Why we BECAME vegan.. and why we are NOW!
The two reasons are different could you believe? Even though we have only been vegan for around 18 months at the time of writing this, we both have grown a lot over this time and have had our minds opened to much more about not only the way we eat but about the way we live.
In June of 2017, Katie and I decided to try eating a vegan diet. We didn't put a time frame on it. There was no pressure. We had been influenced by a number of people whom we had only really heard of, but who we now see as the game changers. People like Dr. Michael Greger and his "Daily Dozen", Dr. Neal Barnard and his war on dairy, Patricia Bragg and her longevity research, The Campbells and their clear cut findings illustrated in "The China Study" and the list goes on. The recurrent theme with these people and their messages were of health. HEALTH was the reason we became vegan.
At the start, we were focussed heavily on how the new diet was affecting our bodies and we were encouraged by the initial results. My Psoriasis was less inflamed and I eliminated the need for my assortment of steroid creams and lotions. Katie was experiencing fantastic results with her Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, eradicating both of them (Google either of them and you will see there is no apparent cure!).
As personal trainers though, we were wondering about how well the diet would be at sustaining and maintaining our active lifestyles. We began learning from people like Nimai Delgado, Derek Simnett, Jon Venus, Thomas Tadlock and Naturally Stefanie and found that a well planned vegan diet was actually super effective at producing gains in muscle mass and the losing of fat simultaneously! With these aspects taken care of, we knew that we were doing the right thing by eating this way. However, we thought we loved all animals and knew that our actions would be in alignment with our beliefs after transitioning to a vegan diet, but there was still a disconnect..
In January of this year I tried to watch "Earthlings". A film that exposes the ways that humans exploit animals all around the world. I was only able to watch half of it. I was shocked, disgusted and angry. I didn't give it the attention that I should have though. For the majority of the film, I couldn't physically look at the screen or watched through my hands. I started to think that if it was so difficult to merely witness these scenes, imagine the amount of pain and suffering that the animals actually had to endure. I still have not watched Earthlings in its entirety but is something that I will need to touch back on now that I'm in the position I am today.
I worked at ALDI Food Stores during my University degree and Personal Training study. We began work at 6am, to restock the shelves before opening the store to the customers. It was a rare occasion that I was put in charge of "Short Life" (meat and fish), but the morning after watching Earthlings was when I began to think that I was unfit to participate further in this broken system. Not only was I required to stack the bodies and by-products of those I said care about on the shelves, but I also scanned them through for people to take home on a daily basis. I knew that I no longer wanted to contribute to their suffering. I told my parents that I was quitting ALDI to focus on healing my skin and focus on ShippShape, but that was only half the story.
After leaving, I found myself spending a lot of time on my computer organising the various aspects of a new business. I began to look for people that were already doing similar things for guidance and came across one particular site. I started watching videos from Vegan Physique on YouTube as I found we had similar outlooks on fitness and could see aspects of his business that I would like to emulate. I stumbled upon one of his videos, which explored the reason why he became vegan. Short story, his girlfriend had recommended that he watch Gary Yourofsky's "Best Speech You Will Ever Hear" video, which was ultimately the reasoning behind his transition. I had no idea who this Gary guy was, but decided to take a look at what he had to say. One hour later and the thought of being vegan for health reasons went out the window. This was just the beginning. I started listening to the opinions of other animal rights activists such as James Aspey, Earthling Ed and Joey Carbstrong.
A few months went by and I found myself watching "Dominion", in an auditorium at a Brisbane University with 40 or so other like-minded people, bearing witness to the ways that the animal agriculture industry exploits, tortures and kills animals right here in Australia. It was obvious from my poor attempt at Earthlings that I didn't like watching the horrific scenes, but I wanted to. Their stories deserved to be told and if it were me in that situation, I'd want people who have the power to act to watch too.
For a while there, it was easy to focus on the terrible things that we, as humans, were doing to the innocent beings on this planet: the animals. But it is not a place that you can stay for long. Any new vegan that is doing it for the animals can tell you that. There isn't a day though that I don't think of the animals and hope that they go to a better place. Instead, I try to concentrate on the fact that veganism is one of the fastest growing movements globally. I think of the animals that live with my family and how lucky they are to have escaped the pain. I think of all the animals being rescued by people with the kindest of hearts. I think about how veganism is allowing me to be the best person I can be. Katie and I think this way and channel these thoughts into positive actions. Our specialties lie in fitness and nutrition. If there is any way that we can use this to help people overcome obstacles that prevent them from living this way, you can be sure that we will be doing it!
Everyone's vegan journey is different. Ours began with health and guided us to where we were always meant to be: vegan for the ANIMALS!
Happy World Vegan Day!
A & K
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