What Happened When I Went Vegan

On December 2, 2015, I weighed 232 pounds… about 53 pounds overweight.

My “bad cholesterol” levels were too high.

Lab tests indicated I was heading towards diabetes and heart disease.

When I looked in the mirror, and saw the bloated, fat person staring back at me, I felt despair and self-loathing.

I wanted to die, and in fact, due to eating animal-derived food, I was dying.

The weird thing is, I’ve been an athlete most of my life.

I exercised daily, and yet I’d gained weight.

I tried all kinds of diets and eating fads: Paleo. Vegetarian. Pescatarian. Low fat.

You name it, I’d tried it.

But I still consumed dairy products.

I loved pizza, ice cream, gelato, brownies.

If there was a special occasion or social occasion, I sometimes ate meat.

I ate like almost all Americans eat, and it hurt me.

My exercise wasn’t exciting and fun like it used to be.

I was lethargic. I never felt that coveted “runner’s high” I used to feel.

I was trying hard not to be fat, but I was fat.

I was desperate to lose weight and have more energy.

But going vegan wasn’t just about improving my health.

I also did it because my conscience is troubled by the way humans treat animals and the biosphere.

In the months prior to going vegan, I’d been riding my bike on scenic farm roads in rural Michigan.

I’d stop at corrals, farms, and horse ranches and look into the eyes of the horses, cows, pigs, goats, chickens, and other imprisoned animals.

I watched them interact with each other, tried to “be” with the animals as if we were all equals, not the usual human superiority attitude.

It was easy to see that non-human animals have their own lives, thoughts, feelings, and social networks, their own “personhood.”

I realized that if I consume animal-derived food products, I’m complicit in a brutal system that harms me, the environment, and tens of millions of innocent animals.

I realized that all my life I’d been taught that other animals have no rights.

That we can do whatever we want to them.

And that we shouldn’t much care about the cruel ways we make them suffer and die.

So on December 3, 2015, I went 100% vegan.

As I write this today, only a few months later, I weigh 181 pounds. I’m elated to have dropped 51 pounds in less than four months!

I’ve cut the amount of money I spend on food by 35%.

I’m lighter, more agile, more energetic.

I have almost zero body fat.

The XL and XXL size clothes that I purchased as a fattie are literally falling off of me.

People don’t recognize me.

Athletic activities that had been painful or impossible, such as running long distances outdoors, became pleasurable again.

It feels so nice to rediscover my musculoskeletal system.

I realized that the fat was like an anchor, a suit of excess, that had been weighing me down.

My skin cleared up.

My mental clarity, mood, and self-esteem also improved.

My relationship to food has completely changed for the better.

No longer did I crave certain types of food, or feel controlled by food.

But is it hard to be a vegan?

In some ways it is, and that’s the main reason created The Vegan Samurai website and the Vegan Samurai code of honor.

Because as I’ve researched veganism, animal rights, health, culture and other related topics, I’ve discovered that being vegan is like being a samurai… a warrior.

As a Vegan Samurai, you battle internal cravings that come from being raised in a society that programs you to view animals as mere fodder for your dietary pleasure.

You also deal with moral qualms and PTSD that you as a person of conscience feel from living in a society based on harming animals and the earth.

You may feel socially ostracized, or even morally indignant, when you notice everyone around you blindly participates in harming animals and the earth.

The good news is that being a vegan samurai gives you the strength, knowledge, and encouragement so you can become vegan and stay vegan.

Read all the articles here on my website.  You’ll find information and inspiration so you experience the health, joy, and other benefits of being vegan.

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Just Say No to Seaworld, Zoos, Circuses, Animal Theme Parks

In a previous article here at VeganSamurai.org, we talked about being Vegan Lite versus being a Vegan Samurai. [Read Five Ways Being Vegan is More than Not Eating Animals].

In that article, I mentioned that a Vegan Samurai opposes all forms of animal exploitation and abuse, not just animal exploitation and abuse found in the food industry.

Circuses, zoos, aquariums, and animal theme parks are businesses that imprison, exploit, and abuse animals.

But because those facilities provide “entertainment,” and sometimes education, it’s harder for some people, even some vegans, to give them up and oppose them.

In a recent CNN article about the impacts of the movie Blackfish on SeaWorld, we read the following revealing segment:

But plenty of parents also feel like Laurie Marshall, a mom of two, who has no plans to stop taking her kids to circuses, zoos and aquariums. Marshall, whose kids are 6 and almost 10, just visited SeaWorld two weeks ago and said it was “startling” when you see “how big these creatures are and how small the tanks are.”

