A Vegan Path to Self-Awareness and Optimal Health

I wasn’t always a vegan. For the first 25 years of my life I grew up devouring meat and cheese while wearing thick straps of leather and giving shady glances to animal rights activists.

I really didn’t know anything about what it meant to live without eating meat and I didn’t care. I knew my life could be improved if I ate healthier or exercised more consistently, but I never would have dreamed that going vegan would solve so many problems I never knew I had.

Food Inc. Leads to Earthlings

I was first exposed to animal cruelty when I watched the now famous documentary, Food Inc. The movie piqued my interest and I dove deeper. I began to learn more about what it meant to read food labels, research where your food comes from, and find out more about natural sources of nutrition.

I eventually stumbled upon Earthlings, a documentary that made me cry – literally. I’m not usually the kind of guy to cry while watching anything, but this movie moved me to tears and turned me into an evangelical vegan overnight.

Knowledge Turns into Action

With my new knowledge of how animals are really treated, I set off to figure out if I could actually be healthy as a vegan. My research revealed that I could not only be healthy, but that I would thrive on a plant-based diet.

The experiments began. I tried green smoothies, tofurky, enormous salads filled with vegetables I couldn’t even pronounce, and all kinds of herbs, spices, and supplements that were designed to heal my body inside and out.

Actions Turn into Habits

Within six months of watching Earthlings I owned a blender, a high-powered juicer, and a refrigerator filled with nature’s best foods. I was 40 pounds lighter, training for my 2nd marathon, and telling everyone I could about how amazing it felt to free myself of a lifestyle that had literally been killing me.

It wasn’t easy to form the new habits. I had to relearn how to eat, where to shop, and what to order at restaurants. Over time my health improved even more and I ran another dozen endurance races.

Habits Turn into Identities

Going vegan is not what you think. I say that because the experience and the daily life of a vegan are far different than what it looks like from the outside. I never would have predicted I would be where I am today with my diet, health, or athletic pursuits. My pre-judgments of vegetarians and health nuts were misplaced and I now know that extreme self-awareness and optimal health are only the tip of the iceberg.

Living as a vegan means my choices affect other people, animals, the environment, and my own health. That knowledge packs quite a punch and only strengthens my resolve to learn more and continue to push myself beyond my own preconceived limits.

I challenge you to do the same.

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