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. Cali says:

    Go vegan! For your health! For the animals! For the planet!
    Happy munchin’

  2. Jess says:

    Absolutely changed my life. Go for it – what do you have to lose?

  3. Gayle says:

    Do it for your immune system!

    Dairy is terrible for you. I used to have at least one sinus infection per year. Since I went vegan ten years ago, I haven't had a single one. I'm also crazy regular and never get sick even though I teach high school!

    The people who say being vegan is unhealthy are deluded.

    Daiya is great cheese for pizza and I like the Soy Decadent Coconut milk ice cream. I think almond milk is the best!

    Good luck!

  4. groovecookie says:

    do it!!

  5. Meredith says:

    Anything that seems like a good idea and feels good and right is worth trying.

  6. Emma says:

    I’m what I call a “loose pescatarian”. I’m from a southern family, so when I go home, there’s a lot of meat in everyone’s food. It’s hard to sustain yourself on a vegetarian diet. I guess I’m not that committed but I try to consume as little meat as possible because it’s a luxury. A vegan lifestyle is very admirable and I wish you the best!

  7. elcastleberry says:

    I'm a "loose pescatarian", hopefully on my way to veganism. Inspire me!

  8. Barb says:

    More power to you. I haven't gotten past vegetarianism.

  9. Amy says:

    Do it! 😀 I’ve been vegan for over 2 years and I love it. Daiya cheese is amazing, tastes just like the cheese I remember. You might want to just do the one year or you may find you love it as much as me, but I think you should give it a go regardless.

  10. elephantjournal says:

    To all those who are thumbing down those you disagree with…not a great way to support learning dialogue. Thumb up everyone who's respectful, whatever their view, c'mon people, let's keep this positive! ~ Waylon

  11. elephantjournal says:

    I've answered that question three times in my article, and multiple times in comments.

  12. elephantjournal says:

    Um, Ben & Jerry's, for one..!

  13. Betty says:

    best advise is try new dishes!! experiment and make your favorites vegan. only eat what makes you happy.

  14. elephantjournal says:

    Soy is not good for us, and not good for the planet…and results in many animal deaths when rainforest is clearcut for more soy, no?

  15. 8erica says:

    Do it! this was the best decision I have made for my health and I feel more spiritually authentic given how much I love animals. For those feeling like they can't go all the way – just try it, it is easier than you think…especially when you realize that dairy really includes puss and mucus…

  16. elephantjournal says:

    Yay, let me know how it goes, blog about it here if you like: [email protected]

  17. Ref says:

    403…Got it!

  18. elephantjournal says:

    You're my hero. Thanks for your good work!

  19. elephantjournal says:

    Love that quote. Think it includes all those without power…the sick, the homeless, the hungry, the poor.

  20. elephantjournal says:

    I've answered that question directly three times in the article and several times in comments. Perhaps you need some heavier meats to help you focus?

  21. elephantjournal says:

    If you'd like to share/link your blog on elephant, email us: [email protected], would love more food/diet dialogue here.

  22. juliet says:

    Absolutely, go for it, you won't look back

  23. Alison says:

    To produce milk, cows have to deliver a baby. If the cow nurses her baby, then there is no milk left for human consumption. So even in an "organic" dairy, the baby is sent away to become veal if male or another dairy cow if female. Either way, these calves are not allowed to stay with their mothers for more than a few hours or days. If you are trying to live mindfully, there really is more cruelty in a glass of milk or piece of cheese than in a steak.

  24. OmShanti says:

    I totally agree…the dairy industry has to be one of the cruelest things on earth. I'd eat meat again before I'd ever eat dairy…and that will be never:)

  25. Kalara says:

    If not vegan, at least vegetarian. I'm trying to convince my family not to eat meat – alas, they are still corpse eaters. But they are cutting down… it's a small planet and meat is wasteful.

  26. Betty says:

    http://pinterest.com/pin/41236152807800235/ http://www.veganoutreach.org/articles/animalsnota… Meat-eaters are the only ones in a position to save animals in the future. We have to engage them in a constructive and honest manner, not glorify ourselves or impress other vegans. I urge those pinterested to refer to the link of origin for oddles of information 🙂 Vegan goodies is a "springboard" to a vegan world of information…not just a collection of images. "I'm just one species among so many incredible beings sharing planet Earth with me… "In a world older and more complete than ours, they are more finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other Nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time." (Henry Beston)

  27. Kelsey says:

    Yes!!! Go vegan.

  28. Bryon says:

    Go dude!

  29. Shel says:

    Go vegan! Eat lots of veggies. Tastes good, feels good, is good. Best wishes for 2012. Enjoy!

  30. Candice Garrett says:

    I think vegans are awesome. I am not one, but I eat a TON of vegan food. So why not vegan? Because I really like whole ingredients. Butter = butter. I understand it might not be healthier, but I am more comfortable with foods that have as few, whole ingredients as possible. I can't bring myself to eat a shit ton of processed crap just because they call it vegan, and that includes tofu and veggie burgers and all that, except for rarely. THAT BEING SAID: I know there is a way to do it where you are still vegan, eat a balanced diet and avoid all those scary lab-made foods. So if you can do it that way, I'm all for you going vegan Way!

