Thursday, February 6, 2014

New Year's Vegan Resolution


I know many people made a New Year’s Resolution to go vegan.  And I also know that, around this time of year, many resolutions are broken.  So, I wanted to write to those of you who may be struggling, and offer up two pieces of advice…

I believe very strongly that, to make any big change, you must have a very strong motivation.  So, if you’ve always wanted to be thinner, for example, and figured you’d make a New Year’s resolution to go vegan because you think that would do the trick, it’s simply not going to work.  How do I know?  Because if you wanted that goal badly enough, you would have figured out how to achieve it long before now.  There are plenty of ways to get thin, and the truth is, if you wanted it badly enough, you would already be thin.

So, my first piece of advice is to make sure you have a strong enough motivation.  I have met countless people who went vegan the day they read John Robbins’ book Diet for a New America.  I was one of them.  So, perhaps you want to pick that book up at the bookstore.  If you haven’t had a problem giving up meat, but struggle with dairy or eggs, my latest book, Vegetarian to Vegan, was written specifically for those who struggle with dairy and eggs.  If you really care about the environment, read the World Health Organization’s article, Livestock’s Long Shadow.  Whether you are motivated by health, animal welfare or the environment, there are extremely compelling books, articles and videos that will stun you into going vegan… with very little willpower.

My second piece of advice is to be kind to yourself.  It can be very demoralizing when you make a commitment and then break it – especially if you’ve made the commitment many times and broken it many times.  If you are being hard on yourself, I’d like you to remember all the calories you have forgone, all the animals you have saved, and all the benefit you have done for the environment by not eating meat and dairy for all the meals where you were, indeed, successful at keeping your commitment.  Every time you don’t eat meat, dairy or eggs you are benefiting yourself, animals and the environment.  So if you are 50%, 70% or 90% of the way there, it may not be quite the 100% you vowed, but you’re still on your way and making great progress and a great difference along the way.

I commend everyone for making the decision to go vegan, and hope that if you are struggling as you make this change, that you’ll seek out further motivation and be kind to yourself along the way.  I believe in you, and I know you can reach your goals!

Warmly,
Sarah

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Thanks


I don’t feel like writing about the vegan diet for my last post of the year.  What I feel like writing about is gratitude.  I want to let you, my readers, know that I am deeply grateful for your interest in the vegan diet, and for reading my blog.  I appreciate the occasional e-mails and replies to my posts that I receive when something I’ve said has helped you.  I appreciate the transformation so many people are having in this country and in this world.  For 2014, I hope that we will all continue to strengthen in aligning ourselves with our truth, and keep moving forward on this journey with the vegan diet.  Mele Kalikimaka!

With Peace,
Sarah

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Grass-Fed, Humanely Slaughtered Meat


It seems to me that Americans are waking up at a faster and faster rate.  The idea that the vegan diet is just for Berkeley hippies is a very old idea indeed; as you’ve probably heard, even Al Gore has finally gone vegan.  More and more people from all walks of life understand the issues behind veganism, and more and more people are beginning to care.

I particularly respect the people who are willing to go way out of their way to not only get “grass-fed, humanely slaughtered” meat, but actually seek out a local supplier so that they can verify that the animals are living a happy life on a grassy pasture, rather than just trusting the sticker on the cellophane wrap in their trendy grocery store up the street.  To me, these people are caring enough to really go the extra mile to make sure they are spending their money the way they want, rather than just trusting the stickers on the cellophane wrap so they can feel good about their choices.  They care enough to do what they think is right.

Over the past couple of years, an increasing number of people have told me that, while they are not vegan, they are very serious about finding a local supplier of beef or other meat that they can verify comes from happy and healthy conditions.  I think this is such a huge, huge step in the right direction … almost every vegan knows that the animals in factory farms don’t just die an horrific death in the slaughterhouses, they live horrific lives of brutality, neglect and disease in the factory farms for years leading up to their slaughter.  It’s absolutely unconscionable.

But I think what people may be forgetting to consider when they seek out these more humane suppliers of meat is what, exactly, constitutes “humane slaughtering?”  My friend Carlos told me that an acquaintance mentioned that he only buys “humanely slaughtered” meat.  Carlos respectfully asked him, “How does one humanely slaughter meat?  Is it possible to humanely take life?  If I wanted to humanely slaughter you, for example, what would that look like?”

Carlos’ questions are very thought-provoking, and I expect many people who buy this meat haven’t thought about these questions.  Even if you can put an animal “to sleep” in such a way that it never feels pain or fear, is it “humane” to rob the animal of it’s life?  In fact – is it humane to rob an animal of its life just so that we can have steak or turkey for dinner, when we have so many other options for dinner that don’t involve taking a life

Think about what we do to preserve our own lives … how hard we would fight for our lives or the lives of our loved ones … how we might risk our own life to save another’s life.  Whether we consciously think about it or not, we cherish our life and revere life above all (or almost all) else. 

So perhaps it’s time to consciously think about it.  If we cherish our own lives, isn’t it fair to assume cows, pigs and chickens and all animals cherish their lives too?  If we cherish not only human life, but also our pets’ lives, why wouldn’t we cherish all life?

While I understand the desire to eat meat, maintain traditions that involve meat, and fit in with society by eating meat, is it really worth taking life to do so?  The question at hand is not whether to inhumanely or humanely slaughter meat … the question is whether it’s humane to take life or not.

With Peace,
Sarah

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Vegan Thanks


This time of year, we all focus on the things we are grateful for.  I am so eternally grateful that I found the vegan diet.  I am grateful that my diet allows me to inspire other people, and that with every person I inspire to eat one less meal with animal products in it, lives are saved.  I am grateful that my diet has pointed me toward the importance of compassion, which has led me down a very happy spiritual path that I didn’t even know I was looking for.  I am grateful that my diet has re-focused my priorities in life – I don’t care about the scale or my new wrinkles much, and am instead concerned with what I can do next to make a difference.  I am grateful for all of the amazing people I have met through this lifestyle.  I am, more than ever, grateful for life – thanks to the vegan diet.  I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and have much to be grateful for.

With Peace,
Sarah

Thursday, November 14, 2013

When Others Just Don't Get It


I gave a speech at a conference once that was mainly composed of vegetarians and vegans.  A woman approached me afterward; she was very obese, with stringy hair and bad skin, with a serious scowl on her face.  She said, “Sarah, I really loved your speech.  Thank you so much for coming.  I have a question for you:  I’ve been vegan for 3 years now, but when I try to tell people that they had better change to a vegan diet because they’re going to kill themselves eating all that fast food and crap that they eat, and that they are contributing to the deaths of innocent little animals and the destruction of our planet, I can’t get anyone to listen!  They don’t listen to me!  I practically scream at my parents and siblings about it every year over the holidays, yet they continue to stuff themselves with turkey and pumpkin pie!  How do I get them to listen to me???”

I really felt for her.  I think at some primal level, many vegans just want to scream at the world to wake up and see what we see, to learn what we’ve learned.  But I encourage you:  Stop, and remember when you used to eat turkey and pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving; when you didn’t know about the horrors of the slaughterhouses (and I mean really know – not just heard fourth-hand from someone, but read or watched about it yourself.)  Remember a time, even, when you did know about something but didn’t open your mind to really take it in. So it is with everyone’s journey.  People won’t hear you give a few sordid statistics at the dinner table and decide to go vegan right then and there.  However, if you approach them right, you might just open their minds at your first encounter with them over veganism … you might just set a great example at your first encounter … and that could be the beginning of someone else’s life changing as dramatically as yours has.  So here are a few tips for being a vegan…

  • Don’t get angry
  • Be understanding (you were probably once where they are now.)
  • Have patience (most people won’t believe you’re going to stick with it.  It may take years for people to believe that you are serious and actually start listening to you.)
  • Set a good example (you may want to wait on touting the health benefits until others can actually see an impressive difference in your health.)
  • Let people come to you
  • Cook for others (when you’ve figured out some really great vegan recipes, start inviting people over in small groups of about 6-8 – so that if someone asks about your diet, the whole table might actually hear what you have to say.)

Finally, remember to always keep this in perspective:  If no one ever listens, if no one ever cares … wake up each and every morning with the beautiful knowledge that today you will save another animal.  That today you will be healthier.  That today you will do your part to save our planet.  At the end of the day, you can encourage and inspire and educate others until you exhaust yourself, but you can only control what you put in your mouth.  Let your food choices be a poem of compassion for all who witness.