I was already on a trajectory to go vegan for ethics, for animals initially, and then also for the environment, but I buried the real reason for wanting to go vegan because it’s painful. I had plenty of good reasons to go vegan for a long time, but life decided for me in this instance. I think I used veganism to subconsciously to try to fill a hole my life, because of tragedy and trauma.
I recently had some discussions with people on twitter. They were vegans who believed that the only reason to go vegan is for the animals. Obviously, you can also become a vegan because of the environment, or for your health. So long as the end result is they abstain from consuming animals products. All roads to Valhalla.
The inception for me wanting to go vegan was not contributing to animals suffering. I don’t exactly remember what the spark was that ignited the thought, but it was animal rights, in conjunction with what I knew about the environment that inspired it. I had learned too much to compartmentalize. I guess I was originally inspired to go vegan for the animals.
Another part of my reasoning for wanting to go vegan was vanity. I wanted to be in better shape and health. I had done some research about the lifestyle and knew there were health benefits and being athletic was possible too.
There was something romantic in the idea of being able to say I was a vegan athlete, even though at the time I had not actually built any impressive amount of muscle. Nor had I done a legit 5k in years. I still enjoyed the fantasy of people asking me what my secret was in being in such great shape. I would say coolly, “I’m vegan.”
I was an idiot, sleepwalking through life. I never acted on any of it. I was dragging my feet, going very slowly in transitioning away from meat in general. In 2011, I went pescetarian, and from there I went through the various dietary restrictions of each individual type, pescetarian to ovo-lacto atarian to vegetarian, all the way to vegan, and now wholefoods plant-based. In my timeline, it wasn’t until 2014 that I went fully vegan though.
My best friend died. She was my former life partner and lover of ten years. We had always been close since we first met. She referred to me as her husband, and for a time I called her my wife, but in retrospect that doesn’t feel quite right. We were never legally married, just partnered for the better part of a decade.
At around the time she died I was constantly drunk, acting out in violence, probably experiencing psychosis from extended drug and alcohol use, and having public nervous breakdowns in bars while on benders and on Facebook feeds ranting. I got arrested on the highway driving very drunk and high, got arrested storming a Checker’s drive thru window after a bender, and I was Baker acted while out bar hopping on multiple heavy drugs one night. I was in jail, mental institutions, on probation, in court rooms over and over.
During that storm of chaos, she died. That day I became a vegan. I don’t know if I decided it outright in a declaration per se. I know at the time going vegan wasn’t practical considering that my life was falling apart, but that’s how it happened none-the-less. It was easily the worst transition to veganism you can ever imagine. I was a wreck and wanted to die.
Upon instantly deciding I was vegan, I really had no idea what to do. It was pretty anticlimactic. I ended up homeless and was hungry, so I ate meat. I cheated constantly because of this, I guess I was flexitarian. I didn’t really have much of a choice. I can’t say I feel sorry about it. There’s was so much chaos around me. I consider myself lucky to be alive. I was very drunk and angry, looking for heavy drugs all the time, and in a bad state of mind.
I’m not sure how to categorize my reasons for going vegan in retrospect, but I think I decided that I could no longer take life for granted because a former partner died. People deal with trauma in different ways. Before she died, I wasn’t fully an omnivore, but after she died, I was definitely a vegan.
For the next few years I rode a downward spiral to homelessness, addiction, and despair. I’ve built myself back up to the point I’m at now. I’m very lucky and grateful. Veganism, and trying to live a holistically ethical life, is very important to me. Both are a huge part of my life.
If I could have it another way, trust me when I say I would, but that’s how it happened.