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. Lisa says:

    I'm vegan. I run marathons, play soccer, and lift weights. I don't take anything more than a daily multivitamin. I feel great! I only wish I did it earlier in life!

  2. elephantjournal says:

    "Hits" are readers, and yes we do want readers on "the mindful life," just as a book store wants to sell books—not to reap wealth, merely, but to be a part of their community and fulfill their mission.

    But I tied this to comments, not readership views, to encourage all of our readers to think about going vegan, which I explained twice in my letter. Thanks for your glass half-empty cynicism.

  3. aymcginley says:

    Alot of people go vegan for the animal rights reasons, which are certainly valiant and heroic ones. I, myself, am vegan for health reasons. If you have never spent the time reading “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell, please do so. I also hear too many people complain that Vegans are uppity and mean. Some are. So are some fiercely devoted meat eaters. It just takes one compassionate, passionate, well meaning person to turn a sterotype into a myth. Do it man. Your body will thank you 🙂

  4. tracey says:

    Well besides the fact that being Vegan rocks in general, think of all the animals that will be saved in just one year.

  5. elephantjournal says:

    As I said in my letter, above, the comment stunt is just that, a stunt—to encourage many, not just myself, to consider their diet.

  6. elephantjournal says:

    Sounds good!

  7. elephantjournal says:

    I've just been told that too much soy isn't healthy…though of course too much dairy isn't healthy for me, now! I'll check it out.

  8. Kriss Young says:

    I hope you do it. After being vegetarian for most of my life, I became vegan in January of this year, so it’s almost been a year for me, and I can’t see myself going back. I did it for ethical reasons, but have found that I am much healthier now. (I’m eating way more veggies and grains than I ever have before.)

    I think there will always be a demand for meat and dairy. However, by going vegan and writing about it, you are doing what you can to bring the issues that concern vegans to light, and that’s a good thing. If anything, we can work together to improve conditions on the farms, and decrease the demand for meat and dairy.

    Good luck, I hope you do it.

  9. Melissa says:

    You are going to LOVE being vegan!

  10. elephantjournal says:

    Hah. We've shared it up twice, which is about what we do for most popular articles. We'll see! It's been really active on twitter, too, even this morning, three days later.

  11. elephantjournal says:

    Yumyum…thanks for the suggestions!

  12. elephantjournal says:

    That would be my goal…inspire others by dialogue, blogging, example…not aggression and proselytizing.

  13. Marine says:

    You’re so close anyway, just go for it! As soon as you stop eating dairy you’ll stop craving it since it’s addictive due to it’s opiate properties.

  14. pbw says:

    Go vegan. Do it for the animals, do it for the environment, and do it for you. FYI – Daiya mozzarella is delicious on pizza!

  15. elephantjournal says:

    Well, again, palm oil and soy etc hurt many animals out there…it's not so simple.

  16. elephantjournal says:

    5,000 comments and I'll hop on one foot for a week.

  17. Lisa says:

    Reasons NOT to go vegan:
    1 – you hate chickens… seriously, hate them
    2 – you love the idea of baby cows being stolen from their mothers so you can have ice cream
    3 – you hope to kill off future generations before they begin by supporting environmental massacre now
    4 – you want to fit in at least one or two heart attacks before you die

  18. Jess says:

    Oh, I hope you get 500! At almost 30 I recently became vegan and haven’t looked back! I love it. I also love Daiya cheese, it’s what I use on pizzas! Maybe switch to sorbet? Try Ciao Bella, if you like chocolate theirs is to die for! Their orange is also amazing!

  19. Cacchinator says:

    Go for it! It's the only ethical thing to do.

  20. Jake says:

    You should go vegan because it's the morally right thing to do. See the pamphlet at http://www.veganpamphlet.com for a brief but compelling moral argument for veganism!

  21. Val says:

    Please go vegan 🙂 Although it is clearly easier when you have no doubts about it.

  22. Corinna says:

    I am not the biggest fan of soymilk either! I agree with the other commenter about almond milk. Almond milk is just the right consistency, although I haven't had cows milk in years. I also really like rice milk although it is much thinner (kind of similar to non-fat cow's milk).
    I am also not a huge fan of vegan cheeses, but I love nutritional yeast and learning how to cook with that and make the right recipes for certain foods is definitely an adventure.

  23. Imz_Aqua says:

    Here are some great websites to check out: http://www.animalequality.net , http://www.peacefulprairie.org and <a href="http://www.humanemyth.org” target=”_blank”>www.humanemyth.org
    Powerful and moving demonstration by Igualdad Animal/Animal Equality: http://vimeo.com/33770159

  24. sean says:

    Enjoy the Journey…Don't be to hard on your self..Enjoy!

  25. Claudia says:

    Please go vegan!

  26. Cris1707 says:

    Give it a go, what have you got to lose? Loads of people have found it to be the best thing they did.

  27. Cris1707 says:

    Where on earth did you get that idea? I've been vegan 21 years and never had these probles, nor have any vegans I know.

  28. aymcginley says:

    When you go veg, your body has to detox from all the unnecessary pollutants in your body. It is normal and natural to feel cranky, moody, and awful. Animal products are like drugs. They literally have some of the affects of known drugs. After the fog lifts, you feel like a million bucks though! I would give it another shot if I was you! 😉

  29. Stephanie says:

    Prepare to feel better (and poop more) my friend! I applause your sense of adventure and good luck!

