The Surprising Perks of Veganism

Many people associate veganism with sacrifice, depravity, and even forms of extremism. It's not hard to make those associations when you look at us from the outside in. Even after 3 months of being a happy vegan, and routine meals with family and friends, I still get the "I'm sorry", "don't look", "I'm not trying to make you suffer" line as someone shoves a chunk of cheese into his or her mouth in front of me. No matter how many times I explain that it's okay, and really, there is no emotional reaction at all on my part, this doesn't change. When I say no emotional reaction, of course sometimes there is a bit of a negative emotion that I feel (and keep to myself) for the animal that was exploited in order to feed this person something they really don't need to eat, but certainly there is no proverbial salivation going on.

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In any case, us vegans know full well that what we do is neither sacrifice, nor depravity, nor any form of extremism. We really enjoy the food we eat, we are conscious about our impact on nature and feel constant self-appreciation over that, and frankly, we don't find our dietary habits to be anything out of the ordinary. We shop at the same grocery stores, and we prepare meals with what we have in our pantry and refrigerator - same as everyone else. Sure, we make different choices, but doesn't everybody?

So let's talk about some of the surprising perks of veganism, shall we? Here's my personal "short list":

  • The freedom and peace of mind that comes with knowing that we make intelligent choices about what we consume, rather than just mindlessly shoveling who-knows-what into our bodies
  • The personal satisfaction that we are doing more to help the planet than most so-called "environmentally-concerned" people out there
  • The willing self-exposure to new foods and ideas about life that most people would never consider
  • The relative isolation from most forms of food-related illness, both short term and long term
  • The long term health benefits that we enjoy versus almost everyone else we know
  • The beauty of knowing that we actually "practice what we preach"

For me, becoming vegan has led me on a self-discovery tour de force, both in terms of what I consume and how I think about life in general. It did not even occur to my prior self to think of how things actually made it to my butcher's case. Or, I equated environmentalism only with "miles per gallon". These are just small examples. Today, I do think about the problems of unsustainable animal "factories", the wasted energy that goes along with bringing mass-produced consumer foods and beverages to market, and the long-term health and environmental effects of just about everything I do. Call me crazy, but I just can't help it - I think about it all the time now.

With regards to more superficial things - I have gained a tremendous appreciation for different cuisines I would have never considered before, primarily Indian cuisine. Together with that comes learning more about the culture too. I feel like I am just beginning - next up is Ethiopian, and then, who knows? Mind you, when I consumed animal products, I would not consider eating a meal that did not focus around a giant slab of meat. Today I am much more in tune with preparation methods, spices, and even the cultural and spiritual significance of what I eat. Yes, my fellow meat-eating friends, Barbequeue is not the only cultural culinary experience one can enjoy! (Okay really, that was me not so long ago.)

So what are your favorite perks of veganism, particularly ones you did not expect when you actually went vegan?

 

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Posted in Art Post Date 12/20/2016


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