Earthlings and My Vegan Journey

I don’t like to be a preachy, activist type of vegan and believe that preaching at people really is no way to reach them or make any change in our world, but some things need to be made known and spread around so that people can be made aware. The documentary Earthlings is what I can thank for making me the vegan that I am today and so I have felt the need to share it with the world on my blog.

I first saw this documentary at my brothers apartment back in 2007. He had opened it up on his computer and was showing it to my dad and I as we were wincing in horror. We never watched the whole thing because it was too hard to. I will always remember that day because something inside of me was touched by what I saw and I felt deep down inside the same way I felt as a child when I was beginning to make the connection between the meat on my plate and the cute little farm animals.

It was a feeling of deep sadness and a yearning for change. I didn’t want to be apart of abuse, torture and killing and I understood that even though I wasn’t the ones in the video actually taking my hands to and abusing those animals, my purchasing and consumption of meat, dairy and eggs, is what gave those people the corrupting job of confining, abusing and killing animals each and every single day.

At the time, I was just 18 and after a while of justifying things in my mind and convincing myself that it couldn’t actually be that bad (plus having no idea how to even go vegetarian) I tried to forget about the video and pretend as though I never saw those disturbing images. The problem was that as much as I tried, I couldn’t forget. A few weeks later, I googled the documentary again and tried to watch it online one night with Craig, hiding my face in my hands for most of the first 20 minutes. I couldn’t watch it and neither could Craig. We turned it off and had a talk about the possibility of going vegetarian.

If you have been reading this blog for a while or you know me at all (Hi mom!), you know that I am a very determined person and maybe just a bit of a perfectionist as well. When I set my mind to something I don’t just give it 100%, I give 110%. I wanted so badly to go vegetarian and so I tried to go completely vegetarian overnight.

Well, since I had never even ate healthy before, rarely cooked and relied so heavily on fast food and convenience foods, I of course failed miserably and was back to eating meat within two weeks. I never even bothered to research anything about vegetarian nutrition or how to cook and even though I still felt in my heart like I wanted to give up meat, I figured that it was impossible and that we must just be meant to just eat this way.

Fast forward two years later. I am very much into spirituality and am taking many bible studies and am pondering the bigger picture of life. Craig and I were going to church and I was very interested in living an unselfish, loving and more sacrificial life. I had been praying a lot to God and asking him to help me be less selfish. We were sitting outside on our deck one evening, having a meal of shake n bake chicken breast, rice and corn on the cob when I stared down at my plate and I saw it. Selfishness existed in every meal that I consumed. My eating of animals was one thing that I was doing everyday that led me further away from the peaceful and loving life that I desired for myself, others and our planet.

Going to church, listening to sermons on love and then being a part of this abuse and cruelty every day just didn’t seem to make any sense at all. I realized that I had a long way to go to call myself a true Christian and decided to take my own spiritual path, living and learning. I realized that everything and everyone around me was my teacher and that God was not just in a church building. I devoted my life to finding more ways I could truly be a better person and began living in a way that helps inspire others to want to be more loving and less selfish as well.

I remembered the documentary Earthlings and decided to look it up again. This time I made myself watch it all the way through, even though it was difficult. I knew that because it was so difficult to watch it was speaking to my spirit and that I had to let this compassion and love that I had inside of me finally come out. I went vegan (another drastic decision) overnight but this time I never looked back. I did my research and bought some vegan books and cookbooks, the first being The World Peace Diet and The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes. I also delved into a world of foods that I had never heard of in my life, like quinoa, miso and nutritional yeast. A lot of the time I just made many of my non-vegan meals meatless, like spaghetti with veggies instead of meat, or meatless stir-frys and soups. I also lived off of a lot of peanut butter sandwiches, bowls of cereal with soy milk, fresh fruits and vegetables.

I have had a few slip ups in the last year and 8 months, but I have always come back to veganism. It is what I have found to be best for my physical, spiritual and emotional health and something that I am so grateful to have discovered. I also feel so much more free now that I have awakened to my selfishness and have allowed the compassionate and loving nature that I was born with to emerge and take precedence in my life. I am not ashamed to be a vegan and to share the journey of our vegan family with the world because I know in my heart this is how we were meant to live.

