Vegan Lifestyle: So Much More Than Just a Diet
Articles Reflecting a Vegan Lifestyle From All-Creatures.org

Vegan lifestyle articles that discuss ways of living in peace with humans, animals, and the environment.

FROM

SentientMedia.org
November 2018

Just as the vegan lifestyle is about intent, itís also about mindfulness. Before buying something at the store, a vegan considers whether or not it has had a deleterious impact on animals in any way.

happy goat
Image via WeAnimals.org

What is a vegan lifestyle? When we talk about veganism, many people hear the word ďdietĒ as part of the overall conversation. After all, one of the most well-known aspects of the vegan lifestyle involves not eating meat or animal by-products.

However, by centering diet at the soul of the conversation, we might be doing a disservice to vegans. Thereís far more to the veganism ethos than simply controlling what one puts in his or her mouth, and ignoring those facets of the vegan lifestyle denies its power.

If youíre thinking about going vegan or if you already consider yourself a vegan, itís important to understand why you make specific choices as a consumer and human and why you choose to avoid things that other people consider commonplace.

No, you donít have to become an academic scholar, nor do you need to tell everyone you meet about your vegan lifestyle. However, part of those movement involves living your values. Instead of just expressing them, you demonstrate them through what you do and choose not to do.

Letís take a deeper look at the vegan lifestyle and what it truly means to those who practice it.

What Is a Vegan?

Gene Baur and Cow
Image via WeAnimals.org

The Vegan Society defines the vegan lifestyle as ďa way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.Ē Thatís pretty comprehensive.

Vegans lead with intent. They do their best to create a world, however small, in which no animals are harmed in service to humans.

And it goes far beyond diet.

Vegans have been behind many of the protests that lobbied against circus acts and other entertainment venues that force animals to perform for human entertainment. A circus has nothing to do with diet ó unless you count popcorn and cotton candy ó but everything to do with animal welfare.

Animals forced to perform for human entertainment often show no signs of enjoying the work or wanting to perform. Consequently, the trainers have to use pain to evoke the desired response from the animal.

The vegan lifestyle involves actively avoiding any practice that damages animal welfare or subjugates animals for our benefit as humans.

What is a Vegan Lifestyle?

A vegan lifestyle is a crede and a way of life that denounces the idea that other animals exist for our use. We were all put here for our own purposes, and animals other than humans contribute just as much as we do to our ecosystem.

Vegans believe that we can live side-by-side with animals rather than as ďapex predators.Ē Instead of exerting dominion over animals, we can help them live their lives as naturally as possible.

The vegan lifestyle does involve diet. Vegans donít eat meat, eggs, dairy, or any other animal by-product, including the honey that bees produce. However, itís much more than that.

We know that animals are used to create many consumer products, from soaps and cosmetics to clothing. Vegans wear synthetic fabrics, for instance, instead of wool made from sheep, llamas, alpacas, and other animals.

Itís true that these animals arenít killed for their fur. However, theyíre terrorized during the shearing process, which they donít understand, and left without their natural protection from the elements.

Just as the vegan lifestyle is about intent, itís also about mindfulness. Before buying something at the store, a vegan considers whether or not it has had a deleterious impact on animals in any way.

Vegan Numbers Are Growing Rapidly

According to 2017 statistics, the incorporation of vegan foods into meals across all American households has risen by 40 percent. Furthermore, nearly half of all Americans support banning slaughterhouses, and in some countries, vegan populations have increased by as much as 600 percent.

The data is clear: More people are going vegan every day. This evolution creates significant demand for consumer products that fit the vegan lifestyle.

Businesses, including factory farming operations and slaughterhouses, operate on supply and demand. If nobody wants to eat meat or animal by-products, those businesses would shutter their doors because they couldnít justify continued operations based on demand.

Part of the vegan lifestyle means refusing to put dollars into the hands of people who would hurt animals in any way. As more people join the vegan lifestyle, vegansí voices become louder and more difficult to ignore.

There So Much More To The Vegan Lifestyle Than Just the Healthy Food

Nobody can deny that vegan food is delicious. Itís whole, plant-based, and diverse, which means you canít possibly get bored if youíre open to all the foods available to you.

However, the vegan lifestyle doesnít revolve around food alone. As mentioned above, itís an ethos or crede that leads people to live their values. Vegans know what they believe, and what they hold sacred, and they do their best to ensure that their behaviors mimic their hearts.

Itís important to understand the vegan lifestyle because itís easy to say that you love animals and support their rights but to chomp down on an all-beef burger for dinner. Itís similar to an environmental activist driving a gas-guzzling car and drinking water from disposable plastic bottles.

When other people see that youíre living a vegan lifestyle, they might become curious. Most people donít enjoy hearing lectures, but they emulate behaviors they admire and respect. Thatís the key to turning your vegan lifestyle into a statement that spreads to those around you.

Letís look at some of the most important beliefs behind the vegan lifestyle.

