Why on earth vegan?!

Most people are intrigued by my dietary choice – even more so because I do Crossfit. So I am taking this opportunity to elaborate on my reasons behind it – I am pretty sure that my story is similar to the story of many other vegans.

I was lucky, I grew up with several non-human siblings in Switzerland. I learned to love and care for them at an early stage. Strangely enough, though, it took me a long time to understand why my love for them didn’t go hand in hand with eating them. Finally, at the age of 19 I became vegetarian, mainly thanks to a book by the philosopher and animal-rights activist Helmut F. Kaplan. For a long time I stuck to my diet, didn’t make any fuss about it and was grateful for the many lives I saved.

Ten years later, however, I realised that if I truly cared for animals, vegetarianism could only be an interim stage. As a vegetarian I was still causing a tremendous amount of harm to other beings and the planet. So the ultimate goal had to be veganism.

The past year or so I have slowly been working towards an animal-cruelty free life and beginning of this month I was finally ready to make the switch.

Why so much preparation time? I live on a small tropical island in Thailand. If I didn’t want to drive myself absolutely crazy, this slow transition was absolutely necessary. I grew up in the land of cheese and chocolate and while temptation for those two is not huge in this heat, I do love an occasional pizza or some sweet treat every now and again. So I was facing the challenge of giving up lifelong habits (…sniff…) or finding substitutes (sounds like so much work!). Neither happens over night on Koh Tao. That switch also meant that I had to spend more time in my (very basic) kitchen (using my very basic culinary skills) than I honestly wished for (if I told you I loved cooking, I would be lying). And that’s how a few months went by… No matter where in this world, adopting a vegan diet is a big change and will require some transition time in many cases if you want to get it right.

Many can understand vegetarians but why anyone would become vegan, leaves most a bit puzzled. I get that, I didn’t understand either for a long time. But once I started the research, I became more and more aware of the cruelty of the meat, fish and dairy industry. Eventually I – personally – had no other choice. I decided that the wellbeing of all animals was going to be my top priority and this was going to dictate all my actions. I believe we owe it to Mother Earth to be the best residents we could possibly be as a thank you for the gift of life and the beautiful home she is providing us with. Veganism is an important, most basic yet high-impact step into that direction. It is a lifestyle and the diet is only one aspect of it.

It is save to say that most vegans have a great knowledge about nutrition, about food and its origins. This results in a whole different view not only on food but health and life in general.  Animals are living beings with the desire and right to be happy and free, sharing this planet, our one and only home, with us humans. They are not products or things and they are not meant to be eaten or used by us in any form. All our lives we are taught just that, however. My hope is that this kind of thinking can gradually be reversed and make the world a better place – human by human.

I believe it is important to see the reasons behind a vegan lifestyle and many people will actually realise that they would not disagree with most of them. How many of us want to deliberately cause harm to any living being or the planet? How many of us try to minimise pain and suffering and speak up for the innocent one way or another? In the end, I guess, vegans go a few steps further and make the elimination of suffering a priority in their lives.

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