500 comments, & I’ll go Vegan for a year.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Dec 26, 2011
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Why should I go Vegan in 2012? #NewYearsResolutions

I’m going vegan, maybe. And using the consideration over the next few days to inspire a respectful consideration for our whole mindful community. I’ll decide based on comments, on New Year’s Day. ~ ed.

Growing up, I ate meat—until I was four, or something, and I realized the cute pigs and other animals I was reading about in children’s books were what I was eating on my plate. That’s gross, and mean, and crazy, I thought!

I became vegetarian for two weeks.

Fast forward 10 years or so and my Buddhist practice of tonglen (compassion meditation, you could call it) and my newfound passion for environmental responsibility (started by the fun, simple book 50 Ways to Save the Planet) led me to eat and enjoy less and less meat. The changes in my diet weren’t particularly inspired by compassion for animals—it was more about eating mindfully, and appreciating what I was eating, and only eating meat when I knew where it was coming from. This was around 1995.

In 1999, I was barely eating meat, ever. My then-girlfriend, a lifelong vegetarian, moved in, and I casually offered to only eat meat out, since separating the pots and pans and cutting boards and all was a bit of a hassle. Overnight, I wound up, rather inadvertently, becoming a full-fledged vegetarian for the first time in my life. Why? Well, I’d been hardly eating any meat, anyways. I never got pepperoni or sausage on pizza, since I didn’t know where it hailed from (almost certainly a factory farm, and I wasn’t down with ordering torture for dinner). Most helpfully, my gf didn’t proselytize…she just ate healthfully, and showed me how (which is key: many folks who “try” veganism just take the meat out and then wonder why they feel weak). Instead of looking for meat substitutes, which rarely compared to the real thing, she ate a wonderful, delicious diet full of protein. At 185 pounds, very active (bicycling every day, etc) I felt just as good as always.

I’ve been vegetarian ever since, and it’s been easy. I don’t really think about it, and the few times I’ve been offered meat and accepted (once by my Buddhist teacher, as a sort of prank) it’s tasted like flesh, not the yummy meat I remembered. I no longer want it. Sure, bacon still smells good, but so might bbq’d human or dog or horse, and we wouldn’t eat that if it smelled nice, would we?

Day to day, I’m just about vegan. Have been for some time. I don’t eat meat, of course, and I don’t use milk for anything (I switched to Americanos or black coffee, leaving behind dry capuccinos, with the encouragement of some of my vegan frenemies a year ago). The only time I eat dairy is when cheese, for nachos, or Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. I’ve tried all the vegan ice creams, and they don’t cut it. Not nearly. At least, not yet.

So, I ask you: why should I go vegan in 2012?

I have slow food friends who’d rather see me eat meat again mindfully, and appreciate the best of foodie culture. I myself have been turned off by some of the aggression in the vegan community, and hesitate to join their ranks. But my conscience is more important to me than any of that. Why should I eat dairy? Does eating mindfully produced dairy or meat help change an industry more than abstention? Can conscious consumerism make the dairy and meat industries kinder than going vegan, where you’re removing any incentive for said industries to get more gentle and responsible?

Also, Michael Pollan, Joel Salatin and others (see here for my interviews with them) say that if everyone went vegan, there would be no domesticated animals left at all. If we didn’t have an incentive to keep cows and goats and chickens and even buffalo around, they’d be gone. Poof. Most vegans say, well, that’s fine. These are breeds not intended to live in the wild, anyways. Still, that seems complicated: vegans shrug shoulders at the prospect of losing millions of acres of farmland and millions of animals (though I understand they live miserable lives).

So I’m looking for comments, for or against, or middle of the road.

Whatever you think. Why should I go vegan? Why shouldn’t I? What’s a good (truly) vegan ice cream? What’s a good vegan cheese (I’ve been buying almond for some time, and am impressed—they work for nachos! Not so sure about pizza).

If we get to 500 comments (for and against both count, to aid the spirit of mutual respect and conversation)—our most-comments-on-one-blog-ever on elephant is 488—I’ll go vegan for a year. And write about the experience, which should involve many more readers in this vital contemplation. If all goes well, I’ll stay vegan.

