On June 21st 2011 my husband Mike and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. We had just returned from an amazing week long family trip to Alaska where we had feasted our eyes on some of this planet’s most unbelievable wilderness. We saw glaciers that stretched for dozens of miles, ice fields, Alaskan coastline, and Mt. McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America. We saw moose and their calves, bears, fox, caribou, Dall sheep, bald eagles, golden eagles and marmots all enjoying the massive Denali National Park. We watched in awe as porpoises chased our boat while we were on the lookout for humpback whales, orkas, fin whales, sea lions, puffins, and sea otters. We spotted all of them. In the wild, in their own habitat, in the true wilderness where they belong and where we were privileged just to be welcomed in as guests for a little while.
It was during this trip that I began my reading with The China Study, and perhaps it was the inspiration of the surrounding wilderness that helped me to keep an open mind to new information. Maybe it was gazing in awe at a moose and her newborn calf that made me realize that of course a dairy cow and her calf would have the same bond and instincts. Maybe I was just ready to take off my blinders. Whatever it was, that week of vacation in Alaska was a week that changed my life, and that of my husband as well. We returned from the trip on June 20th and celebrated our anniversary on the 21st. We ate at Abay Ethiopian Restaurant in Pittsburgh and it was our first real vegan meal. It’s a date that will be easy to remember forever, and today’s milestone marks 6 months of the healthiest and most satisfying eating I’ve ever experienced!
What began as a journey focused on improving health and wellness, and a mission to prevent the obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes that runs in my family has turned into a journey with so many unforeseen experiences! If I thought I had a good reason to justify my ‘change’ to myself back then, I now have dozens of good reasons. I find myself really leaning toward the animal rights issues these days. The more I learn, the more passionate I feel.
As we now know, Americans (and those that emulate our diet of wealth and indulgence) have a habit of making meat the center of attention when it comes to mealtime. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner usually feature some kind of meat, eggs, or dairy, and often all three. My old staples are likely similar to many people’s: chicken, fish, occasional beef and bacon, cheese and yogurt. What does that add up to? 3,000 animals. Per person. That’s right, the average American will consume 3,000 animals in their lifetime. That statistic is staggering. And when you consider that every single one is raised in an environment of fear, pain, and torture, it’s even more humbling.
What in the world gives me the right to take the lives of 3,000 animals? Not a dang thing. I can’t change the past, and I don’t dwell in it. All I can do now is focus on living a kinder, happier, healthier way. I’m proud of the major changes I’ve made in the past 6 months, but I’m even more proud of the choices I’m going to continue making for the rest of my life.