Still, her SeaWorld experience didn’t change her mind about bringing her kids to places where they can see animals up close.

 “First, I think it is OK to keep some of these animals in a contained habitat if it does not impede on their lifestyle,” said Marshall, who is the founder and president of Marshall Law Group. “Also, I am not the type to boycott as I don’t believe my sacrifice is going to make a difference and it would deprive my kids of their enjoyment.”

Laurie Marshall’s statements perfectly reveal the speciesism and deliberate selfishness that fuels most of the harms humans do to other animals and the planet.

Specieism is our belief that we’re the best species on the planet, and that this assumed superiority gives us the right to do whatever we want to other species and the planet.

Speciesism echoes the fact that humans are the most powerful, deadly, and consumptive species on the planet.

If by “best species” we mean to say “the species with the most power to imprison, exploit, and kill all other species,” then the description is accurate.

But might doesn’t make right, and just the fact that we can and do dominate all other animals and the earth itself provides zero moral justification to do so.

Marshall was being interviewed about notorious SeaWorld, which puts orcas and other marine mammals into small tanks.

Marshall is quoted as noticing how big the animals are, and how tiny their SeaWorld tanks are.

Thus, Marshall’s statement that it’s ok to “keep some of these animals in a contained habitat if if does not impede on their lifestyle” makes no sense at all.

The very definition of a “contained habitat” means the animals are having their natural lifestyle impeded.

I’m saddened by Marshall’s cluelessness and lack of empathy.

The article describes Marshall as the founder of a law firm. On the firm’s website, we read that Marshall for ten years was in-house counsel for Major League Baseball.

Surely an educated, wealthy woman like Laurie Marshall ought to have the brainpower to understand that if the imprisoned orcas were instead native orcas in ecosystems unspoiled by humans, the orcas would be swimming thousands of miles per year, enjoying all the benefits of open ocean and their natural social groupings.

How can anyone who even minimally understands wildlife biology believe that an orca in a tiny SeaWorld tank is living an “unimpeded lifestyle?”

We also see how Marshall’s statement reveals callousness, fatalism, a flawed sense of entitlement, and extreme selfishness.

For example, she describes it as a “sacrifice” if she was to choose not to bring her children to businesses where animals are imprisoned and harmed.

She wrongly says it won’t make any difference if she boycotts businesses where animals are imprisoned or harmed.

The actual truth is that the boycott of SeaWorld, just like boycotts that stopped rights violations such as South African apartheid, are often successful at achieving positive change.

Another animal imprisonment facility that should be boycotted is the Miami Seaquarium, where an orca has been imprisoned for many years in a tiny tank, exploited for entertainment.

Read here for more information.

In Marshall’s quest to provide “enjoyment” for her kids, she’s willing to be a customer of businesses that imprison and harm animals.

Marshall reminds me of parents who used to bring their kids to public lynchings.

Because American history has been sanitized, many of us don’t know that public lynchings of African-Americans used to be considered “family entertainment.”

Parents made picnic lunches, and a generally festive spirit abounded, similar to what you see at circuses, zoos, and places like SeaWorld.

Thousands of people partied and cheered as blacks and other minorities were tortured and killed.

There were popular postcards depicting lynchings, beatings, people tortured, dismembered, and burned alive.

When I hear someone defending zoos, circuses, SeaWorld, and similar businesses, I ask them the same question I ask people who consume meat, fish, milk, cheese, and eggs.

“If other animals did to you what you think is acceptable to do to them, how would you feel about it?”

I wonder how Marshall would feel if her two children were permanently housed in a small glass chamber where strangers paid to watch them perform tricks.

If Marshall objected to that, but doesn’t object to it being done to orcas, it’s a perfect example of speciesism.

You shouldn’t do it to her precious kids, but it’s ok to do it to other sentient animals… that’s her speciesist “logic.”

The true vegan knows that humans using animals for food is wrong for the same reason that SeaWorld, circuses, and zoos are wrong.

In all cases, it’s our species doing bad things to other species—things we wouldn’t want them to do to us.

The Vegan Samurai goal is to create a deep ecology, egalitarian world, where humans no longer feel the need to dominate, eat, imprison, experiment on, abuse, and otherwise harm animals.

It includes, but goes way beyond, dietary choices. It includes not giving your money to zoos, circuses, Vegas shows, SeaWorld, or any other business that imprisons animals.