Here is another great story showing that vegans are not cloned in a laboratory and trained in militant PETA camps. It is really quite the opposite. The variety of different Veganaut Tales we’ve heard so far paints a picture of diversity. We came from countless backgrounds to get to this healthy, compassionate, and sustainable life and I am excited to be here with all of you good people.
Jennifer’s story interested me because you can tell where her heart was from the beginning. Even as a child she had an inkling that the rest of the world was eating and living differently than she wanted to be. However, walking the path your heart wants you to take can be a real challenge, especially when the vast majority of the people and institutions you encounter seem to be blocking the path.
I’ll let Jennifer J. share her story, but not before thanking her profusely for sending it in to share with the community. Take it away Jennifer:
When I was a teenager, I became a steadfast vegetarian. I still ate dairy and eggs; after all, I was living in Wisconsin and had grown up visiting my grandparents’ small dairy farm. After college, while I was working at a Whole Foods Market, I decided to become vegan. I then began work as a labor organizer. I was a junk food vegetarian turned junk food vegan, with a challenging job that required travel and irregular hours, an unsupportive fiance and few everyday cooking or meal planning skills, so my attempt lasted barely a year. I returned to eating poultry and meat.
In 2007, I moved to Northwest Arkansas, the land of Walmart and a major poultry-producing region. I ate more meat and processed foods, including things I had never eaten previously. I met my husband, we got married, and he began nursing school. I worked as a court reporter and heard the testimony of farmers fighting corporations and insurance companies, workers injured at poultry farms and factories, and people with devastating illnesses like diabetes. The chicken trucks I drove behind haunted my dreams. I ate Walmart meat, cheese and processed foods even as they disgusted me.
I was sluggish and depressed. My skin and hair suffered and I gained weight. My joints ached, my blood sugar was erratic, I had sinus problems and allergies caused in part by airborne chicken dung, and I exhibited symptoms in line with hormonal imbalances, yet my doctors insisted I was fine. I felt isolated. I knew I was abandoning my ideals and neglecting my health. For several years I contemplated returning to veganism, but somehow a plant-based lifestyle never seemed attainable and so I maintained the status quo. I was stressed out and on a budget; I couldn’t buy expensive ingredients, wrap my mind around time-consuming preparations, or listen to someone shame me for my choices.
In 2011, two important things happened. First, I found myself nursing my beloved 14-year-old pet budgie who was suffering from gout. It became painfully clear that I was dishonoring both of us by devotedly caring for her and continuing to eat poultry. I became vegetarian again and reduced my dairy consumption. Second, a friend happened to send me a copy of Everyday Happy Herbivore as an early Christmas present. Somehow that particular book resonated with me and I immediately transitioned to a plant-based diet.
In 2013, I have more energy, my previous health issues are a distant memory, and I love to cook and plan meals. I’ve found so many wonderful, supportive resources; I know I am not alone. I’m still on a budget, but going plant-based has actually saved me both money and time. My husband is still an omnivore, but he publicly supports me and eats my cooking. I still dislike many things about where I live (so many chicken trucks!), but becoming plant-based profoundly changed how I participate in and view my community. I still stumble occasionally, I’m still constantly adjusting, and I may never be a perfect “vegan,” yet so many positive changes in my life have come from choosing to be eat plants. This lifestyle now signifies simplicity and joy to me. Occasionally in hindsight I am embarrassed by how how long I waited to become a Veganaut; more than anything, I’m just grateful that I did it.
So are we Jennifer! It’s never too late to start or restart this rewarding life. Looking back at our old lives might be a little awkward but it sure is easier to do when you are walking the path your heart asks you to walk. Thanks again for telling us your Veganaut Tale!
If you’d like to share the journey you took to becoming a vegan, plant-based dieter, eco-vegan, and/or veganaut, please email your story to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no length requirement but the 400-800 range is a good ballpark range. Ahoy!