December 4, 2012 started like any other Tuesday. As I made the trek from Knoxville to Jefferson City, I had no idea that a major lifestyle change would begin that day.
As I sang along to the country tunes blaring from my radio, I glanced to my right and saw an 18-wheeler packed from front to back and top to bottom with live chickens – hundreds if not thousands of them! The chickens were crammed into small wire cages and were exposed to freezing temperatures. The truck had a Koch Foods logo on the side, so it was evident that these chickens were on their way to be massacred. I have been an animal lover my entire life, and an avid supporter of animal welfare organizations for many years, but I was now facing the harsh reality that I was a hypocrite. My mind turned to my many visits to Chick-Fil-A, and my eyes filled with tears as I watched those chickens being carried to their deaths. I made the decision to become a vegetarian at that very moment.
The first month was a bit of a struggle, and I relapsed a couple of times. Then I watched a documentary called “Vegucated”. The documentary promoted a vegan lifestyle, which I had never before considered. I had no idea that dairy cows and chickens faced such horrid conditions. By the end of that movie, I had made the decision to go a step further in my vegetarian lifestyle. I am happy to say that I am now a vegan. I choose not to eat meat, eggs, or dairy products.
The transition to veganism was extremely challenging. Eggs and milk are hidden in so many products! I have given up restaurant dining in favor of making my own meals at home where I am in full control of what I eat. I have begun shopping at health food stores that have a large selection of vegan friendly products. I have discovered that the healthier you eat, the more expensive it is. Perhaps this is the reason for America’s obesity epidemic.
In complete honesty, I must disclose that there is one non-vegan food that has yet to be removed from my diet. From time to time, I eat a Morningstar Farms veggie corn dog. I have yet to find a suitable vegan alternative for this product, so I may need to develop my own recipe.
I tried vegetarianism for six months a few years ago, but I gave up when my body began to suffer from vitamin deficiencies. This time around I’m doing my homework. I’ve been reading books about nutrition, and I’ve found an excellent vegan multivitamin. I also just ordered some MarzSprays nutritional supplements. I’ve always had difficulty swallowing pills, so it’s great to have some spray options available!
I’ve been living this new lifestyle for a few months now, and it feels great. Thoughts of meat, dairy, and eggs now make me nauseous, so I’m not even tempted. And the best part of all is that I have managed to align my lifestyle with my beliefs.
Statistics show that a vegetarian saves approximately 95 lives per year. I hope that I live long enough to redeem myself for all those chickens aboard the Koch Foods truck that fateful day. You may think they gave their lives for our indulgence. But I know they gave their lives to change mine, and to save so many others. Their sacrifice will not be in vain.