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I thought it was appropriate during VeganMoFo to share my story about my journey to veganism. I am often asked why I do not eat animals and the short answer is because I love animals, but here is the longer version.

I did not start out as a vegan. I was first vegetarian, the transitioned to a vegan.

I had felt guilty about eating animals for a LONG time, years even. I proclaimed to be an animal lover. I am a crazy dog lady and would feel the conflict between letting one type of animal sleep with me, yet eating another. How were they different?

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Like many people, I tried to push these thoughts out of mind. I never had to kill my own food, nor see it in it’s unpackaged form, so it was easy to put distance between the realities of how a living creature made it’s way to my plate.

From 2001-2005, I worked at Clark’s Nutritional Centers. I learned so much in my years there, mostly about the connection between what I ate and my health. I had sadly never given this much thought before. More and more, I felt so much guilt for continuing to eat animals. I started trying to only eat “free-range, grass fed” products, but even that did not sit well with me.

One day, in March 2006, I decided I was not going to eat meat that day. That extended into a week, which extended into a month, which extended into a few months and I finally realized I would never eat meat again. I did not miss or crave it and turning vegetarian was relatively easy.

I was a junk food vegetarian, for a while. I mostly ate fake meat products and it was still relatively easy to eat out, I still enjoyed fatty, convenient, cheese laden dishes. Even though I was not at my healthiest, I felt so much better ethically. I got rid of so much guilt and was able to eliminate my pet/plate complex.

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I started doing more research on vegetarianism and found so many helpful blogs along the way, that taught me a great deal. They pointed me in the direction of other cookbooks, websites, books and documentaries that furthered solidified my decision. Some of my favorite cookbooks that I discovered were by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero (Veganomicon changed my life). I am infinitely grateful that they taught me how to cook and realize all the possibilities in meals without animals.

The more I learned, the stronger I felt in my decision. I learned more about the horrors of factory farming and treatment of factory animals. I learned about the environmental impacts of factory farming. I learned about the negative health effects that are associated with a diet high in animal protein. I learned about the connection between how I ate and my body, emotions, heart, soul and mind.

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I have never again craved meat, and I can pretty assuredly say that I will never eat it again (of course, I cannot answer to the deserted island  “what ifs.” I do not know why people love posing that scenario to vegans.).

One of the books I read during this time was Skinny Bitch, and so began my journey to veganism…..

Check back for my Part 2 next week….