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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Carnism & Speceism: The Violent Beliefs We’ve Been Brainwashed Into Believing

There are many “isms” worthy of our protest. Racism, militarism, fascism, sexism, ageism, totalitarianism and more.

But for those of us in the vegan community, by far the worst isms are speciesism and carnism.

These two isms are the most destructive dominant paradigms taught to humans.

Here’s why…

First, let’s define these two paradigms.

Speciesism is the parent of carnism.

It’s a belief long held by humans that we’re by far the most valuable and important species on the planet.

Specieism tells us all other species are inferior to us. That they don’t count anywhere near as much as we do.

They have no rights at all. They’re just property. They’re just “dinner.”

Speciesism includes the belief that the earth itself, and all its biosphere processes, can and should be exploited by humans.

Specieism is the parent of harmful actions against animals including animal experimentation, using animals to make leather, fur coats, and similar materials, circuses, zoos, SeaWorld abuses, and on and on.

A very direct child of specieism is carnism.

The term was first used by heroic scholar and psychologist Dr. Melanie Joy and her must-read book Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows.

Carnism is the belief that it’s morally acceptable for humans to use animals for food.

The destructiveness of these two dominant paradigms is worldwide and horrific.

For humans, speciesism and carnism cause delusional thinking that leads to violence, biosphere mass extinction, and human health degradation.

Let’s be honest: there’s absolutely no rational evidence that humans are “the best” species.

That would be like saying an apple is better than a carrot, or Classical music is better than Celtic music.

It’s always an opinion and value system installed by society whenever someone believes that humans are the best and most important species on the planet.

It’s always scientifically inaccurate too.

In fact, speaking from a purely ecological perspective, humans are the worst species on the planet.

Why is this so? Because unlike all other species, we’ve jumped past evolutionary biology and ecosystem integrity so that wherever we go we create a net loss in natural biodiversity and ecosystems health.

Every other species in an undisturbed native ecosystem—from ants to lions to birds to trees and fungi—is an integrated part of the ecosystem that contributes to biodiversity and ecosystem services such as aerated, nutrients-rich soil.

But when humans come into those systems, they utterly decimate them.

Clearcutting, ranching, agriculture, fracking, use of fossil fuels, technology, machines, chemicals, urbanization, bulldozing, paving, and other common human activities wipe out native ecosystems and the species that depend on them.

Human activities create pollution and extinction. They leave dead zones in their wake.

Here’s the stark truth: the earth is dying because of how we live.

And when you look at carnism, you see a worldwide genocide of BILLIONS of sentient beings per year all so humans can choose to eat animal foods that we don’t need to eat and that are bad for our health!

You absolutely have to get and read Dr. Joy’s book, and also watch the embedded videos in this article, to see the earthshaking scope of carnism’s violence towards animals.

In the short time it takes you to read this article, tens of thousands of animals are killed for food in the USA.

Ten billion animals are killed every year in the USA alone.

This mind-blowing total doesn’t even include fish and other sea creatures.

Many of these innocent animals are killed in ways that humans don’t kill each other. They’re skinned, sawed, chopped up, tortured, boiled… alive.

Faced with these facts, a Vegan Samurai is a warrior against the dominant paradigms of speciesism and carnism.

Yes, many other isms are horrible too.

What Hitler did to the Jews, wars, oppression of women, minorities, the poor… all are terrible.

But only if you subscribe to specieism would you say the bad things humans do to each other every day are more worthy of protest than the monstrous things humans do to tens of millions of animals every day.

A Vegan Samurai realizes that every animal humans harm has personality, emotions, a desire to live a safe and happy life. We see animals as having personhood.

Thus, the scale of the bad things humans do to animals dwarfs the harms humans do to each other.

More animals are killed by humans every year than all the humans who’ve been killed by other humans since humans evolved on this earth.

Please stay tuned to VeganSamurai.org for more articles based on Dr. Joy’s research into the roots of carnism and what carnism does to Nature, animals, individuals, and society.

In the meantime, consider it a point of honor to go beyond being a vegan.  Become a vegan activist who works with all your heart to purge humanity of its brutal, uncaring, and violent actions based on specieism and carnism.

Defending the defenseless is what being a Vegan Samurai is all about.

