Vegan's Chronicles + [vegan politics]

My Vegan Testimonial

Before I go any further with this blog, I want to give a little background info on how I became vegan. Warning: it's going to be a long one, so here are some illustrations for your viewing pleasure.

In my former life as an omnivore, I loved to eat animal meat. I'm pretty sure I used to tell people that my favorite food was 'bul-go-gi' which is Korean beef bbq. I was never a big milk drinker, but like just about everyone else, I was addicted to other cow secretion products like cheese, and I considered yogurt to be one of my 'healthy foods' (gross!). I basically ate animal products for all the misguided, illogical reasons as everyone else: protein, cultural upbringing/"everyone's doing it", and taste. I had a lot of vegetarian friends in college, but never once really considered it for myself, and I remember thinking that vegans were freaks who only ate salads (not that I don't love me a good salad once in a while!). Looking back on the past, it's truly amazing just how much I have grown and changed.

For me, I didn't become vegan overnight. Infact, it was about a 2 year process. I have always been an environmentalist at heart, and when I first moved back to Korea from the US, I was doing some personal research on the environment, which led me to realize that consuming meat is one of the biggest contributors towards environmental degradation. So I basically denounced cows, pigs, and chickens from my diet for environmental reasons. Needless to say, for the next year or so, I was still eating fish and other seafoods, as well as dairy products and eggs.

However, as time passed, and the more research I did on animal rights and factory farming, the more serious this got for me. I read several books such as Jim Mason's 'An Unnatural Order,' and 'Appetite for Profit' by Michele Simon (both brilliant), and I was listening to the 'Food for Thought' podcast by Colleen Patrick Goudreau (so educational and lovely), and I pretty much got to the point where I could no longer justify consuming any animal products with lame excuses. When I first stopped eating meat, I never imagined going vegan, but now I have realized that veganism is the end goal of vegetarianism. The motive of compassion for animals is now the strongest reason for the way I eat.

So in September 2008, I officially became vegan.

Let me tell you. This has been one of THE best decisions of my life, and there is no way I'm going back. I still remember the absolute JOY I felt because I knew that I was one step closer to living according to my values (afterall, what's the point of having values, if we don't live them, right?). I am so much happier with myself and my place in the world... I don't know how to explain it fully, but it felt like the weight of guilt was lifted, and I felt (and still feel) so much peace just knowing that the food on my plate did not require an animal to suffer. I realize I might sound really hippyish right now, but I mean it!

In addition to just feeling great about my food choices, I also feel way healthier. I haven't been sick for the longest time, and I have lost some weight since becoming veg. This does not mean that vegans are always healthy though, because it is very possible for vegans to be unhealthy due to sugar, oil, plain old overeating, and physical laziness. But this new lifestyle has opened my life up to the world of nutritional eating. People might think that vegans only say "no, no, no" to life, but I see it the total opposite way. Veganism has opened my life up to so many 'yes'es. Where vegetables and fruits were once displaced by animal products on my plate, they have now reclaimed their rightful place! And my tastebuds have TOTALLY changed. I used to detest tofu, all beans, kale, soymilk, eggplant, "dwen-jang" (Korean fermented soybeans), "mook" (Korean jelly-like side-dish made from chestnuts), and slimy seaweed, but now I love them all. One of my favorite snacks these days is just eating plain black beans one by one, which you would never have caught me doing before! And veganism has also completely diversified my diet with foods that I just didn't eat much of in the past, like sweet potatoes, pumpkin, swiss chard, celery, chickpeas, and melons. I have even been introduced to completely new foods too, like quinoa, agave syrup, and nutritional yeast. yum!

Phew, I could go on and on about how happy I am about being vegan, but it would make this post way too long. Basically, I am a happier person now than I was before. Plain and simple. Ignorance is NOT bliss (unless bliss = murder and suffering). And to all my fellow vegans out there, don't lose hope for those who don't understand our lifestyle, because if I can change, other people can too.

Thanks for reading.

lovelovelove,

Mipa