I read some books, I watched some documentaries. I gathered all kinds of motivation and methods to clean up our eating habits once again and to greatly reduce or eliminate processed foods, sugar, and artificial ingredients from our menu. I was also convinced and inspired to increase plant foods and reduce animal products... and I was thrilled when my little ones began asking for green smoothies instead of less healthy snacks!
And that's where my family landed. They now eat more fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains than ever before... and have greatly reduced their consumption of processed foods, dairy, meat, eggs, sugar, and cooking oils. It makes me happy and I plan their menu accordingly.
I began scrutinizing food labels more than ever, and purchasing far fewer foods in packaging that needed labels! I didn't feel right about discarding foods we had already bought, but as they were finished I replaced them with items that met our new standards. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but soon became quite natural.
But I knew I personally wanted to... needed to... take it a step further.
The information I had discovered convinced me to stop eating and using animal products altogether. For all of the reasons. Because of the animals. For the environment... better known as God's creation, I believe. For my health. For my cow-friend Matilda.
I decided to personally go fully vegan.
All of the reasons work together, I think. And another of my reasons for going vegan, perhaps the best reason of all for me, is simply because I wanted to. It felt right to me. It was a complete change of lifestyle and perspective, and I chose to honor myself by going for it.
So I gave up animal products immediately and as completely as possible. I was nervous to tell my hubby... but he was (and always has been) very supportive of me and my opinions.
I feel quite blessed because I found it very easy to go vegan. We rarely eat out, but I have always been able to find or request a vegan option when we do. I plan the menu for our family, I cook and bake from scratch... I can make whatever adjustments I need for my food to be free of animal products. Or, I often simply make something plant-based for everybody.
The people I have told seem more inquisitive than judgmental, and I always bring a yummy vegan dish to share when we join others for a meal. The animal products and foods I have given up have never tempted me... the thought of consuming them actually makes me rather ill.
These days, I usually refer to my eating style and lifestyle as plant-based vegan because lots of foods I would never eat are free of animal products... I stick with real, whole plant foods and only eat the other vegan stuff upon the rare occasion. Honestly, though, I don't much like labels because then it feels like one has to follow rules, and I base my choice on a mixture of information I trust and my own convictions and preferences.
And it really did work out here on the homestead. Once upon a time, our animals produced a lot of food for us. Meat, milk, eggs. I made butter and cheese every week. I am thankful our animals were well-loved and cared for during those years, I have a heart for the farm animals that aren't.
Nowadays, I guess our critters could be called pets. Nothing is expected of them other than doing what they do in living out their lives. Matilda and the goats aren't bred or milked. Hens grow old whether they lay eggs or not... my family does use our homegrown eggs. I hope to one day welcome and save many more farm animals that need a place to be pampered as they grow old.
So I guess I am an odd duck... a Christian vegan mama-of-many on a homestead in Montana, with a barnyard refuge full of animals and a supportive family that still eats meat sometimes. Be yourself indeed, ha!
Do I hope my family will join me and also go fully vegan? Of course! And lots more people, too! Time will tell, but I don't force my vegan convictions onto my dear family or anyone else. "Do unto others..." No preaching, no apologizing, no explaining, no defending. Just do it and trust God with the results.
Perhaps I will never make a big difference with my choices, but I know I am doing what I can. For animals, for creation, for my health, for the confidence that comes from being myself and living according to my convictions. And I trust that God will use my efforts in whatever way He chooses.
Lord willing, I intend to stay vegan for good.