Why so many comments? Because I’d like to use my path, here, as an instigator of conversation for as many of us as elephant’s diverse community can reach to figure out how to live responsibly, with joy, and with minimal aggression and prejudgment at others. Any disrespectful, personal comments to anyone will be deleted, and won’t count toward the total. Leave a comment. One word is enough.

Help this conversation get out there. Share this to your Facebook wall, or email it to your list, or tweet this (hashtag #mindful to share with other elephant readers).

The deadline is, of course, New Year’s Eve, at midnight, when I’ll be emceeing at BMOCA.

Bonus >

Peta’s 10 Reasons to go Vegan.

elephant’s 5 tips for making the Vegan transition.

PS: Pigs are cute. Pigs are also smart.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


450 Responses to “500 comments, & I’ll go Vegan for a year.”

  1. adamc says:

    I converted to an animal free diet 6 years ago. One of the best decisions I have made in my life. I feel awesome.

  2. Martha says:

    Best of luck to you.

  3. There was three comments. Here's a fourth! Good luck with 500. Don't seem like your pushin' it too much. Haha.

  4. Lysander says:

    You will feel AMAZING. Do it 🙂 My BF has been vegan for 7 mnths and feels great. Good luck! X

  5. Philip says:

    what a sad and irresponsible comment this is.

  6. Mmondora says:

    Go vegan!

  7. Casper says:

    I've considered becoming vegan before, but then I considered the fact that if we weren't meant to eat beef and pork then cows and pigs would be poisonous or taste terrible. As it turns out they provide us with an excellent source of protein and are delicious. Also, until the producers stop killing the animals it would be a waste not to eat them, right?

  8. H4M says:

    Because milk is for calves. It wouldn't even be there for humans to consume if humans didn't also kill and eat calves.

  9. Anita says:

    I'd like to hear about your experiences. So I say go for it! Maybe I will join you during the year…

  10. Bun says:

    Go vegan!

  11. Kate says:

    Going Vegan was the best decision I ever made. I have alot more energy and have lost a ton of weight 🙂 I have honestly never felt healthier.

  12. elisha says:

    Go vegan.if you mean it, it will make sense and you can try to be one of the people that give vegans a good name.

  13. Jen says:

    It’s a great feeling to be vegan! Good luck!

  14. LAFinfinger says:

    Go for it! For me, it wasn't easy or sustainable but it might be perfect for you! Good luck! P.S. I hope people hook you up with lots of free Vegan goodies!

  15. tamar says:

    if you don’t want torture for dinner. go vegan! it’s that simple – sounds like you’re already on the path.

    dairy cows go through even more torturous lives than cows raised for meat.

    there are so many delicious, healthy, vegan things to eat! enjoy!

  16. consciouschoices says:

    go vegan! there are only positive things to come of it!

  17. Lisa says:

    I toyed with the raw food thing in the last year…my commitment to myself in the new year is to make it to that 100% raw state. Why? Because I'm overweight, fighting diabetes and sick and tired of being sick and tired. I never felt better than when I was on a green smoothie fest. There are so many sites out there now with awesome recipes, going vegan no longer means life is a salad bar!

  18. Sophia says:

    Go do it! And bask in your clean conscience 🙂

  19. Provoked says:

    Hi! Since you are already vegetarian the only issues are eggs and dairy… As you probably know – these are two of the most cruel "products" gotten from the animal industries. Fortunately — These are also two of the easiest things to replace! There's dozens of different kinds of plant milks… Heck, you can even make your own blends! And there are many egg replacers as well…

    Please do give a year to change your life for the better… And the beautiful creatures that I KNOW you would be kind to if you had the chance… You DO have that chance!
    Good luck! 😉

  20. Christina says:

    Is there any argument towards hurting animals before we eat them? I don't think so. Unless we can really ensure what we eat had a happy life (whether the t-bone steak or the milk cow), we should make the pro-compassion choice. I believe. Eating meat and dairy also contributes to mass (genetically modified) grain production for feed… Totally unfair. Please go vegan and talk about it! And veganism shouldn't be fanatical, it should be full of love! Love yourself and all others on this planet.

