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  how i made the switch

Hi, my name's Lauren and I've been a vegetarian since the beginning of 1995 and vegan since around September 1999. I was born in 1980 so depending on when you read this I'll be somewhere in my mid 20's. I gave up red meat in 1993, but I didn't have a concrete reason at the time. I was 13 and red meat was a popular thing to give up for "health reasons". Looking back I know it was my conscience starting to lead me in a dietary direction I would feel better about, and shortly after my best friend convinced me to go lacto-ovo vegetarian. I was definitely on the lazy side of vegetarianism and didn't do much research until right before I went vegan. I still feel like a heel for wasting so much time eating dairy and eggs when I could have found out about plant-based nutrition earlier on. I did give up leather and other animal skins/materials around 1997, and cut bee products out of my life in 2003. Ya know, it all sounded so "difficult" in the beginning, but actually the only hard part was changing my perceptions and priorities. The rest was easy!

I largely follow my conscious on making the decisions that make me a "vegan", rather than follow a set of predefined rules. Luckily my choices very closely follow those laid out by the original Vegan Society in the UK, so I don't contradict and confuse the term vegan. I feel properly describing one's dietary and lifestyle choice is important so as not to water down the definitions and confuse people as to their true meanings. For example, there is no such thing as a "dietary vegan" and if I ate plant-based food but still used animal products in other aspects of my life I would correctly label myself as a "total vegetarian" rather than a "vegan". This is so important to me because the term vegetarian has been distorted and incorrectly defined by so many people that it is now generally believed that vegetarians eat fish and even chickens. (Because both are vegetables, you see.) This makes eating with non-vegans and discussing veg-related topics more difficult, and I would hate to see the same thing happen to the general understanding of veganism.

The concept of "dynamic harmlessness" (or ahimsa) is also very important to me, and that in conjunction with my Christian faith very much defines who I am. Rather than just doing the least harm, I strive to do the most good. Part of my contribution to veganism is putting together the information on these webpages. Being a vegan doesn't mean that I care about animals more than humans, but instead means that I give reverence for all life and that my compassion doesn't have any boundaries. Of course knowing that I actively put my beliefs into action makes me feel good about myself, but I don't think I'm better than anyone because of it. Although veganism is clearly not a competition some vegans still get into a mind set that because their lifestyle is more strict or "correct" that they're of a higher moral caliber. It can be hard to watch people doing things I know are so damaging, but I remind myself that like them, I used to be totally uninformed about such things.

Essentially I'm a vegan for moral reasons. I am learning more about nutrition every day, but I mostly live this way to appease my conscience. My beliefs are strong enough that I am not tempted to "cheat", because I know how I would feel afterward and what I cause to happen with those choices. But luckily this choice doesn't make me a dull, sad person. Quite the contrary! I have found that I love cooking/uncooking and baking, learning more about veganism, and meeting new vegan friends. There are a lot of travesties that my eyes are now open to, but I'm still a plucky, scrappy kid with a voracious appetite for fun (and food). Hells yeh. I was also extremely lucky to have married Sean, who shares my beliefs, and together we make quite a team. We've both made the choice to go vegan for life, and if our first few years are any indication, we'll be happy vegans for a loooong time. If you have any questions feel free to give me an e-mail.


All text by LK, except where noted. Distribute freely, but please link back to Vegan Info.
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