I think the most annoying part about being a vegan or choosing a plant-based diet is the assumption that you’re judgmental of meat-eaters. We’re not all that way. I’ve seen it, granted. Some vegans really go hard for their beliefs. They want to shame you for your decision to consume flesh, hold this I’m-better-than-you imaginary cloud over you, and maintain a self-righteous aura as if their crap doesn’t stink too. But coming from a household of a suffocating religious lifestyle allowed me to accept the pain that judging another for their choices could bring.

I have no desire to go into a full-blown conversation about my decision to convert my eating habits to a plant-based diet. I have zero desire to debate with anyone on why not eating meat is boring or time-consuming. I couldn’t care less about convincing others to do the same when the discussion is really just an argumentative platform for why any other of my vices is just as bad. Folks will really go to great lengths to defend themselves, won’t they?

It’s beyond annoying.

If someone asks, then I’ll disclose. My reason for doing so has a spiritual basis. After learning about the torture methods that meat is produced under and the harsh conditions our demand for their flesh has created for their lives, I couldn’t in my good conscience be ok with it. But I’m not judging you if you don’t. In the words of Jay-Z, “What you eat don’t make me shit.”

In all fairness, I do care about awareness. I don’t mind sharing – if my opinion is asked – but I don’t offer it voluntarily. At this very moment, my barber is reading The Happy Vegan, by Russell Simmons, which I let him borrow at his request. When the topic of food came up, breakfast specifically, he asked if I liked eggs because a spot he goes to every morning has “the best eggs,” to which I simply replied, “Oh, ok. Nah, I don’t eat eggs.” He followed up with “Oh! You don’t eat meat at all?” and when I answered no he wanted to know more.

I keep my explanations very brief. I haven’t been a vegan for long, number one, and no one wants a lecture on diet when chopping up casual conversation (and besides, the introvert in me gets extremely drained by small talk). I prefer to direct people toward the truth and let them take their own action.

At the end of the day, my decision is really more about awareness.

And when you know better, you should do better. Period.

To me, being a vegan is about compassion. And that’s not to say that meat-eaters are not compassionate. I’ll be hitting a year on my official vegan journey next month, which wasn’t easy. At first, I did it because the guy I was dating wanted to. And it was for the wrong reason so it didn’t stick. When we broke up I ran to a basket of lemon pepper wings and fried fish!

As I learned about the meat-processing industry, how our Earth is changing rapidly because of our over-consumption of and demand for meat, and the treatment of animals I was overwhelmed with sadness and guilt. No, I can’t save the ribeye that’s already packaged, or return the milk to the mother of someone’s now burger, but I could control my own carbon print in this world.

We all start somewhere. And sometimes we have setbacks. What’s important is your why, and remembering that everyone has their own truth.

I’ve come a long way from the woman I was ten years ago, and I’m sure the next ten years I’ll be able to say the same thing. But the only person we are required to hold accountable is ourself.

Judgment is neither your job nor your responsibility. This world would be such a better place if everyone was more gentle with one another. I’m an avid supporter of “Do you!” provided such doing doesn’t harm you or others. And you’re welcome to take that however it best pleases your palate.

Be easy.

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