May 18, 2016 by Virginia James
Hi! How are you doing today? So I decided to start doing these journal entries. Weird, I know, but I’ve been meaning to just sit down and write something. Then I thought, why not share this with you?
In case you JUST discovered my blog, I would like to give myself a quick introduction!
My name is Virginia James and I have a mild addiction to weightlifting, and a stronger addiction to living a Vegan lifestyle. I’ve answered quite a bit of questions regarding veganism in my Plant-Based Q&A, but I never really got to explain WHY I’ve made this change.
I grew up in Southern California (near where I reside now), with my parents raising (some) animals for food. My mistake was that I was always curious about animals. I would pet them, and play with them, but I never saw any of them get hurt- and so I had a disconnection with the food on my plate and how it got there.
As I got older, my dad started killing our chickens and allowing me to watch. I was five years old. I couldn’t handle it. I had played with those chickens, named them even -though no one else used the names I gave them – I guess they knew better. I could not grasp the concept of caring for an animal for so long only to slaughter it. It seemed barbaric to eat one’s own pet. Then I reflected towards farms… they must do this too, only they do it on a global scale- and they get paid to do it. I would look over at my dog and wonder what it would be like if we lived in a society where we ate dogs instead of chickens… how would that be fair?
Because of that experience, I decided I would go vegetarian at the ripe old age of 5. That’s right. FIVE. Now, living in a traditional Mexican household, it was unheard of to not eat at very least fish meat. Mom was confused by it. Dad was more angry about it. He worked hard to earn money to buy us food (meat) -why was it okay for me to take that for granted?
Needless to say, Mom and Dad didn’t know exactly what a vegetarian diet really called for. They fed me a salad for every meal. Every day. Since I wasn’t get a variety of fruits/veggies, I became nutrient deficient. I was forced back into meat eating habits because my parents didn’t know what to make for me. I don’t blame them. They were good parents, who at least made the attempt to fit myself into my new lifestyle. Looking back at it now, I am still actually surprised they even tried. But it just didn’t workout. Mom and Dad never really did any research behind the vegetarian nutrition, so it wasn’t a surprise that I couldn’t sustain myself in that lifestyle.
Flash forward to my teen years. High school was bitter sweet. I loved being with my friends but at the same time hated the way we were treated. Teenagers can be mean to one another – it’s a strange sort of ritual that never seems to leave any type of school environment. Anyway, this was when I got my first job, ironically, at Kentucky Fried Chicken. During training, I had to memorize the menu of a place where I hardly ate. Then I began to feel disgusted by the chicken meat there. The preparation and the cooking process was (to me) unsanitary. Cockroaches and bugs would fall into the fryer and no one seemed to care. Scraps of leftover meat were used to fill the chicken pot pies. The soda machine was rarely cleaned, and you could often smell the mold when refilling the ice. It was simply the worst job I’ve ever had. Since they didn’t have a break room or a refrigerator that I could use to store my lunch, I was forced to eat from their menu. I ended up only eating the cole slaw and potato wedges every day. Mom and Dad loved it because at the end of the day, I would always bring some fried chicken home-the very chicken I was disgusted to touch. I lost weight to the point where my family thought I was malnourished. …and because the last time that happened, I was told me to eat more meat, I began again to eat red meat again.
After graduation, I decided there must be something I’m doing wrong when I do go vegetarian, so I started studying nutrition in college. Everything I learned in school seemed slightly parallel to what I assumed it would be. It was a very common-sense. I learned that all doctors are not required to take a large amount of nutrition classes to earn their degree.. in fact, only a teensy small percentage of their entire curriculum is dedicated to nutrition. They are designed to prescribe medication, not nutritional remedies. I learned that you can have a vegetarian diet and not be nutrient deficient. So I went vegetarian once more.
I ate more legumes, took my B-12 vitamins, had more fruits and tons of grains, lots of milk, cheese, and eggs. I felt great! Energetic! Stronger! But I was getting crazy migraines. Guess what the doctor said? Eat more meat. So I did. The migraines only got worse. At least twice per week. And doctors simply could not find the source of my pain. It got to the point where I had to miss celebrating Halloween (my favorite holiday) because of these darn migraines!!
Fast forward to 2016. Upon realizing that the nutrition program in college I was taking was heavily funded by the meat and dairy industry, I dropped out. There was no point in studying something that felt wrong. I knew there had to be a way to eat sustainably, without funding the death, rape and torture of animals, all while being healthy and getting all my nutrients. So I did my own research. By myself. No professors. No Doctors. Just me. I made sure to look at research papers from universities and doctors who did their own studies, while looking at sources to make sure I’m getting information from the right places. And with help of my research, and watching many educational documentaries… I decided it was in my (and the planet’s) best interest to go completely Vegan. Yep. That V-word that everyone hates.
Turns out, going vegan was the best thing I could have done. I am able to gain more strength and endurance in my workouts. My skin is replenished without using harsh beauty products. Cutting dairy and eggs from my diet help to completely get rid of my migraines. I don’t even get slight headaches any more.
So why is this better for me than being vegetarian? Eggs, dairy, cheese, butter… all secretions of animals were taken out of my diet and it made me feel amazing. This is just a journal log so I will get into details on why those are all bad for you in a future article. But to you, I say, do your own research – like I did. The meat and dairy industries are disgusting, and do not deserve to be funded. They give us ill health. They make us tired. Give (me anyway) migraines. Why would I want to continue eating something that makes me feel like shit?
While eating vegan the right way, I have gotten all of the nutrients and vitamins I need. I’ve eaten more as a vegan than I ever have as a vegetarian! Many people think that vegans are much more limited than vegetarians… on the contrary, veganism has opened the door to a whole new world of foods I’ve never even heard of. It’s just an amazing journey and I’m loving every minute of it! 🙂