  21. Heather says:

    I cant stop expressing my love for daiya and gardein, some great newish vegan products that make everything so much easier, and are delicious.

  22. Kristen says:

    Try it! I know that some vegans can become dreadfully self-righteous (and I say this as a vegan myself.. Well… a “beegan”…[I eat honey on occasion]), but you obviously have enough control over your passions and such to avoid such pitfalls. Don’t forgo something right just because others may tarnish it: it need not happen to you.

  23. CWM says:

    Do it!

  24. kitty1259 says:

    Dear Waylan Lewis;
    I think that you SHOULD go vegan… of course its a whole lifestyle choice… no leather, no feathers, no fur… The reason I think you should do it is because you will get a lot of attention and you will bring alot of attention to the cause. Maybe you will influence others to make more conscious choices. I do it for the animals and for mother earth… for me its simple. It is not about human-centric (how did we get to be so selfish and self-centered?) choices and preferences… I know in my heart that the way the animals are tortured, enslaved, brutalized, is not right. Those who continue to eat meat are affecting the planet we all have to live on. So I don't "DO IT" for myself because of my personal preferences. I do it for "OTHERS."

  25. @ckdozi says:

    A commitment for a year I am in support of. Jai Sugrim can be a great resource http://www.muktiman.com/ I think you will bring your profoundness of a subject. to a new level. Life is short, bring compassion to yourself and others. Thankful to live in a land of the freedom to choose.

  26. Tatiana says:

    Myriam, I am type 0 and I've been a vegeterian (no seafood) for about six years and went vegan about two years ago. It was the easiest thing I've ever done! And I gave birth to a very healthy child. Just try it, there is nothing in your blood type that tells you to eat animal products!

  27. ximenamilagros says:

    here is a link from Daiya's website on where you can find it: http://www.daiyafoods.com/where/

  28. Rachel says:

    It’s true there are really annoying vegans but try being one for awhile and notice how frustrating a normal dinner can be. Example: friends want to go to the fancy new locavore styled steak house. Since I travel for work a log I know that steakhouses are not a bad option for a vegan as you can almost always get baked potato and steamed broccoli. So at fancy place I try to order said items sans butter. The server asks if I’m vegetarian and without waiting for a response snidely says. “we don’t cater to vegetarians” as if I were somehow going to magically make a steakhouse vegetarian by getting a baked potato. This is not an altogether unusual situation With my locavore friends. Occasionally. I snap. It’s true. When I get invited to a dinner party and there’s nothing for me to eat I wonder why I was even invited.

    Vegans for the most part are pretty low key, we tend to have a sense of humor about our eating patterns and are generally extremely gracious when we find places that accommodate our needs. My favorite restaurants aren’t vegetarian but are kind enough to ask oh are you vegan? And explain to me my options. Love that.

    As for the animals going extinct? I’m not sure if that’s really what vegans want. It’s not really a question that needs answering now as it’s a far off dream that stealing animals energy will be over. I imagine that people would keep them as pets. I mean ever met a cow you didn’t like? Me neither. Adorable.

    Good luck Waylon. The more reasonable vegan voices people hear the less reasonable it will be for people to point out the rare aggressive vegan.

  29. Melissa says:

    Sounds like an interesting journey – would be happy to follow and see what changes come with an updated diet. For me, as a vegan of 9 years, veganism is anything but extreme. This lifestyle brought me a new set of lenses to analyze the world that we live in and our the impacts of our decisions. I am a more centered, conscious, compassionate, and present individual who gives back to a system I previously just existed within. To me, the heart disease and cancer (chemo and multiple heart attacks, stints, and open heart bypass surgeries) sprinkled amongst my family members (ranching and dairy lineage) is extreme. Type II diabetes in children is extreme and the lack of health of our nation is based on a various incongruencies with our lifestyles but significantly impacted by our food choices; processed foods and disconnection with our communities and the active participation required to invoke the most healthful and present versions of ourselves. As food ciitizens, we have an opportunity to demand more from the system that currently creates illness. For me, abstaining from this process is one of the greatest forms of activism that touches three important goals – health, environment, and compassionate consciousness.