I have learned to cook and bake delicious vegan foods and am learning more and more everyday. This is a definite passion of mine and what I like to think of as my gift to the world. Ever since I was a little girl I used to love taking out my mom’s recipe books and spending time in the kitchen seeing what I could create even if it was just taking cookie cutters to cheese slices and making cheese cookies. I have come a long way since then and now I make some pretty awesome sugar-free vegan treats. A lot better than those processed cheese slice cookies!

Being vegan you do not have to feel deprived. You can meet all of your nutritional needs on a vegan diet and feel many more health benefits, including mental and spiritual benefits as well. Going vegan was the best decision that I have ever made and that is the truth!

Here is the documentary that changed my life forever. If you find it difficult to watch, then I suggest that it is even more important that you do. If you feel like you want to make the decision to go vegetarian or vegan, do not be hard on yourself if you slip up from time to time but do some research before jumping right in. Gather some recipes, purchase some new foods and remember your reasons for making this life-altering change. Just take it one day and one delicious recipe at a time and you will no doubt see changes for the better.

Have you seen the documentary Earthlings? What is your story behind becoming vegetarian or vegan? Please share it in the comment section below. I would love to hear from you! 🙂

Much Love,

14 thoughts on “Earthlings and My Vegan Journey

  1. Tiffany,

    I have watched Earthlings and it truly broke my heart. I knew right then and there the way I was eating was the right thing to do. My story behind becoming vegan? I had tried a vegetarian diet originally to help a client I was working with who was a vegetarian. I have to admit I felt amazing on the diet. But then part of me didn’t believe that I was doing the right thing so I went back to eating meat. I have done a lot of soul searching since then and August of last year after attending Veggie Fest I knew what I had to do. I became vegan and never looked back. I feel so less bogged down if that make sense. I truly feel it has lifted my spirits and each and every day I become more and more content with just being me. It has been one of the most freeing feeling I have ever had. Thanks for the great post! I made the Teriyaki tofu with kale and asparagus last night. All I can say is OMG! I plan to blog about it today. Thanks for another amazing recipe.

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    • Kathy,

      I completely agree with you about feeling less ‘bogged down’. There is a certain lightness that I feel with being vegan. When I started eating some of those animal foods again in the beginning of my pregnancy (cheese and eggs) I felt terrible physically and I felt a heaviness that I don’t feel when I eat a vegan diet. It made me really sick. I was so sad at the time that I slipped up, but now I am glad that I had that little experience to remind me of healthy I feel as a vegan. There truly is a difference!

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  2. Thank you for sharing your story Tiffany. I haven’t watched Earthlings because I know I’ll be floored mentally. I’m still trying to shake all the videos I’ve seen via Vegan/Veggie sites etc… My main reason for going vegan is because of ethical reasons. I go back and forth with the health idea because I start out reading about how Vegan eating is the best for one’s body and then I”m reading the dangers of sodium, sugar and carbs and I get confused. Information overload!

    I’ve noticed that in many Vegan cookbooks there tends to be a high sodium or high sugar content in most recipes. I’ve tried foods I haven’t tried before while venturing into Vegan territory but I still haven’t got creative in the kitchen with cooking. I’ve noticed the healthiest vegans seem to be the ones that aren’t trying to substitute meat products but those that have learned to really create in the kitchen. You’re a great example. 🙂

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    • Suzanne, you make a great point! I was the same way in the beginning with not wanting to eat unhealthily. I wanted to be vegan and I wanted to be healthy. Unlike what most people believe, a vegan diet does not necessarily equate health. If you only were to eat ‘the fakes’ (everything soy) or vegan junk food loaded with sugar and white flour, then you really are no better off. It is so important to incorporate whole grains (like quinoa,, rice and oats) and of course fruits and vegetables. I find I get healthy fats from nuts, avocados and canola, olive or sunflower oil. I never buy the junk food or convenient vegan foods, but instead make my own food using whole, natural ingredients. I would really like to put out a cookbook that uses whole foods to show people that vegan food doesn’t have to be all about substituting your favorite foods just with soy products and that you can eat cookies and cakes made sugar-free and with whole wheat flour. That is what I hope to do someday. For now, I will be in the kitchen. 🙂

