Disclaimer: not all vegans are hippies, hipsters, caucasian, naturists, activists, or 'one with the earth' (whatever that means). And no, most vegans do not only eat lettuce and bananas.

So being a vegan – specifically a Christian vegan – isn't the same as the world's definition. 

The vegans I know, have watched online (on Youtube), and have vegan blogs would describe veganism as a lifestyle of non-violence, non-cruelty, and ethicality. Pretty self-explanatory. Non-violence: not hurting living beings. Non-cruelty: showing mercy to animals and treating them with respect and love. Ethicality: being a conscious consumer (e.g. buying items that are fair-trade); realizing what you put your money into results in a demand for it. 

Now, even if you aren't Christian or spiritual for that matter, don't dismiss this article as a load of religious rambling. 

Being a vegetarian/vegan for a total of two years together, I really (and I mean really) don't like the taste of meat. It grosses me out. If I were to accidentally eat meat, I'd be gagging as a reflex. I see meat as what it is: essentially, a rotting carcass of a dead (usually murdered) animal. When I picture beef, chicken, pork, lamb, and other animals people eat, I see the blood oozing down their necks and out of their mouths after they've been slaughtered. When I picture dairy, I see bubbling cow pus, dairy farmers putting bull semen into a female cow to produce more milk, and people using the cow as a milk machine for monetary gain. When I picture eggs, I see the baby chicks that were (unfortunately) male being sorted on a conveyer belt in its way to a shredder.

On another note, eating meat puts you at a higher risk of food borne illness (i.e. salmonella). Bleh, no thanks.

Think about what's generally in meat: protein, iron, cholesterol, saturated fat, magnesium, hormones, blood cells, vitamin B6/B12, potassium, omega-3s (in some meats), and mono-saturated fat. This is what a simple google search will tell you. Out of all these nutritional components, only protein, iron, magnesium, vitamin B6/B12, potassium, and omega-3s are good for you. The rest will clog your arteries over time, leading to heart disease. Who has the largest number of deaths relating to hear disease? America! Who eats the most amount of meat in the world? America! (This is also google-able if you think I'm an uncredible source.)

Anyway, since we're talking about Christian veganism here: how do animals look in the Bible? According to the Bible, God created animals to be helpers (Genesis 2:18-20). All animals, including mammals, fish, bugs, and birds. (Side note: if you didn't take Grade 11 Biology, maybe you're wondering why I'm referring to bugs as animals. They are! 'Animal' is a broad term that encapsulates a lot of species. Yay science!)

Oh, but wait. You can find all of these nutrients from plant-based foods too...and I don't mean only from vegetables and fruits. Beans, legumes, grains, and nuts are still vegan too. Protein? Beans, tofu, whole grains, etc. Iron? Blackstrap molasses, nuts, dark leafy greens, many vegetables, etc. Magnesium? Grains, dark leafy greens, fruit, beans, tofu, nuts, etc. Vitamin B6/B12? Nutritional yeast (cheesy-tasting inactive yeast), meat substitutes, fortified plant-based milks (soy/cashew/almond/rice/coconut/peas/the list goes on), etc. Potassium? Potatoes, bananas, dark leafy greens, beans, carrots, etc. Omega 3? Flax, hemp, chia seeds, edamame, fortified plant-based milks, pecans, tofu, etc.

You may be thinking about what you can eat if you did go vegan. You might think, "but these foods are so bland, restrictive, and boring to eat."

Let me tell you a secret: anything you eat as a non-vegan can be made vegan. Anything. Do yourself a favour and check out Minimalist Bakerhotforfoodoh she glowsVegan RichaohmyveggiesThe Viet VeganVegan Yack Attack (love the irony), I Love VeganThe Colorful KitchenSimple Vegan Blogcacanonuts, and This Rawsome Vegan Life (c'mon, I did all the damn research for you already). Then say it to my face that vegan food is bland, restrictive, or boring to eat. Or hard to eat. Right now, in 2016 and beyond, is the easiest time to eat vegan in all of human history!

Let's talk ethics. My view of the ethical side of veganism is similar to the world's...but not quite. Similar to other vegans, I think that the meat industry exploits animals for profit, that the solution to many environmental and famine-related problems can be solved with veganism, and that it is healthier to be vegan than any other (for lack of a better term) diet. There are major differences I've noted when I compare my beliefs with a secular vegan's beliefs. I see animals not as equals to humans, but as living beings that are a part of God's creation. As for whether we should eat them or not, I accept that choosing to eat meat or not to eat meat is a preference.

The Bible says that all food is made clean after the death and resurrection of Jesus (Mark 10:15). So yes, I agree with meat eaters that it is not a sin to eat meat. However, it's ignorance. It's ignorance towards the animal's will to live, the pain they go through, and the reason they die. If you knew how the animals on your dinner plate lived and were killed before you ate them, I guarantee that you will not look at meat and animals the same way. Please realize that in most cases, the animals' existence and life purpose was manufactured for consumers. These living beings are made into products for us to buy, equivalent to a box of markers or a dresser.

I get asked a lot if I'd still eat free-range, 'humane', farm-raised animals and animal-related products, but my answer is still a firm, resounding no. No matter how well the animal was treated before the farmers killed it, they still killed it. Some killing methods that are used on the animal include slitting their throats and letting them bleed to death, full on beheading them, or putting them in gas chambers. No matter how you put it, killing a living being who wants to live is never humane. But you don't need me to point that out for you; it's right in front of you when you eat your beef burger or grilled chicken sandwich.

This topic makes me sick to my stomach. I'm cringing as I think about all the unnecessary slaughter, so I'll end this post with a question: now that you know these facts, are you still going to live ignorantly because it's "easier to", it's "what we've been doing for centuries", or whatever excuse you have in mind?

This post (it's a low-key rant) is dedicated to my meat-eating friends, fellow Christians, fellow vegans, and fellow Christian vegans (I'm convinced we are a rare specimen).

Written by a plant-fueled human.