Who Does the Vegan Samurai Protect?

As you become familiar with the Vegan Samurai warrior code, it’s useful to remember that original ancient samurai were sworn warriors who served the most powerful individuals or social organizations, such as emperors or clans.

This was centuries ago. Crucial differences between today’s vegan samurai and ancient samurai are that a Vegan Samurai isn’t sworn to serve a patriarch, emperor, or military commander.

Nor does a Vegan Samurai use an arsenal of deadly weapons and other martial arts to fight actual physical battles.

So why do I say a vegan samurai is a warrior, and on whose behalf does the vegan samurai fight?

I became a vegan samurai after seeing “undercover” videos and photographs taken at facilities where animals are raised, entrapped, killed, or processed for food, for animal experimentation, or for animal entertainment.

I could relate to the helplessness and suffering of these animals because as a child I was a victim of violent bullying that resulted in physical injury.

I still vividly remember how it felt to be powerless, small, hemmed-in, attacked by cruel humans.

Classmates and even some adults stood back passively while I was attacked.

I cried out for help, but witnesses turned away and left me to suffer alone.

Later on, when my parents reported the incidents to school administrators and even the police, none of the witnesses had the courage to come forward to identify the bullies.

When I saw animal abuse videos and photographs, I immediately identified with the animals, and wanted to be their protector and defender.

Giving voice to the voiceless and defense to the defenseless is a saying I’ve heard and repeated as I’ve gotten more into animal liberation and animal rights.

People with conscience rush to the aid of someone who’s being victimized, especially if the victim is clearly unable to escape or fight back.

So when I decided to give up my weak attempts to be a vegetarian eating mostly organic foods from health stores and take the plunge by going 100% vegan, my resoluteness was bolstered by my desire to protect and defend animals.

The original samurai used martial arts hand-to-hand fighting, along with samurai swords and other war hardware.

They faced extreme physical danger as a matter of honor, and in service to their emperor or other master.

Vegan samurai don’t fight that way. We use words, ideas, images, political lobbying, and lifestyle choices on behalf of animals.

We do face danger and staunch opposition because we’re vegan, but it’s usually not physical danger.

It’s the danger of being an empathic, morals-focused person defending a group of exploited beings in a society that generally scoffs at morals, empathy, and the rights of non-human animals.

In some cases, a vegan faces subtle or overt forms of social ostracism or logistical exclusion.

Vegan travelers, especially in air travel systems or hotels, often find it impossible to source a wide range of vegan food items.

In some families, marriages, or workplaces, vegans are viewed with suspicion, scorn, or even hostility.

We’re tagged as being “scolds,” “judgmental,” “OCD,” “food cops,” party poopers or weirdoes because we refuse to be customers of those who exploit and harm animals.

In fact, vegans are relentlessly slagged on YouTube and in other media venues, and are often subjected to harassment when they make a stand on behalf of innocent animals.

This  may sound blunt or harsh, but people who deliberately harm innocent animals, or whose dietary choices support such harms, could well be described as enemies of those animals.

Given that those animals are the beings I fight for, I see being a vegan means I’m participating in an epic battle between good and evil.

How else can you describe a battle in which your opponents just don’t care that they’re inflicting terrible suffering on other beings?

A vegan samurai also fights internal battles.

We struggle with our own food desires. For example, I was raised eating meat, dairy, fish, and eggs.

When I’m hungry after exercising, and walking past steakhouses and other animal-exploiting food businesses that export their cooking smells into the air, I sometimes feel intense craving for animal-derived foods.

I feel like an alcoholic sworn to never take another drink again, lest I fall off the wagon and lose the battle with alcoholism.

But I won’t give in to those food cravings. I owe it to the animals to stay true to my vegan samurai code.

The main thing to remember is that the vegan samurai’s honor code includes this tenet:

I’ll always stay true to my vegan principles, because I’m defending those who can’t defend themselves.

Why I Became a Vegan Samurai

What is a vegan samurai and why should you consider becoming a vegan samurai?

Let’s start by defining what a vegan samurai is.

I first envisioned the Vegan Samurai code when I was transitioning from raw food and vegetarian diets to veganism while also studying religion, spirituality, philosophy, ethics, animal sentience, and related topics.

