Why Going Vegan Was The Best Decision I’ve Ever Made
I switched to a fully vegan lifestyle in September of 2019 and I’ve never looked back. I can say with the utmost confidence that it has been the best decision I have ever made (other than moving to Europe, of course). People seem very apprehensive when it comes to veganism and I think that most of that caution comes from misinformation and preconceived notions. This type of lifestyle is a win-win for everyone involved and there are so many benefits.
Veganism is a way of life in which one abstains from engaging in activities that harm animals in any way. We don’t eat, or wear anything animal derived, or use animals for our entertainment. We refuse to use products tested on animals and we make sure to keep their wellbeing in mind when it comes to any purchase or action.
Much of our everyday lives are rooted in speciesism and we don’t even realize it. Speciesism is when we discriminate against others of different species and believe we are superior to any and all. The truth is that we cohabitate and co-exist with nature which includes all animals. We simply cannot think that because we are cognitively capable, that we are superior. That would make us superior to babies and disabled people, but we aren’t. When we use logic instead of emotions to understand the biases against veganism, we start realizing the truth.
People think that veganism is about being perfect, but really it’s about doing the least amount of harm possible. For example, it’s normal to slip up sometimes and accidentally purchase something that has beeswax in it, or eat something and realize there was milk powder in it all along. We make honest mistakes just like anyone, but we learn from them, and it becomes second nature.
For me personally, I did not get rid of leather bags or shoes because to me, it would be a waste. Some vegans may think that wearing these items perpetuates the idea that it’s okay to wear animals, but for me, it’s important to make better decisions moving forward. So, I never bought anymore leather, wool, silk, or other animal derived items. I also never accepted any gifts that were non-vegan. I always check to make sure that my cosmetics and skincare are cruelty free and vegan, down to the perfume and lip balm I use too.
For me, I was always fueled by my love for animals. It was never a health, or environmental decision. It really was solely an ethical decision which is why I would consider myself an ethical vegan. In my experience, people who transition to a plant based diet and revert back to their old ways tend to go plant based for the wrong reasons.
While switching to a plant-based diet is easy after-the-fact, the beginning can be challenging and that leads to impatience causing people to switch back. What I have learned is that people who switch to a plant based diet for the animals will never revert back.
I can speak for my fellow vegans in saying that no matter what happens, we will always choose a vegan lifestyle even if it is inconvenient, uncomfortable, or unaccepted. When people switch to a plant-based diet for health reasons, it’s not a decision that stands on solid ground. This is because there are new trends, supplements, and protocols that come out on the daily telling us that this new way is the only way to live a healthy life.
When it comes to the environment, things are always changing and it can be a difficult feat to take on when you feel like the rest of the world couldn't care less. It’s unmotivating and it’s understandable why people choose to leave eco-conscious nutrition on the side.
That’s the thing though. No matter how difficult it is, how many people complain to us, or how inconvenient it may be, ethical vegans will always choose the vegan life. I like to compare veganism to any other socioethical movement. It’s about animal rights and leaving discrimination at the door.
What people seem to not understand is that veganism is a way of life. It’s not a diet. Plant based on the other hand, is a diet. It’s important to make these distinctions and understand them because when people constantly hear about people no longer being vegan, it sends the wrong message.
The Unparalleled Benefits
I studied biomedicine in my undergraduate studies at the University of Amsterdam, a top 50 university in the world. Throughout my studies, I realized that diseases and illnesses stem from inflammation. While inflammation is necessary to keep us healthy, excessive inflammation is really the root cause of all disease.
Everytime we eat animal products, we create inflammation in our bodies and this occurs for several reasons. Firstly, when we digest animal products like red meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and more, our bodies produce a compound known as trimethylamine N-oxide, or TMAO for short. Excessive TMAO levels create severe risk for stroke, cardiovascular problems, and heart attack.
Other animal products contain heme iron and while it is highly bioavailable, the major bioavailability causes this type of iron to bypass our fine tuned iron regulatory system which leads to inflammation in the arteries and further strain.
The saturated fat found in animal products creates an endotoxemic surge in inflammation within our bodies which leads to the stiffening of arteries and other blood vessels. The TMAO also negatively impacts our gut microbiome which can throw off the way our immune system releases inflammatory cytokines leading to excess inflammation.
If we think about the standard American diet, people consume animal products all day every day. Eggs, milk, butter, and cheese in the morning, processed meats for lunch (which are a class 1 cancer causing carcinogen), more meat for dinner which is directly linked to a much higher risk for stroke, various types of cancers, and more inflammation. There is not enough fiber in the standard American diet which doesn’t support a healthy microbiome and creates more fatty deposits in our arteries. There is no time for the body to rest.
Dairy is very intense for the human body. Cow milk is meant to help baby calves grow into huge cows which is why their milk is filled with growth factors. In order for them to drink enough, cow milk also contains casomorphin, an opioid peptide which enables the cow to want to drink more and more. For humans, this explains why cheese can be so very addicting!
If you really research the bodily impact of eating animal products, you’ll notice the risk for all diseases and conditions are heavily multiplied in comparison to people who consume a whole foods plant based diet.
