Yesterday was Kukur Tihar in Nepal. It is a day during the festival of lights where dogs all around the country are worshiped and celebrated for their cherished companionship with us humans. While I was looking through the #kukurtihar hashtag on Instagram admiring dogs adorned in paint and marigold flower crowns, I was reminded of why I went Vegan, about 9 months ago.
As I’ve mentioned before, there wasn’t one reason I went Vegan, but rather a handful of moments that made me reflect on meat consumption in general. One moment happened to be when I saw a petition circulating which opposed the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, held annually in the city of Yulin, China. I wondered how many of these (predominantly Western) people signing this petition eat meat? How many of these people consume meat that came from a factory farm? How many of these people eat pigs and yet cannot see the similarities between pigs and dogs? Then I asked myself the same questions.
The truth is, I wasn’t really that aware of the similarities. I grew up downtown not surrounded by animals and nature. Meat came in a package. I wasn’t aware that 70 billion land animals are killed annually to feed 7 billion humans. That is not counting aquatic animals. I didn’t stop and think about just how unsustainable and heartbreaking that is. I didn’t stop and research the similarities between pigs and dogs, but once I did I realized I could never eat pigs again. I discovered that when cows are forcibly separated from their calves they scream and cry for days. I visited farms and looked animals in their eyes. I watched Cowspiracy, footage of terrified animals on their way to slaughter, and started following the @torontopigsave Instagram page. I felt I needed to watch them. I needed to cry. I needed to donate to animal sanctuaries in an effort to attone.
For the first several months I felt incredible. Not only did I feel lighter, healthier and experience more energy overall, I also felt my mood lift dramatically. However, by the 7 month point, I noticed that I was beginning to lose energy and vitality. In order to be optimally healthy while vegan, it is important to be on track with supplements and your personal dietary requirements. I have never been great at staying on top of taking supplements. I felt no desire to eat meat, and yet I felt that I needed to do something different.
I looked to my nutritional mentors, Chris Kresser and Dr. Mark Hyman. I love Chris Kresser because he’s informed, rational and fair. He’s also an ex-vegan surfer who has the upmost respect for animals and the environment. For anyone that is Vegan but isn’t experiencing optimal health, I strongly encourage you to check him out, including his podcast with Joe Rogan (link below). As Chris explains in this particular podcast, if you are considering adapting your Vegan diet to a Vegan-ish (as I have done) consider adding in protein & fats that have the highest nutrient density and sustainability, with the lowest amount of cruelty. The best example of this would be to consume things like clams, mussels or oysters. All of which have no pain receptors and are packed with nutrients like zinc, iron and B12.
I am now about 90% vegan. I have added in mussels & oysters on occasion, as well as good-quality, ethically raised, free range grass fed butter and chicken which comes from a local farm. I realize I am fortunate to have access to such a farm.
I learned so much about myself by taking the time to be an active participant in my food choices. I realize that choices like this are a privilege that not everyone can enjoy. If you are lucky enough to be in this position as well, I encourage you to begin eating from a conscious perspective, with gratitude and respect for every farmer and animal that contributed to your meal.
Chris Kresser & Joe Rogan: or watch on YouTube: