July 22, 2012

Why I’m A Vegan. ~ Jenny Manley

Photo: Flickr/Jen and a Camera

“Why are you a vegan?”

I get this question a lot. It’s understandable, because to most people, being a vegan is like getting a sundae without the toppings.

“That’s the best part!” they say, “Why aren’t you eating it?”

Well, imagine for a moment that those rainbow sprinkles, oreo crumbles, chocolate sauce and maraschino cherries are cows, pigs, chickens and fish (I do realize that this makes the sundae idea rather revolting).

Imagine that those animals had a typical life (I’d rather not turn this article into a factory farm expose—but unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard of factory farming and the atrocities that are committed there…if not, Google it with some tissues in hand).

Image: Flickr/jumpinjimmyjava

You know those commercials with the cows roaming in the pastures under a blue sky? Yeah, that’s definitely not the kind of life these animals have.

And then, imagine that after these beautiful animals are inhumanely slaughtered, chopped up and sold in plastic packages as steak, hotdogs, burgers, chicken nuggets, etc., that you pile them on your sundae and slurp them down—only to discover that you are also ingesting pesticides, hormones, saturated fat and some seriously bad karma…kind of unpleasant, right?

And yet, we still continue to eat animals, even though there is a wealth of knowledge out there that supports the idea that eating a plant-based diet is better for the animals, the earth and ourselves.

So what gives? In a nutshell…it’s hard to change.

Most of us have been raised eating animals and accept the idea that these creatures were put on earth solely for our needs. This is a gross misconception, of course—but when you suggest to others that cows, pigs, chickens and other animals are sentient beings who share our passion for life, love and family, they look at you as though you’ve lost your marbles.”What would they do if we didn’t eat them?”  Hmm…live their lives, just like the rest of us!

Here’s something that always baffles me: why is it that we eat some animals and keep other animals as pets? I mean, why don’t we eat dogs, horses and cats?

“Gasp!” cries the carnivore with the bacon burger, “How could you eat your dog?!”

Photo: Bryonie Wise

Well, I couldn’t of course—but I don’t see a difference between a dog and a pig, a horse and a cow or a cat and a chicken.

Several years back, my husband and I visited Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY, which is the permanent home for hundreds of rescued farm animals who would have otherwise been slaughtered. It was a magical experience, to say the least and it was there that I realized, on a deep level, the interconnectedness of all beings.

The cows reminded me of my horses, nuzzling into my arm with their soft muzzles and long whiskers; the sheep leaned against the fence with their eyes closed while my husband scratched behind their velvety ears, the pigs snored loudly and flicked their legs and tails like dogs in dreamland and a mischievous black goat nibbled on my jacket. These animals had been cursed with the titles food animal, farm animal, meat, poultry and bacon—but they were every bit as precious, loving and playful as the animals we call pets.

For me, it’s simple. I don’t want to cause unnecessary suffering.

I have been put on this planet for some reason (or maybe for no reason at all) but while I’m here, enjoying the sun, the rain, the trees, the mountains and the incomprehensible beauty of this world, I will do my best to live peacefully.

The simple fact is that we don’t need to eat meat to survive or to thrive. Sure, back in our caveman days, when we didn’t have tools and didn’t know how to farm the land, gnawing on the leg of a woolly mammoth was probably the best solution—but come on people—let’s evolve already!

Photo: Flickr/PhilliCasablanca

If you could save the lives of nearly one hundred creatures every year, wouldn’t you? If you knew that abstaining from animal products (or at the very least moderating your intake) would make you healthier, wouldn’t you? If you could look through the window of a factory farm where innocent animals were being slaughtered and could proudly say that you weren’t supporting such a horrific industry, wouldn’t you?

Photo: Flickr/The AnimalDay.org

I remember the first time I heard the comparison of slavery to factory farming; it was in a pamphlet by PETA and it really stuck in my head. When you think about how horrible slavery was, don’t you wonder how people could ever do such a thing? But, at the time, slavery was a (generally) accepted practice and it took a long time for people to wake up and realize that it was unethical, inhumane and completely unnecessary. Enter factory farming and the mass murder of billions (ten billion, to be exact) animals—per year—for the purpose of filling our bellies.

I wonder, if a hundred years from now, we’ll look back on eating animals as we do on slavery and wonder why we ever did such a thing?

Please know that my purpose in writing this post is not to make anyone feel guilty; I wanted to share with you my personal reasons for living the way I do. Food is personal and irrevocably rooted in the depths of our individual identities, like politics and religion. Most of my friends eat meat and I love them just the same. I believe that we each must decide which path leads us to a happier life and for me, veganism is the road of my choosing.

If you feel inspired to incorporate some vegetarian meals into your life, that’s great and I encourage you, wholeheartedly, to do so. Not sure where to begin? Try having meatless mondays every week or pick one animal and stop eating it for awhile and see how you feel.

Now that I’ve thoroughly upset you, I will try to make you happy again with an easy recipe!

Kale is synonymous with health nuts who live on bark and berries. I have literally been asked if I eat those things (sigh)—but that’s fine with me because it’s absolutely delicious!

Photo: Flickr/Well of Health

Kale is chock full of antioxidants, cancer preventing flavonoids and vitamins A, K and the mineral iron, as well as having no cholesterol and barely any fat…hooray! Add some nutritional yeast (cheesy yeast rich in B vitamins) and cayenne pepper, bake it in the oven and you’ve got yourself some seriously yummy (and healthy) snacking to do!

Wow your guests with this potato chip alternative and then tell them how it’s so annoying that you just can’t seem to put on any weight!

Cayenne dusted cheesy kale chips

1 bunch curly green kale; the red russian variety works too (remove stems, shred into snacking size, then wash and spin dry)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast (buy in the bulk section of Whole Foods, the code is 5176…aren’t I insane?)
a few pinches of cayenne pepper
1 T extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 325. In a large mixing bowl, mix kale with all ingredients. On a baking sheet (you’ll need at least two sheets—or you can make it in batches), spread the kale in a single layer (a little overlapping is okay). Bake in the oven for ten minutes, stir kale with a wooden spoon, then bake another ten minutes, until kale is crispy but not brown. Serve as a snack or hors d’ouvre for a small gathering of hippie unicorns!

*Please note that the amounts I’ve given are approximations, so use your own judgement. Be careful not to soak the kale in oil—if it gets too wet it won’t crisp in the oven—and a little salt and cayenne go a long way. The only ingredient you don’t need to be conservative with is the nutritional yeast, so load it on!*

*This post was adapted from my blog, www.crumbsonmylaptop.wordpress.com.


I am an aspiring writer and vegan chef. I love riding horses, going to concerts, practicing yoga, hiking with my husband and dog and waking up really early. I love the smell of rain, I believe in unicorns and many of my friends are faeries. I could live on avocados, pickles and bread. I am convinced that sugar is the devil and feeds cancer. On the topic of cancer, I am terrified of my cell phone and only use speaker phone for fear of radiation and eventual tumors in my ears. I consume an extraordinary amount of black tea with soymilk and raw honey. Yes, I know honey isn’t vegan and I’m okay with that. I love to quote movies and always insult others when they incorrectly quote a line.



Editor: Bryonie Wise

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