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A few weeks ago on Facebook, I asked people to share what "vegan" means to them -- to answer the question what is vegan? There were so many answers; so many different viewpoints. A real reminder that the vegan community is just as diverse as any other community.
What brought us to a vegan (or plant-based) diet is unique for each of us. What it means to us, how it is interwoven in our lives -- we all are walking our own vegan line.
Over the next week we'll be sharing what vegan means from a variety of people and perspectives and introduce you to a few new faces from the vegan blogging world --- but for today, we'll start with me.
What is vegan? What does vegan mean to me?
My veganism started out from an ethical and moral standpoint. I was moved by the plight of farm animals. I went vegan to make a difference, save lives and practice compassion.
But after a while my veganism started to shift. It was still grounded in my love for animals, but as I started learning about the health benefits of a plant-based diet, and the negative health effects of eating animal products, my veganism became about my health, too.
And still there was more change. I always considered myself an environmentalist -- a real tree hugger, and when Iearned about what the animal agriculture business and fishing industry was doing to our land and oceans, my veganism also became something I did for environmental reasons.
I look at my veganism now as a three-legged stool that can't stand upright without one of its legs. My motivations are always in play, always working together in my life.
For example, I was visiting a friend of mine that lives way out in the country on a beautiful and large piece of land with his dog, wife and pet chickens. He loves his chickens the way most people love their cats or dogs. They are his babies. During one visit my friend said to me, "Lindsay, I know why you don't eat eggs at the store -- because of the cruelty. But you know me. You know I love my chickens. They have a good life. They are going to lay eggs anyway, and they're just going to go to waste. You sure you don't want some?"
It caught me off guard, really. I'd never really thought about this scenario before...
My friend had a good point... and if my only objection to eating eggs was cruelty, I wouldn't have a reason to say no... but because my veganism is rooted and interwoven with so many beliefs, I declined.
I declined because putting the cruelty and moral issues aside, I don't think eggs are healthy. In fact, I think they're unhealthy given their cholesterol (read more about that here.)
But the point is, why you come to a vegan or plant-based diet, or why you stay with it, or what it means for you may change over time. It certainly has for me. My veganism continues to be an evolving journey and the best decision I have ever made.