Being Vegan, Vegan Being: Andra Carlson – We Choose What We Bring Into Our Lives. So Bring Love.

Years ago I attended a sustainability conference held by the UC’s in Santa Barbara. Guest Speakers and Climate Scientists discussed the environmental impact of animal agriculture on the planet and it was mind-opening. Vendors had tables sharing information and it was shocking to me. For a long time, I had been tormented by the knowledge that animals suffer so much but thought that eating meat was necessary for my health so I tried to go through “humanely” run farms even though I knew there was no humane way to raise and kill animals for food. At this conference, I was presented with another level of information that impacted all life on this planet. We were killing our planet, our air, and our water for momentary tastes of cheeseburgers, chicken, or bacon. For a moment of taste, we were sacrificing several lifetimes. They feed us vegan food at the conference and it was amazing. This was an introduction to an alternative that I hadn’t been exposed to before. I loved the food. As soon as I returned home from the conference, I gave my neighbors any of the animal products I would have otherwise thrown away and I went fully vegan from that point on.

What happened after I became Vegan amazed me. I had thought I would sacrifice my health with this diet change, but the opposite happened. I had always throughout my life been anemic and low in vitamin D. I had to take supplements and had a prescription iron that I took and was still always low on my yearly blood tests to check up on my health. Three months after going vegan I had my annual exam and for the first time in my life, my blood tests were perfect! My friend who had just graduated from the medical school said that it made sense because I had cleared out my arteries and stopped hardening them with meat and dairy so vitamins could properly percolate into my system. My skin started getting brighter, my energy increased, my eyes started to look clearer and a lighter blue and my body started to process food more efficiently. Instead of feeling tired after meals, a state I used to call a food coma, I started getting immediate energy from my food.  

I started to research vegan recipes and signed up for vegan cooking classes. I ordered vegan cookbooks and followed blogs and Instagram like nutrition_facts_org, Hot For Food by Lauren Toyota, Mississippi Vegan, and Bosh. I followed vegan bodybuilders on Instagram like Nimai Delgado and Torre Washington who shared their diets and workout tips. I bought the online workout program from Sculpted Vegan and followed all of her supplement advice and routines at the gym. Once I integrated these influences into my life I started to get in better shape with less effort than I ever had in the past. I realized that I could eat more carbs and that my body wouldn’t hold onto them as much. My work out time was way less with better results. I started eating things I had cut out before like grilled cheese sandwiches, donuts, and street fair food and wouldn’t gain the weight I had from eating junk food from animal products. Granted I don’t eat junk food every day and believe it’s better to make healthy choices, but I was learning that plant-based junk food wasn’t as fattening or as bad as animal products had been for me.

Since this change had changed my life in so many incredible ways I wanted to start sharing what I loved about veganism and started to share on social media my favorite foods and vegan information @veganShugah on Instagram. I wanted to share my life and always represent cruelty-free options. I whole-heartedly believe now that it’s the most important thing we can do. People are lead by habit or misinformation from huge companies who profit off of their not knowing any better. I try not to judge too harshly because I was uniformed in the past too and made bad decisions about animal products.

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I believe more than ever that the Buddhist saying that, “suffering begets suffering” is 100% true. I was witnessing it all around me and within myself. The inverse of that famous saying was becoming true in my life. I felt so much benefit from not paying into suffering and destruction. This choice of veganism brought me incredible health, energy, and more joy.

Sometimes it’s hard to not judge people who say they love animals while I know they pay into so much suffering or to hear people talk about how sustainable they are while they pay into one of the most destructive industries for the planet for every meal. I’ve learned that sharing more positive information gets better results and I remind myself that they are on a journey and I was on their path in life before I learned what I did.

So many friends reach out to me now and tell me that they are going vegan or more plant-based and ask for recipes or suggestions and this lights up my days. I absolutely love sharing information about vegan resources. I start to tag them on my favorite Instagram influencers. I share recipe sites and send cookbook ideas. I tell them to watch the movie Game Changers and Forks over Knives. We are all connected in this world and our future generations will share in the fate we set up for them if we don’t make better choices. The World is becoming aware and waking up to the knowledge that will help to save their futures.

There is a prevailing truth in the World and we choose what we bring into our own lives. Love begets love just as suffering begets suffering. I hope people more quickly adopt a cruelty-free vegan lifestyle. I hope they choose love over suffering.

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