Veganism has been the biggest adventure of my life so far, and it is only beginning.
In January 2017, I started eating a mostly plant-based diet, early in the year I still ate a little cheese (especially at night after a rough day!), but I had stopped eating meat, poultry and eggs. It took longer for me to stop eating fish, mostly because I didn’t sympathize with sea animals the way I always had for land animals.
I’ve always been in good shape, and am naturally thin. But as I aged beyond 22 years old I found my body no longer looked the way I liked best if I didn’t work out 3-4 times a week. This had changed from my younger self who did not need to put any effort into fitness and ate loads of MacDonald’s cheeseburgers and Starbucks sandwiches etc. while still maintaining a flat stomach and toned limbs.
I didn’t lend much thought at all to what I put in my body, and eventually this kind of thinking landed me with a bad case of psoriasis all over my arms and legs, plus tiny patches and spots all over my body, which would flare up when I didn’t sleep well, was dehydrated, partying too much or eating particularly shitty. I handled this with a huge dose of denial and a wardrobe full of long sleeve shirts.
Once it started to develop in my hairline, forehead and cheeks I flipped out and finally saw a dermatologist. She recommended me some topical creams which did not work and burned a hole in my wallet. So I took to Google with renewed vigour and searched for hours about natural cures for this embarrassing and unsightly rash that was fucking up my life.
Veganism to the rescue!
I found that a vegan diet was supposed to help with a variety of different ailments, including afflictions of the skin like my own. Having already begun eating mostly plant based and watching many documentaries on the subject of health, nutrition, and the relation between the modern westernized way of eating and adverse effects on the environment, I was intrigued further.
So I began to research deeply on veganism, and realized that it was not a diet, but a lifestyle. Then I began to look at the world with fresh eyes.
A walk through the meat section of the grocery store caused tears to well up in my eyes and my breath to catch in my throat. I saw carcasses lining the shelves and display cases and shop-keepers passing pieces of these murdered animals wrapped neatly in plastic or paper to a smiling customer holding their dog on a leash at their feet. (Can you say double standard?! A pig is smarter than a dog!) Instead of drooling over insanely priced high heels in Nordstroms, I noticed that most of those shoes were made out of the skin of a murdered animal. Wool, silk, and fur were next. Then down filled pillows, blankets and coats. (Don’t even get me started on Canada Goose – I will cover that in another post mark my words.) I saw the cruelty behind articles made with animal materials and it was heartbreaking. Then I began noticing that almost all conventional candy has either milk chocolate from dairy cows or gelatin (a protein substance made from boiling animal bones and connective tissues). Even my fucking lipgloss had been tested on animals. I felt like Neo when he bursts out of the pod in the Matrix. Was this really the world in which I lived?
I couldn’t get these new ideas out of my head, and what’s more, I didn’t want to. Though this huge influx of knowledge left me completely drained and disillusioned by day’s end, sometimes crying myself to sleep over all the animal suffering in the world that I was now acutely aware of – I wanted to climb on top of a building downtown and scream my new knowledge from a megaphone.
Having always been… shall we say, a little fiery (I have, as many women have, been called crazy, wild, insane, psycho and so on and so forth) I relished this new opportunity to get mad for a good cause. These animals need warriors to fight for them and I am so blessed and grateful to be able to do that. I’m also extremely blessed and grateful to live in the beautiful city of Toronto, Canada which has a thriving vegan community. I began to feel a fierce desire in my soul to use my love of writing, hot temper and people skills for something other than getting myself into trouble.
Something clicked in my heart and I knew this was what I’m meant to do in life.
My social media feeds began to be heavily influenced by these news views and I noticed likes on my posts dwindle to basically nothing if it was a vegan post, versus around 40 or so if I were to post a super cute selfie! This hurt. And this gave me more fuel.
I knew that I couldn’t be the type of person, never mind vegan, that didn’t stand behind my beliefs – be they popular or not. Thankfully, Toronto has a plethora of vegan groups on Facebook and listed on Google. I joined up to many of them and was happy to read through the posts, garnering inspiration and seeing how many different types of personalities were included under the umbrella of veganism.
I learned pretty quickly which groups I wasn’t a huge fan of, given the inflated egos unfortunately present in some of them, as well as many under-educated keyboard warriors commenting on posts that had to do with farming (not factory farming) that offended me, as I knew better given my background.
So eventually I settled into the groups I like, and left the ones I don’t like. (ahem, Toronto Vegans Facebook group) commenting and posting for myself and making some new vegan friends online. This was all well and good – but I wanted to get out there and lend my voice to the cause for real.
At this point, I found Animal Rights Toronto and their handy-dandy events calendar. At least once a week there’s something going on, whether it be a vigil at a slaughterhouse, a Cube of Truth, speeches or documentary viewings, gatherings of all sorts! The first one I participated in was the Cube of Truth at Dundas Square on December 1 2017. This changed everything for me.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead
The event lasted 3 hours. During which time I was assigned to be part of the Cube as it was my first event. Activists who had participated in more than 1 cube had the option of being an ‘outreacher’ meaning that they would be able to speak with people who stopped to watch the videos and provide information, answer questions etc.
Mask on, I was placed in position alongside my fellow Cubers. I couldn’t see anything to either side of me and was not supposed to move while I was in the Cube. My fingers were FREEZING and my shoulders aching from inactivity. Even so, I was fully determined to stick it out. It was highly interesting to hear passers-by and people who stopped to watch the videos being played on laptops and iPads held by my fellow activists. Though I wanted to pipe up several times, it became easier to let the outreach Cuber’s speak to everyone interested in listening without wanting to add my two cents.
I experienced several different emotions throughout the duration of the Cube
- Pride – that I had gotten to an event and it was REALLY HAPPENING.
- Anger – at some particularly vicious and ignorant reactions of people in Dundas Square
- Melancholy – that I had lived nearly 25 years before doing this. That I will hear ignorant comments like that at every event I do (and I’m sure I’ll do a lot!) That I saw so many people and I wished all of them would stop and speak to us, and they weren’t.
- Radiant Joy – when hearing someone discuss the event and veganism in general with an outreacher and even more so when the person committed to become vegan going forward.
- Most importantly – conviction – I had never felt so sure that this was exactly where I was meant to be, and what I would do for the rest of my life.
If you’re interested in joining vegan activism events in your city, Google is a great resource, as is The Vegan Society.
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