  30. Living vegan will be the BEST thing you can do for your health, environment and animals in the new year. I’m a vegan consultant helping people go and stay vegan, let me know how I can help you. I love your website and wish you ALL the best in 2012!! Go Veg : )

  31. Viv says:

    I Love Eating Vegan!!!!

  32. Annie says:

    Daiya cheese and So Delicious ice cream are great – adult mammals are never meant to consume dairy. Milk is for babies. No matter how local or small or eco-friendly the dairy farm is, it’s still giving the mothers’ milk of one species needlessly to another species. And those calves don’t live the best lives, either. Read “Vegan for Life” (written by two vegan dieticians) to make sure you do it right and GOOD LUCK! 🙂

  33. Found you via "Will Travel For Vegan Food". I've been vegan except for honey for nearly a year after wavering between ovo-lacto veggie and vegan for coming up on 20 years now. Personally, I feel much better physically and emotionally when I stick to a vegan diet. I encourage you to try it. There's no nutritional need for dairy products, and I find it better to concentrate on less processed foods than relying on dairy (and meat) substitutes for most of my meals. Of course living in San Francisco I have it relatively easy. 🙂 Good luck!

  34. kristie says:

    definitely do it and stick with it way past 2012
    its the healthiest diet for any stage of life
    its good for the environment
    its good for you
    it saves lives

  35. kristie says:


  36. Dan hanley says:

    Go for it Waylon. This is a great idea! You deserve it! I have been vegan for almost 17 years and LOVE it. Plus, there are so many awesome choices these days.

  37. supercarrot says:

    of course you should go vegan. 🙂

  38. HealthNut27 says:

    You CAN do it!!! I went vegan for health reasons and LOVE my new lifestyle. Just make sure to eat all natural fruits, veggies, nuts/seeds, oils, whole grains and beans/plant protein and try to stay away from processed crap (i mean really, an oreo is actually vegan). I've lost a total of 65 lbs and manage a chronic pain condition without medication, I also cured/manage hypothyroidism with a raw, vegan diet. (no more pills for me). Good Luck, I hope you get 500 comments!!

  39. Craig says:

    Go for it. Being vegan is easy.

  40. Rogue says:

    Pure Decadence makes an amazing vegan ice cream. Their Cookie Avalanche helped me finally give up dairy. See, I gave up dairy first. Once I actually thought about what it was… yeah… nasty.
    It’s the body fluid of not just another creature, but another species. No other member of the animal kingdom nurses past maturity. Cows milk is designed to help baby cows grow up to be giant adult cows, etc etc etc.
    To be honest, I really don’t feel like there is anything I can share with you other than what you probably already know (except maybe about the vegan ice cream, Soy Delicious is a pretty good brand as well). There is just one great reason to become fully vegan: BECAUSE YOU CAN!
    We are so lucky to live in a society where we can live such a cruelty free lifestyle, have access to resources and education and products to help us, so why not take advantage of it!
    For vegan cheese I like Daiya, but I think I might try an almond kind since you say you dig it (can you recommend a brand?).

  41. Corinna says:

    One reason to go vegan: the dairy industry created the veal industry. Yuck.

    Definitely do it for yourself, sometimes people just need that extra push to help them out. Go volunteer at a farmed animal sanctuary and learn where the cows come from. Used up milk cows that would have been sent to slaughter or discarded day old male calves from the dairy industry.

    Definitely stick with almond milk and as everyone has said before Daiya cheese. Also try making your own cheese sauce and block cheese with The Uncheese Cookbook. I also agree with using How It All Vegan. Super simple and delicious!

  42. Do it………All sentient beings deserve compassion. There is no "kind" way to kill a child, an adult, or an animal-to exploit for your own use. Your heart, health, karma will all be eternally grateful to you for your compassion.

  43. Sadaf says:

    You can go vegan to help put a dent in food hunger for the impoverished. http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/http://www.compassionatespirit.com/world-hunger.h

  44. veg44 says:

    Comment… Don't just go vegan for a year go forever! I've been veg for 40 years! No need to eat any animal product!

  45. Theresa says:

    Vegan+ healthy you, healthy planet, happy animals AND solves world hunger!! Best thing you'll ever do! 🙂

    Btw…dairy is the MOST addictive food ever, due to that it contains "oxytocin" the brain chemical that helps you feel "bonded" to mom when breast feeding…and is also released after orgasm. get off the dairy (it's full of puss and blood and antibiotics anyway) and for milk try soaking 30 almonds over night…then rinse in the morning blend with enough water to cover your almonds for one minute…then fill the blender with water and blend for another 30seconds…volia! a litre of raw, unprocessed creamier than milk goodness!

  46. Almandine says:

    Watch Earthlings at http://www.earthlings.com (free) and please go vegan!

  47. Patrick says:

    If you need 500 comments/reasons to go vegan for a year after all the time you been aware of the issues, then it seems that you're more interested in traffic to your blog than anything else. Good luck with whatever you decide.

  48. emily says:

    Go vegan. It's a transition, but it becomes second nature after a while. Especially now that you can get so many vegan foods/ingredients at any store. For vegan cheese, try Daiya. But, all non-dairy dairy-like products are not going to taste like dairy! Nor should they! As far as cookbooks go, try Veganomicon. Being vegan is good for you (healthwise), the environment, and for the animals.