Displaying Personal Conviction Through Action

When it comes to living your beliefs, there are three stages:

  • Belief: What do you believe and what do you value? Are you concerned about animal rights? Do you believe that animals shouldnít be forced into human servitude? If so, those are concrete beliefs.
  • Intent: The next stage involves what you want to do about your beliefs. Do you want to create a happier, healthier world for all animals? Thatís your intent.
  • Action: While intent is important, action matters more. What will you do with your intent? Will you adopt the vegan lifestyle?

When people talk about their beliefs and ideologies but act in direct opposition to them, others donít take those people seriously. Thereís a dissonance between belief and action, and intent is often the missing link.

When youíve defined a belief for yourself, such as that all animals should be treated humanely, you then need to think about how that belief will manifest. What changes do you want to make? How do you want other people to treat animals?

From intent follows action. Once you create an intention, the next logical step is to act out that intention through your habits as a consumer and a human being.

The vegan lifestyle isnít just about what you put in your mouth at mealtimes. Itís about how you show other people your beliefs.

Acting on Your Love For the Animals

happy goat
Image via WeAnimals.org

Very few people will say they ďhateĒ animals or want them to suffer. Nevertheless, omnivores outnumber herbivores by a significant margin.

Thereís a cognitive dissonance between cuddling your cat right before digging into a steak or enjoying a bucket of fried chicken. Just because a chicken or a cow doesnít look like your family pet doesnít mean those animals donít experience the same emotions and instincts.

All animals want to live. They desire to thrive with other animals of their own kind, form emotional bonds, care for their young, and protect each other from predators. By consuming animals and otherwise using them for our own benefit, we deny them those basic rights.

If you live a vegan lifestyle, however, you make a statement with every product you buy, article of clothing you wear, and piece of food you eat. Instead of just saying how much you love animals and wish the best for them, youíre contributing to their cause.

Reducing the Environmental Impact of the Animal Industry

farmed pig
Image via WeAnimals.org

Many of the industries against which vegans fight contribute to pollution, deforestation, reduced habitats for animals, and other things that impact animalsí lives. For instance, animal testing has become a huge strain on our resources, requiring huge labs in which to house and feed animals.

The same goes for dairy farms. These operations consume insane amounts of fossil fuels, contribute to contaminated soil, and introduce large amounts of ammonia into the environment. None of these things is healthy for humans or other animals.

The vegan lifestyle is directly tied to environmentalism. We want to preserve the earth for all creatures, including our own descendants. By selfishly farming the animals and resources without thought to the future, we contribute to a world far less hospitable than the one we enjoy now.

If you believe that we should reduce our carbon footprints and protect animals, the vegan lifestyle is the perfect way to live your beliefs and show that veganism is more than just a diet.

Embracing the Belief of ďDoing No HarmĒ

We donít have to hurt others to survive. Human beings have proved that through centuries of living on this earth; the fact that we still exist despite the innumerable ways in which we could destroy each other is proof positive of our destiny to live peaceably.

This doesnít mean, however, that we should just do no harm to our fellow humans. We also have to realize that harming animals and the environment leaves just as obvious a stain.

Despite political and social divisiveness, weíre still a social species. Humanity has only survived because of our ability to care for one another, whether that means staying awake at night to make sure a predator doesnít ravage our village or shouting a warning to a stranger whoís about to step in front of a moving car.

Weíre also wired to bond with other animals. We domesticated dogs before any other creature, and for centuries, weíve worked alongside canines in mutually beneficial relationships. Dogs enjoy working with humans, just as horses and many cats do because we care for each other.

The problem, though, is that many people pick and choose. If you embrace the belief that you should do no harm to another sentient creature, itís impossible to separate dogs and cats from cows and chickens and fish.

Holding All Lives as Sacred

circus dogs
Image via WeAnimals.org

One of the purest ways to embrace the vegan lifestyle is to ask yourself one question: Are you willing to slaughter an animal yourself to feed your family when other alternatives exist?

If not, youíre a good candidate for the vegan lifestyle. You donít want to slit a cowís throat, boil a chicken alive, or gut a fish from head to tail. Consequently, youíve separated the animal from the food in the supermarket.

A chicken breast doesnít look like a chicken, so weíve allowed ourselves to compartmentalize. Once you take a more holistic view of the world and realize that all lives are sacred, however, eating meat and animal by-products become repulsive.

Ancient cultures hunted animals because they often had no other choices. They lived in areas where crops couldnít grow, for instance, so they had no other food sources.

Those peoples often prayed over the animals they killed ó even revered them ó and vowed to use their bodies in as many ways as possible to honor their unwilling sacrifice. Those people viewed all lives as sacred but were forced to kill to survive.

Anyone who has the ability to read this article doesnít live in such circumstances. Other food choices exist, so honoring animals means not exploiting them for no reason.

Conclusion

The vegan lifestyle isnít about a diet. Itís about a way of life. If you believe that all animals deserve to live their lives free of duty or obligation to humans, youíre on the right path.


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