I could take days to explain all of the health implications around animal products. I did do it in a 60 page thesis, but for now, this should suffice.
I always like to give numbers when it comes to the ethical implications of eating animals and other byproducts as it really puts things into perspective. More than 72 billion animals are slaughtered each year globally just for consumption and that doesn’t even account for sea animals, or animals used for testing, or entertainment. To put things into better perspective, one pig slaughterhouse kills about 1,100 pigs per hour. If we were to kill the earth’s human population at the rate we kill animals for consumption, the human race would be wiped out in just 17 days.
Aside from the animals, animal agriculture perpetuates social inequities as it contributes to world hunger and malnutrition. Slaughterhouse workers are in constant dangerous situations and horrible working conditions that are linked to several illnesses and workplace injuries. Not to mention the fact that it is totally traumatizing. All of the grain used for animal feed could be used to help stop malnutrition and global starvation. Here is a small excerpt from my thesis that sums up the wondrous impact of eating a plant based diet:
“A vegan individual saves 33 animals, 33,000 gallons of water, 900 square feet of forest, 600 pounds of CO2 gas, and 1,200 pounds of grain in just one month in comparison to non-vegan individuals (Kahn, 2017).” —Emily Volovitz, 2020
Some people will say that there are ethical ways to kill animals, but there’s no ethical way to kill a sentient being who doesn’t want to die. If you really dig into the research, you’ll realize that family farms are just as heinous and gas chambers are still a thing for animals.
The reason why it is so easy for me to eat a plant based diet is because I don’t see animal products as products. I see the ‘food’ as someone who has every right to live just like humans do. The 5 minutes of gustatory pleasure really means nothing if you’re taking an innocent life.
People always wonder why dairy is so cruel if they’re not killing an animal. They do actually. Dairy is the cruelest product out there and if you want to make a choice, choose to leave out dairy even if it means you won’t give up meat. Dairy cows are forcibly inseminated to produce milk and they are impregnated so many times that they’ll often die of exhaustion. Every time they birth a calf, the males are shot in the head or taken to veal farms. The girls are raised to do the same as their moms and produce milk until their bodies give out on them.
In order to impregnate the females, bulls are electrocuted to produce sperm to be used in the females. As soon as the mom has her babies, the babies are taken away immediately so as to not use up any of the milk that ‘belongs’ to humans. Did you know that we are the only species on Earth to drink another species’ milk?
Mothers chase after their young and pine after them for days. The babies are taken to small cages where instead of being fed proper milk, they’re given a sugary solution to replace the necessary milk. Imagine yourself as a pregnant woman having to go through huge bodily changes only to have your baby taken away from you and for you to be stuck to a machine that drains you as you lactate and having to do this over and over again until you literally cannot anymore. I know it’s graphic, disturbing, and unsettling, but these are the facts.
This is just a small fraction of the atrocities in the industry.
Greenhouse gas emissions produced from animal agriculture emit more emissions than all transportation sectors combined including air travel. One pound of cow meat requires 1800 gallons of water to produce. A plant based diet can reduce water consumption by half! A study from the University of Oxford concluded that switching to a plant based diet is the single best way to reduce your environmental footprint.
When we eat animal products, we eat fear, despair, anguish, sadness, helplessness, and everything painful in the sentient experience. We are all energy and when we consume an animal derived product, we don’t just eat the matter, we eat the energy too. If you’re trying to raise your vibration, support yourself by eating high vibrational foods that come from the earth and don’t feel pain.
As an empath and someone who has gone through various spiritual awakenings, I could never imagine diluting my alignment by constantly consuming fear and anguish. It’s something I will personally never understand within the spiritual community. How can you spread love and light when you consume fear and darkness? To each their own, but reflect and reassess.
The Best Decision
I’ve never slept better now that my conscience is clean. I don’t feel guilty anymore about the food I eat and I personally always felt a gut wrenching sense of remorse knowing I was responsible for creating more fear in the world and lowering the collective energy. It feels so good to be on the other side and feel awake. I can see clearly and once you do, it’s hard to go back and see the things the way most do. If I could give the best piece of advice for anyone, it would be to do this. Change your habits and take back your power. Eating is passive, but you can take aligned action and really truly make a difference. If this motivated you to make a change, reach out to me. I am always happy to help others live a more ethical and heart-led life.
This piece was written and contributed by:
Intuitive Reiki Master and Coach
Emily Volovitz is a reiki master, intuitive guide, life mentor, and energy worker. Having gone through body image issues, and family/childhood trauma, she found that there wasn’t a unique space to hone it all in. She created a space where individuals can connect with every part of themselves.
She was born and raised in Miami, FL with a Colombian background. At 18, she moved to London and later to Amsterdam where she currently resides.
Emily's mission is to help individuals get closer to who they truly are, combining all the various methods that have helped her find her own alignment, in order to assist and propel the collective into a space of greater love and light. Tough life experiences disconnect human beings from their natural state of being, one that is aligned and vivacious. She believes that it is not a matter of healing, but a matter of getting closer to our essence.