November is World Vegan Month! If you're new here, and somehow couldn't already tell, I'm a vegan. (You didn't think you could meet a veg head and not know about it in the first two minutes, right? Kidding, kidding! That's a false stereotype 😉) I am a lifelong animal lover but it wasn't until I was a teenager that I realized loving all animals means including animals that were farmed for my food; thus, I became a vegetarian at 14 years old. I made the connection my freshman year of high school when I did a research project on animal rights. Said research led me to countless gruesome images of slaughterhouses, factory farms, and labs that conducted vivisection. I went vegetarian overnight, never looked back -- and vowed to "one day go vegan." You see, I made the excuse that since I lived in Small Town, Ohio there was no feasible way for me to cut out dairy and eggs. Well, I continued lying to myself about it throughout college. And then through the early years of my adult life. And then fast forward 14 more years since I first stopped eating meat, and after a handful of half-assed, failed attempts at trying out plant-based living, I finally fully committed to the lifestyle at age 27. I share this story because it just goes to show that every single vegan has their own journey, whether they were born and raised plant-based (I have personally never met anyone who belongs in that category, however) or tried 400 times and finally on attempt #401, it finally stuck. We all get here on our own timelines and with the method that works best for you. Now, I'm not going to lie to you - if you are reading this, YES, I do want you to stop eating meat, dairy, and eggs, wearing animal skins as fabrics, and to switch over to cruelty-free brands of your favorite cosmetics, cleaning supplies, etc. But I do also understand that hearing all of that can seem way overwhelming to commit to all at once and to quit cold tofurky (that's a classic vegan joke there for ya) overnight. That's why I continue to share ongoing simple ideas for you to add a little more veg and a lot less cruelty to your day-to-day life (read the first set of easy tips here).
Start with one step you can take right now
Pledge to yourself that, for example, every breakfast you consume will be vegan. Or that you'll only get the plant-based option when dining out, no matter where you go. Or that you will watch one animal welfare documentary a month. These can really add up to big changes over time.
Purchase vegan treats for your pets
Every single veg product you buy to replace your typical meat/eggs/dairy makes a difference, no matter how seemingly small it may be. Your companion animals need their fruits and veggies too, so why not make their tasty treats plant-based? The two favorites in our household are V-dog and Zuke's.
Take your friends to a vegan place the next time you go out
You're probably (re: hopefully) already cutting down your own meat consumption and eating Beyond Burgers when you can find them at the store, but why stop with yourself? Invite all of your loved ones to join you in your journey to a plant-based lifestyle. The next time you're meeting for lunch suggest the local vegan spot so they can also see how delicious the food tastes too!
Follow all of the farm animal protection groups on social media
Ready to really learn about the harsh realities of factory farming? Follow all the top farmed animal advocacy groups such as The Humane League, Animal Equality, Mercy For Animals, etc. They frequently post undercover footage that makes it impossible to want to continue to support these industries with your hard-earned money. (Hey, it worked for me! Forcing myself to watch an undercover video from MFA is what finally made it truly stick. You never know what'll be your final straw!)
Share the knowledge you discover
So you took the step to educate yourself about the realities of factory farming? Bravo! Now go one step farther and share what you learned. It can be as simple as hitting "Share" on a Facebook post from one of the orgs listed above, or you can write a personal blurb about where you are currently in your journey to cutting out animal products and why people should join you. You never know who you'll impact. (Pretty much every time I post something vegan-related, I have a slight twinge of "Oh my gosh, am I going to offend/annoy/frighten people?!" only to then be sent a message from someone I never expected to hear from asking for advice. It's so motivating to keep going despite our innate fears of other's personal opinions!)
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What steps are you taking towards a cruelty-free lifestyle? If you're already vegan, what are your top tips?
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Well, I hope you found that helpful! I am headed up to Northern California for the next few days for our work retreat. I'm so excited to hang out with the team and the rescued farm animals!
Lastly - but equally as important! - since today is Election Day, please don't forget to get out and VOTE. ** If you're in California, make to vote YES on Prop 12! **