  31. Vince says:

    hey Waylon,
    I've been vegetarian for a couple of years and I switched ti vegan last spring. Its not that big of a deal, no milk no meat no eggs. No milk related problems from eating or drinking stuff made for calves, no meat issues from cholesterol or for me, gout that really sucked and no cholesterol from eggs. The other thing is that if everything is an aspect of the Divine then I'm not eating and disrespecting the that which is part of me and everything else. Sure meat and milk and eggs taste good, but that is all it has to offer; so I have to take a vitamin B supplement that is only because we chlorinate the tap water and kill the bacteria that used to provide us with the Bs (dead tap water is better than typhus and cholera et al) So go vegan because all those animals we used to kill to eat end up being part of what kills omnivores. Being lower on the food chain is better.

  32. Holling says:

    Eating animals' flesh and their menstrual fluids and breast milk is both cruel and disgustingly bizarre.
    I have been vegan over 20 years. My son has been vegan his whole life – over 8 years – and we are healthy, rarely sick, full of energy.
    Jump on in! Good luck!

  33. catnipkiss says:

    I think it would be interesting to hear your thoughts about it while you are trying it out. – Alexa M. (PS see you New Years!)

  34. jeni vegan says:


  35. Robin Velasco says:

    Please go Vegan 🙂 It will really be a GREAT example to a lot of people! There are many reasons to go Vegan, and an encyclopedia of books can be written on this topic alone 🙂

  36. Don says:

    Don't do it! oh wait…..

  37. lauren says:

    Definitely do it! I was eating 90% vegan, then went 100% and wondered why training for a 5k was so much easier than usual. It's definitely not unhealthy at all, and not hard either – only as hard as any other healthy diet is to maintain. Read Vegan for Life by two vegan nutritionists, Ginny Messina and Jack Norris. It hurts to hear people hate veganism so much. I hope you enjoy it if you do it! I do!

  38. Linh says:

    Wow. By being Veg for one year, you can save 84,000 gallons of water and 2400 with each meal?

    Save 84,000 gallons of water – animals and animal agriculture consume a lot of water. Consider that it takes 2,400 gallons of water to make one pound of beef. Other animals such as chickens and pigs consume less water than cattle, but their consumption is still pretty high given the sheer numbers of animals used for food.

    CHECK IT OUT! http://wannaveg.com/

  39. Guest says:

    do it

  40. Kristen says:

    I've been vegan for six years and feel committed to it. You have to make your own choices, but if it was up to me, I say go for it!

  41. VegCamDoll says:

    Go you & your wonderful decisions!

  42. Ann says:

    I actually just wrote a column for my university's paper about the benefits of veganism: http://vegansloveuta.tumblr.com/post/14317961808/

    I would recommend Daiya vegan cheese, and Tofutti, So Delicious and Coconut Bliss make good vegan ice cream.
    I also recommend the following blogs: http://vegandad.blogspot.com/ http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/ http://theveganstoner.com/

    Good luck and feel free to contact me if you have questions or need more recipe suggestions!

  43. Alli says:

    Do it!!

  44. Alia says:

    After watching Gary Null on PBS one night when I was 21, I went vegan. I was eating everything before that. Luckily there was a vegan/vegetarian restaurant (probably the only one minus the Krishna buffet) a few blocks from my
    apartment. This was downtown Denver, 2001. I was fortunate to have that spot an a live-in boyfriend who decided to Vegan out with me.

    Fast forward 10 years and I am not vegan, or even vegetarian anymore. But I am returning. More importantly, I am eating better than ever. I am still eating clean. I buy mostly Organic for my home. I use only coconut milk, & almond milk. Unsweetened. I use coconut oil almost exclusively.

    For me, I like the occasional sushi, chicken feta spinach sausage, or mmmmm bacon. But in moderation. Soy = no way Jose. Too many hormone and adrenal issues there. Hydrogenated oils, HFCS, no way. I am working on avoiding cane sugar too.

    It’s important to focus on whole, fresh, organic, clean non-gmo food sources.

    Vegan means you can eat potato chips and junk food. It can still be vegan. Doesn’t mean it is healthy though.

    Some words for to

  45. YES! GO VEGAN for LOVE, Waylon! 🙂
    Love of animals, love of the planet, love of health, love of LIFE! And just for the love of love!
    To me, being vegan is all about becoming a better lover.
    I went all-vegan 8 years ago at a raw foods retreat with Gabriel Cousens (Awesome yogi!) and I've been loving it ever since!

  46. Stacey Taylor says:

    Because the animals need more compassionate humans on their side.

  47. elephantjournal says:

    One question, actually:

    What things that we wouldn't normally think of as non-vegan aren't vegan? Someone just told me beer is made using honey, for example. ~ Waylon

  48. elephantjournal says:

    Well, if we put all those animals in a sanctuary or a bunch of sanctuaries, we'd have to water them, still, no? Confusing stuff!

  49. elephantjournal says:

    But soy is 99% gmo, same with corn…I don't want to start eating a ton of gmos, either?