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  3. My journey started when i was 11 and we passed a farm and my older brother said (to the cows) “see you at dinner tonight!”. i was horrified and told my mom right there i was never going to eat meat again, and 12 years later i’m still going strong and now a full fledged vegan for 7 of those years. i made my choice before it was really openly supported. i had a hard time being a kid at restaurants, going to bday parties or friends houses. i remember sleeping over at one friends house and their family had nothing vegetarian\vegan to offer (i’m also severely lactose intolerant so switching to vegan was easy for me, i just had to cut out eggs, since i couldnt eat dairy without vomitting an hour later anyway-dairy is my poison) i started bringing my own food to my friends house and thankfully my mother was extremely supportive. She basically cooked meat only once a week at my brothers request, and when he was 15 he moved out, and 2 years after living on his own and eating a diet of mcdonalds at university, he ended up going vegetarian and still is today. both my mom and my brother have thanked me countless times for introducing them o a healthier, less cruel way of eating, ive turned many friends vegetarian also. i would invite friends over to live with me after i moved out for a month, and cooked only vegan food for them. most of them not only felt better, but usually ended up loosing about 10lbs. I have a 2.5 year old boy who i grew healthily on a vegan diet during my pregnancy. I do give him meat on occasion, just to give him the opportunity to choose for himself. I wont be shy about giving him my reasons for being vegan, nor will i be shy about showing him many of the videos i have seen.
    now growing baby #2 i still get questions about if i’m going to eat meat to help my baby grow. i brush it off as i know what i’m eating is most likely healthier than what they’re eating! like you i live to bake and cook, its been a passion of mine since i was a little girl. i’ve always made time to bake with my son a few days a week, and we cook dinner together every night too, he loves it. he’s the only 2.5 year old i know who picks through his pasta for all the green veggies before reluctantly eating the pasta. hes also the only 2.5 year old i know who thinks cherry tomatoes are a special treat. so glad to have found your page, its giving us so many great ideas and i’m learning some new tricks! can’t wait to try fondant on a cake soon! i’ve been waiting for a fondant recipe like yours!
    cheers. 🙂

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    • I sometimes worry about my kids too missing out on things in life, but we also let them have non-vegan foods at family and friends places, we just do not purchase it ourselves. At Easter they got chocolates and at birthday parties they have cake and ice cream.I never preach at them about it, but my oldest understands where those foods come from. I think it is important to be flexible with children and to never force any beliefs on them or make them feel bad about what they eat or don’t eat. I am especially conscious of this because I have had struggles with eating since I was a child. My husband and I are vegan and so those are the foods that they will grow up eating and seeing as normal, but someday they can make their own informed choice about what they want to do.

      I love your story Jill. The fact that you set the example for your family and friends is great! It is hard to deal with criticism but now I am beginning to be more confident as well because I know that this is what works for me. I don’t try to make people change their diets so I think that vegans deserve the same respect. We all have choices. I am excited to have this baby and see how healthy she will be. I know that she is already because she kicks so much all of the time! My youngest was breastfed for 21 months so she has never really had anything but a vegan diet her whole life and she has always been a very healthy child. Your son sounds so cute! Autumn always asks what the big ‘M’ is when we are in the city. She has no clue what McDonalds even is. Our girls also love fruit and veggies and little Kesa loves almonds and cashews. Sounds like you have a very happy family!

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  4. I suppose my journey began when I was 13 and saw a documentary that showed animal abuse at the hands of humans. It left me in tears and ashamed of my species. I promptly told my parents that I no longer wanted to eat animals, and they humored me for about a week before I was told that I was to eat what they put in front of me. So I buried the feelings and complied. Although I continued to eat meat for the next 20 years, I always had difficulty with it.

