Today, August 20, has been designated to honor a special demographic: homeless animals. International Homeless Animal Day (IHAD) was conceived by ISAR (International Society for Animal Rights) to illuminate the very real and very prevalent global problem of dog and cat overpopulation. The third Saturday of each August is a day for all those special furry beings who want and need companionship but who live alone on the streets, in fields, in sewers, or wherever they seek and find shelter.
IHAD claims that one simple solution could greatly reduce the suffering of these furbabies who deserve better: spay and neuter. I’d like to add that an Adopt Don’t Shop mindset would help as well.
Why Vegan and Why 54?
IHAD got me thinking about a post I wanted to write a long while ago: reasons I’m vegan.
Reason #1 Love
What the heck. I’ll just start here. Love is the first word that popped into my mind. I then took the corresponding number to each letter in the word love, added up each letter with a total of 54. It’s all quite random, really. Now I’m tasked to come up with 54 reasons I’m vegan. Totally feasible.
Reason #2 Health
I’m often asked Why are you vegan? Fair question.
While my reasons have evolved over the years, it all started back in 2002 with some developing health issues -digestion & lethargy mostly. At the time I worked at the The Center for Healing and Wellness formerly the Cancer Support and Education Center (CSEC). A nutritionist on the CSEC staff promoted a plant-based diet with what I recall, the exception of fish (something I ate very rarely knowing that our polluted waters also pollute the marine life who reside in them). By the time I became his client, I was no longer eating cow or pig parts and occasionally eating parts of chickens. Easy enough to stop. I was not into eggs but I was really into dairy, cheese. He conducted some (groovy alternative) tests and explained how my lymph nodes were becoming a collection site for the toxins in dairy. He suggested I quit consuming dairy unless I was prepared to deal with future illness, likely cancer. Given the unpleasant potential of being sick and learning how dairy was messing with my digestion and my ability to stay alert, I began the journey of eliminating cheese from my diet. It was scary. I decided to give myself a dairy farewell week of bingeing – breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I mean bingeing. B.I.N.G.E.I.N.G. I ate pounds of cheese. I consumed such an astonishing amount of dairy I made myself ill. Lethargy was an understatement. I was practically debilitated. I had the energy of a sleepy sloth coming down from a night of partying (do sloths have raves?), able to lift my head long enough to stuff torn off chunks of mozzarella in my mouth or to stick my face in a vat of cookie dough ice cream. I pictured myself like Vitellius, that gluttonous Roman Emperor, sprawled out on a couch, listless, unable to lift my body yet still able to put food and drink in my mouth. It was a bad bad scene. In retrospect, the whole idea was kind of dumb. It took me weeks to recover.
Eventually I came out of my cheese coma and entered this new lifestyle. I wanted to understand better the healthy consequences of eating strictly pants. Thought I’d amuse us all by keeping that typo in place. 🙂 PLANTS. By eating plants. My friend Toni found a 7-week class facilitated by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. That’s where I learned more about the countless benefits of eating a plant-based diet and a vegan lifestyle. Since then, Colleen has published about a gazillion books on the topic and has a very popular podcast that I often use as a reference for many of the questions people ask like, “how do you get your protein?” My abridged answer is: everything I eat has protein but my favorite protein comes from nuts, quinoa, hemp, chia, chickpeas, beans, and lentils. And potatoes. In all forms especially fries. With mustard. Lots of mustard.
I was an endurance athlete as a vegan – trail running (races up to 18 miles) and distance skating (up to 60 miles in a day). I feel like my protein intake has been more than sufficient, excellent, actually. I’ll be talking more about this topic in the near future when I embark on my new 21 Days for World Hunger starting September 26.
Check out 25 delicious sources of plant-based protein by one green planet.
Becoming vegan has no doubt changed my life for the better. Apparently the animals are happy about it too. Since I began this journey about 14 years ago, my reasons for becoming vegan have shifted from my health to include other important (to me) factors.
Reason #3 Dogs
Since today is International Homeless Animal Day, it’s befitting that I add dogs to this post. After all, Stella was a homeless puppy at 7 weeks before she was rescued.
But why include dogs as a reason for being vegan?
Considering the fact there are heart-wrenching dog meat festivals in China and Korea where they roundup dogs and slaughter them, it makes one (me) reflect on how casually some animals are exploited and killed for food. To me, an animal is an animal is an animal. I give the same consideration to a cow as I do to a dog. I think dogs are great ambassadors for connecting humans to animals helping us see that animals have souls and emotions and heart. We claim that dogs are capable of unconditional love. I believe that with the animal kingdom all animals are capable of love especially when it comes to protecting their own kind. It’s just with dogs, they see humans as their own kind.
I’ll be posting about the remaining 51 reasons in photographic fashion every couple-few days, so stay tuned!
“Veganism is not about giving anything up or losing anything; it is about gaining the peace within yourself that comes from embracing nonviolence and refusing to participate in the exploitation of the vulnerable.”
~Gary L. Francione
To see the other posts in this series click click click away!
Post 1: International Homeless Animal Day & 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: #’s 1-3
Post 2: Sanctuary One & 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: #’s 4-11
Post 3: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Numbers 12-19
Post 4: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Coyotes and Wolves
Post 5: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Chickens and Turkeys
Post 6: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Smallish Animals and Reptiles 24-30
Post 7: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Marine Life & Birds
Post 8: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: African Animals
Post 9: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Rainforests, Air, Water, Soil, Climate Change, Peace & Hunger (50-54)