  30. Katie says:

    Regardless of the complications of the future of domesticated animals, think of the health benefits! Give veganism a try! 🙂

  31. Lianne says:

    I definitely support this, adopting a "whole foods/unprocessed" vegan diet can only be a positive choice and has the potential to show many people how healthy it can be.

  32. April says:

    Hahahaha YOU ASKED FOR 500 COMMENTS TO READ. As for the vegan part, JUST DO IT. You're more than half way there. I hope you have some fine vegan dining options nearby, so you can still indulge in dining out without hassle. Good Luck!

  33. Paul says:

    Along with being an uncle to my nieces and nephews, becoming vegan has been the most meaningful thing I have done in the 50 years of my life so far. After over 4 years of being vegan, I still marvel at how light I feel–physically, emotionally, spiritually. In my experience, when you let go of participating in exploitation and harsh treatment of others (not to mention slaughter), the world takes on a totally different feel, and I love it. I was vegetarian for some time before transitioning to vegan, and I can say that giving up dairy and eggs really brought my vegetarianism alive–I had not realized how much eating diary and eggs was keeping me bound to the pain and suffering of other animals. My consciousness opened up exponentially once I gave up all animal products. And one unexpected by-product of living vegan for me has been a greater appreciation of plant life. When I eat plants, I recognize that I am causing them harm just as I was causing harm to other animals when I ate them. But for me the goal is to do my best to cause the least amount of harm, not to cause no harm, which is not possible. So every time I eat a meal, I say a silent blessing of gratitude for all the beings who contributed to providing me with the nutrition I am about to consume, and this has helped me feel more connected to the Earth and to all beings than I ever could have expected. Being vegan is a blessing. I hope you will come to enjoy that blessing.

  34. dan says:

    whats the other two? haha enemy for ever!

  35. […] all of the above products have in common is that they contain beeswax. If you are looking for a vegan lipbalm this one is […]

  36. Myriam says:

    Thanks Tatiana. I find myself getting hungry every two hours on a vegan diet. is that normal? I've done vegan for short periods of time and find I crave fish all the time. I also do not tolerate soy or gluten products, so that leaves out quite a lot of foods. What do you eat to feel satisfied?

  37. Alphonse says:

    Do it! Go vegan!

    I disagree that becoming vegan, and severing ties with the animal agriculture industry, is less effective than striving to eat more ethically-generated animal products in terms of transforming the way in which animal products are produced, as I think that, as the burgeoning population of veggies continues to increase, that alone will have to create some type of response in the animal agribusiness in an effort to win those people back.

    Also, I'm guessing you've tried So(y) Delicious ice cream, but it rocks my world every time I eat it.

  38. Alphonse says:

    Also, while trying to eat more ethically-produced animal products can change the industry, veganism alone changes it by decreasing the demand for animal products, thereby sparing lives and reducing suffering immediately. Ethical changes within the industry may ultimately be counterproductive (though I don't really believe this), as they can lead people on the fence to continue to eat animal products instead of ditching them altogether, thus perpetuating an ultimately harmful and exploitative industry no matter how it's conducted.

  39. Alison says:

    Do it. You can save so many animals and help the planet too. Pus there is so much wonderful vegan food out there.

  40. wendychambers777 says:

    Vegan for 2 years – never looking back….. feeling fantastic, loving it and knowing that I am making a difference for this planet 🙂

  41. Travis says:

    d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-DO IT!

  42. Kristin says:

    247 to go.. yes, yes, yes!!! 🙂 xo

  43. Kris says:

    I've been vegan for 5 years. I'm happy, healthy, and ready to support YOUR journey!! 😀

  44. Rose says:

    You can do iiiiitttt!!! <3

  45. LajKristin says:

    I love this. Good luck and wish you all the best in your vegan journey. 🙂

  46. TeaAddictedGeek says:

    Come to the vegan side, we have cookies. 😀

  47. elephantjournal says:

    Grrrrrreat point. I already don't buy new leather or anything, though I do buy vintage on occasion. That includes craigslist furniture, where I try not to buy even vintage leather if I have the choice, since it still makes leather look stylee, which could lead others to buying leather. We've blogged about this issue in the past…it's all these blogs that is turning my mind slowly!

  48. Glenn Barres says:

    +1 to count and page.