm/exploitation towards humans, is not a vegan.

We are proud to be different.  We are proud to stand up for animals.  We are proud to eat a bland salad at a restaurant, because that’s our only option when our friends or family forget to think of us when picking a place to eat.  And when you meet a fellow vegan, there is an instant connection because your world views are in sync.  WE ARE LEGION…just kidding, but you get the point.

 

That’s my short list.  There are lots of other reasons why being vegan is so great, but I already exceeded the word limit I try to put on myself for these posts.

 

As always, thanks for stopping by

 

-Paul

 

P.S. my dog is also a very proud vegan!

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How Farm Sanctuaries Rescued Me

The general mission statement for Farm Sanctuaries all around the country, falls along the lines of promoting veganism through education by saving farm animals and showing compassion to all living beings.  As a contributor to three separate farm sanctuaries, I can assure any skeptics, that these mission statements are truer than any school, corporation, and big non-profit missions I have come across.

A “Peaceful world rooted in respect and justice for all living beings;” are the exact words from Woodstock Farm Sanctuary’s website.  Farm sanctuaries live by these principles and it does not only extend to farm animals, but to all animals (human and non-human).  And I can prove it.

Let me briefly start with the story of why Kristen (my wife) and I needed farm sanctuaries more than they needed us.

Last year, my wife and I suffered the loss of a loved one, which sent us both into a downward spiral of grief and depression.  While this tragedy brought my wife and I closer together as we fought on and supported one another, it unfortunately caused some other relationships in our lives to weaken.   We lost hope in the world, and did not know what could possibly make smiles return to our faces.

One day, in late November, Kristen sent me a video from Farm Sanctuary’s “Adopt a Turkey” program that featured Kat Von D and Moby talking about having a compassionate meal for Thanksgiving.  At this time, we had been vegetarians for just over 8 years, and we were seriously considering turning vegan.  We never knew that farm sanctuaries existed, and once I saw this video I dove head first into finding out as much as I possibly could about these organizations.

Two weeks later, Kristen and I decided to take part in Farm Sanctuary’s “Adopt an Animal” program and we “adopted” (more of a sponsorship) a Holstein bull named Conrad (R.I.P.), who resided at their Watkins Glen location.  We chose a cow, because at this time I felt horribly guilty for eating cheese and I wanted to try to amend for my unforgivable eating habits.

Suddenly, hope for a better future started to reveal itself in our lives.  Researching the tremendous work Farm Sanctuary has done, gave us a much-needed distraction from our depression and opened up a whole new community to meet with like-minded individuals.

full_17454-1431746910This story now brings me to Woodstock Farm Sanctuary in High Falls, New York.

Watkins Glen was too far for us to visit regularly, so I looked into closer sanctuaries to become more involved with, and I found Woodstock.  This sanctuary was only an hour from my house (less than my commute to work), and they let volunteers come any day of any week all year long!  I never really had any volunteering experience, but I was very experienced in physical labor.  So I decided to fill out a volunteer form and try it out at least once.  In an odd way, doing this also gave me the final push to give up dairy, eggs, and fish and go fully vegan.

A few days later the volunteer director, Todd (an awesome guy! FYI), emailed me and asked me to come up to the farm that Saturday.  I was so excited, and also slightly nervous about volunteering.  Needless to say, this was the best decision I made all year.  After a day full of stacking hay, cleaning turkey coops, and petting goats in 13° weather, I was addicted!

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Tony and Amy braving the cold to come say hello

I started volunteering at least once a month ever since that day, even going as far as to dress up as Dylan, the one-eyed cow, at Hallowoodstock.

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Me and my nephew, Luca, at Hallowoodstock

My wife would volunteer with me sometimes, and she was always right by my side in supporting these sanctuaries in any way she could. Most importantly, we were doing something to help these animals that were saved from their horrible fates in factory farms, backyard butchers, etc…

In 2017, we planned 2 vacations to one place…yep you guessed it, Farm Sanctuary! Here we got to meet our “adopted” cows, Sonny and Orlando.  We adopted Orlando after Sonny passed away and joined his buddy Conrad.  I’ll miss you guys.

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Orlando giving kisses
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Sonny, Kristen, and myself

It was during our first visit in June that Kristen got to meet and pet a turkey for the first time.  This turkey fell asleep as Kristen pet her and I could see all the distractions in our lives and in the world in general, melt away from my wife’s heart.  After all that we had been through, all the relaxation yoga, vitamins, and tips from “experts” on how to manage stress and depression, it was this moment that changed us.  This moment of being with another creature who only desired what we all do (love, comfort, and happiness) who trusted Kristen and closed her eyes while she stroked her feathers, made us both realize how wonderful it is to be safe, comfortable, and alive.

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This is how I started to understand that Farm Sanctuaries not only save the lives of these mistreated and exploited animals, but they also save the lives of humans.  My wife and I are never happier than when we are on the property of an animal sanctuary.  Interacting with goats, turkeys, pigs, cows, and all the rescued residents allows you understand what love is, and how that power can transform you.  There is a lot of hate and sadness in this world, which is the harsh environment where most of these animals come from, but on these wonderful properties there is only love and compassion.

We all have had bad moments in our lives, and I can honestly say that feeling like you are a part of something and making a difference in a cause that you truly believe in, can change your perspective and realize the worth of love and life.  I only ask that you extend that love of life to the animals who are so often forgotten.  Whether you are vegan or not, you can tell when an animal is grateful to have you with them, and I am certainly grateful to the animals of Catskill, Woodstock, and Farm Sanctuary who have changed my life forever.

 

Now, I know why you all read this so…

Here are some more animal pictures!

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#TeamBenny
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Andy
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Farm Sanctuary sheep (sorry I’m bad with remembering sheep names)
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Clyde
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Trident
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Now you see me..
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Now you don’t!

Thank you for stopping by,

Paul