As I considered my life and the tenets of general society, it seemed we lack a crucial organizing principle or code of behavior that would create inner peace, physical health, social harmony, and justice.

For example, when I talked to people about the terrible harm human society does to non-human animals and the earth, I sadly learned that many people have no internal moral code and conscience when it comes to such harms.

This lack of internal moral code and ethical conscience starts with individuals and then permeates society as a whole, especially capitalist consumerist societies.

Our world is threatened by amoral hedonism, mindless entertainment, selfishness, greed, narcissism,violence, and relentless consumption of the planet and non-human animals.

Look around all people rushing to and fro in airplanes and cars, in a frenzy of compulsively traveling, buying, talking on or looking at handheld electronic devices.

They’re stressfully busy doing things that almost always involve consuming fossil fuels and other energy sources, eating animals, and harming the planet.

Our technoindustrial grid is founded on systemic, societally-approved brutality: the way humans use animals for food is a perfect example.

In my studies, I noticed earlier cultures had “codes of honor” that organized personal and group relationships around morals, civic duties, and spiritual centeredness.

Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism had aspects of honor codes that greatly impressed me.

But when I discovered Bushido, which is the code of virtues commonly associated with samurai warriors, I felt an immediate clarity, practicality, and attraction.

Samurai warriors have been popularized (in a distorted, sensationalized way) in movies, books, anime, and hentai.

In modern lore, such as the Quentin Tarantino movies Kill Bill: Volumes One and Two, samurai are portrayed primarily as unhinged sword-fighting warriors who possess almost-supernatural fighting skills combined with iron will and a lust for blood, revenge, and victory.

The actual samurai were martial artists and military warriors in Japan hundreds of years ago.

They fought bloody battles using body skills and various weapons including samurai swords.

But fighting and blood aren’t the whole samurai story– true samurai were also trained in the liberal arts, and had a rigid personal honor code that governed the way they managed their thoughts, ethics, actions, and interactions with others.

This code and the samurai lifestyle are sometimes known as “Bushido.”

I don’t follow all aspects of Bushido, of course, because I’m not a sword-wielding warrior serving an emperor.

But I was particularly impressed that Bushido required frugality, self-control, benevolence, sincerity, loyalty, respectfulness, and right behavior towards others.

I also like the fact that Zen Buddhism influenced samurai and Bushido.

Buddhism, of all major “religions,” has by far the most explicit teachings forbidding the killing of animals.

Buddhism also acknowledges more than any other religion that all animals are sentient, not just human animals.

A further benefit for those of us walking the vegan path is Buddhism includes the practices and teachings of “emptiness,” and meditation—two inward-looking concepts that clear the mind to provide an accurate, calm, and health-enhancing view of “self” and life.

As I started the vegan life exposed to the enormous societal and interpersonal pressures from those who create or eat animal-derived food products, I felt a need to be a “warrior” for veganism, the earth, and animals harmed by humans.

I also noticed that being vegan in a non-vegan society, where I too had been raised to love eating flesh, eggs, and dairy, is a spiritual warrior path requiring us to always strengthen our resolve by remembering the moral reasons we adopted veganism.

To put it simply, I learned to resist external and internal negatives by following a form of vegan Bushido code, so I could stay on the vegan path as an empathic being in a world full of needless suffering.

My commitment to non-killing, to not being a customer of those who exploit animals, involves honor, frugality, benevolence, sincerity, loyalty, self-control and other Bushido values.

Of course, I’m not into sword fighting or ritual suicide as the ancient samurai warriors were.

While the original samurai had no qualms about shedding blood, the vegan samurai is dedicated to preventing the shedding of blood, especially the blood of animals tortured and slaughtered for food.

So there you have it… the birth of the vegan samurai.

To my knowledge, I’m the only one so far.

I’ll be writing more articles that explain and amplify what a vegan samurai is and does, and I hope you too will become a vegan samurai.

For now, I suggest reading this book on the Bushido code, and also engaging the YouTube videos I’ve embedded herein.

The bottom line is that being vegan is a form of being a warrior… a wholly honorable warrior on behalf of innocent animals, mother earth, a just society, and your own physical and spiritual health!