How I Became Vegan
I was not always vegan.
In fact, for most of my life I wasn’t able to imagine myself being vegan, partly because the notion of veganism was not in my vocabulary. None of my friends or family had ever been vegan or vegetarian, though at some point in my life I learned about vegetarians—those extremist activist alarmist ascetics.
But for me to give up my meat or milk was unthinkable!
Until I realized that I owe it to God. And to the people who may someday depend on my being healthy enough to support them.
And I began to understand that someday I may become like those old grandpas who walk with a cane (if they walk at all), wear dentures, and forget things (oh God I’d kill myself if I had Alzheimer’s, I thought).
But in the summer of 2014, within a span of a few weeks, I began to deeply reflect upon my health and future. It dawned on me that, although for the previous couple years I’d been committing myself to growing intellectually and socially, my health had only worsened as I had no time for proper eating or exercise.
So I began to cut fat out of my diet. I became increasingly turned off by the traditional Russian cooking in my family, in part because many of our foods were inherently oily. Scrambled eggs didn’t seem so tasty anymore, and холодец wasn’t as appealing as it had been.
Then a friend mentioned to me that he might try out a vegetarian diet for a short time (a week, I think) because he wanted to get healthier. I remember standing outside the front of my church when he said this. I responded with something like, “Dude I’d never be able to do that. I love my meat.”
I may have even said that I can’t live without cheese. (For many years I’d tell people that if I was stuck for my entire life being able to eat only one type of food, it would be cheese.)
Nor did I think I’d have the will power and discipline to be vegetarian.
A couple days later, I stumbled upon a video by a doctor named Neal Barnard. The video caught my eye only because its title suggested that I’ll learn about easy ways to improve my brain skills. For a while now I’ve been interested in finding tricks that’ll give me an edge in thinking ability, and at that time I especially felt like I was competing with a ton of people just like me who wanted to be successful someday doing philosophy. And I understood that, since I wouldn’t be able to make a living by working with my hands, I’d have to get a job where I work with my head. So my brain was my most valuable asset.
Barnard’s lecture in the video was fascinating. I remember shifting uncomfortably in my seat throughout the video. I did not like what I was hearing. But I kept watching because I wanted to be rational. This was at a time in my life when I was getting deeply into philosophy and trying to figure out how I can find the most perfect worldview. I’d been realizing that I may be wrong on a lot of things and need to review my beliefs objectively, with no presuppositions. I was ready to hear the other side on any question worth my time.
Then I read a few articles and watched more lectures and read some more.
I decided I’d try out a vegetarian diet, at least for a little. I would still eat dairy products and fish.
But I almost promised myself that I would never become vegan. I couldn’t let myself do that to myself. That’s too extreme, I thought, it’s probably dangerous. At least I’ll be getting calcium from the milk, I reassured myself.
Most new things in life seem dangerous. Don’t blame me: I was being careful.
I made that leap of faith, knowing almost nothing about what kinds of foods I’d be eating. For a few days, I was strictly vegetarian. It was a little hard at first because I ate mostly fruits, but I quickly learned about the many delicious and filling things I could be eating.
I don’t know how I became interested in the nutritional science behind dairy, but I remember that it was a video lecture that first got me to suspect that dairy products aren’t as innocuous (and not as fantastically healthful) as I’d been taught. So I began to cut dairy from my diet.
I read Foods That Fight Pain by Neal Barnard and again was taken aback by the power of nutrition in common health problems. The many rigorous experiments Barnard documents in the book overpowered my resistance to his claims.
Then I read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, a world-renowned and accomplished nutritional biochemist. After reading the book, I decided to never eat meat again. The scientific evidence was overwhelming.
Since then, I’ve never looked back at my former lifestyle. Many people ask me if I miss meat. The answer is always simple.
That’s the truth, and I love my life this way.
I’ll soon be writing a post on some of the best books I’ve read and best videos I’ve watched about nutrition. On this blog, I’ll also be reviewing books, blogs, and other things and sharing some of my experiences as a Christian vegan.
For now, please comment below if you’ve ever tried a vegan or vegetarian diet and how it went. What was your biggest struggle?