    I couldn’t tell you what triggered it for me. There wasn’t one of those “Ah-Ha” moments that I keep hearing about. Perhaps just years of built up guilt. But one day I looked at the chicken breast I was about to eat, and said “I don’t have to do this anymore.” In a family full of “Foodies” who love meat, I felt like I was coming out to them, when I told them I was a vegetarian. “Don’t worry,” I told them, “I’m not going to become one of those vegan extremist.” I was surprised when my boyfriend followed me down the path (he loved McDonald’s)… I started reading, learning, and watching more and more about animal welfare issues. I spend one whole weekend glued to my computer surfing, one thing would lead me to another, and by the end of it I felt like I needed to do more and quietly avoided dairy and eggs. I knew Dave (my boyfriend) would need to find his way on his own. Within a year, he told me that we needed to go vegan. It’s been 2 years, and we never looked back.

    Yes, I too feel a weight has been lifted, and lighter in spirit. But much of that has been replaced with the burden of knowledge and the responsibility I feel to help those who suffer… Would I ever, consider going back to the way things were? Not for a second, not even if I could… But sometimes, I remember the bliss of ignorance.

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    • I know exactly what you mean about the bliss of ignorance. I feel that way a lot of the time too, especially when I see people shopping for their groceries or eating at a restaurant but then I see how beautiful and peaceful our life together is. I remember that I had those times and it wasn’t all that fun. I think about how my girls will not have so many memories of restaurants, but they will remember that their mom cooked and baked them delicious things and all of the time they spent in the kitchen helping. When I was first pregnant and afraid of what people might think of my vegan diet I tried to re-introduce eggs and cheese and I couldn’t do it. I felt sick and I felt bad because I knew I didn’t need them. Now I feel so healthy and am walking an hour (4.2 miles) everyday at 32 weeks pregnant.

      When I made my decision to go vegan, Craig was right on board with me! He had always felt the same way growing up and him and I never really ate that much meat as it was except for chicken breasts because since I was a little girl I could never eat meat with any bones or anything that resembled an animal. I mostly ate chicken fingers and hotdogs and things. When I began cooking vegan he was very happy and still is, but he does think that it would be difficult for him to do on his own with working full-time. I guess that there is a lot of cooking involved with being vegan if you want to be healthy, but I love knowing what goes into my food and spending that time everyday to make meals that we can sit down together and enjoy.

      Thanks for your comment! 🙂

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  5. When I started watching I could barely take it, I was so close to crying, you cannot imagine. But I made myself watch the whole thing and chose then and there I would become vegan. This was yesterday. I wanted to eat the things I had left in the fridge, but meat as well as milk literally make me sick now. Since I also don´t eat processed sugar its going to take some time until I find good recipes, especially for fluffy cakes. If you know sugarfree, vegan recipe-pages, please let me know. I don´t know any vegans I could ask, so I hope you can help 🙂

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    • 99% of the recipes on this blog are sugar-free (except for my birthday cake fondant recipe and my cinnamon rolls)! I use pure maple syrup in place of sugar in my baking for cookies, cakes, muffins and quick breads. All of which are really yummy and healthy! The recipes are also made with whole wheat flour instead of white flour. I don’t know of any vegan sugar free or many whole wheat vegan recipes either, so that is why I started making them. I commend you on your decision to go vegan. It may be hard to live this lifestyle, just remember your reasons for why you want to be vegan above convenience or other people’s opinions about it. I hope that you will find this blog helpful to you on your journey. 🙂

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  6. Also I get what you mean with being too preachy. It was (and is) very hard for me not to tell everybody I meet to watch the movie. It has been a revelation for me, but everybody´s still their own and can decide freely. Which is a good thing. I just wish everybody would think about it at least as much as to know what they are supporting by consuming milk and dairy. I can´t make everybody become vegan but god do I wish I could.

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  7. Pingback: Trial and error [this is gonna be fun] « Move. Eat. Breathe.

  8. I have never watched earthlings before but I have downloaded it and am gonna work up the courage to watch it! I always new since I was a child that I wasn’t ok with eating meat! My whole life I rarely able to force it down the only time I really ate it was when it was in the form of fast food, then one day I read the book skinny bitch and was floored by what was happening in the meat industry and what meat and dairy can do to your body and I told my husband about what I had read and we started to consider changing what we ate. But the big change happened the day my son got in trouble for pulling one of our dogs tails and he looked at me in response and said that he didn’t understand why he was in trouble because we cook meat ever day for dinner and that’s hurting animals and that did it for us we have never looked back since

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