By Natalie Blanton
I am all for reinventing oneself, I fully believe in self-care and homework of the soul and goals. If we do not continually strive to do better for ourselves, in tandem, with progressing our communities, environments, and our planet — what are we doing with this one life?
As we say farewell to the brutally tough year that 2016 has been — I know many of us are mentally preparing for a New Year/New You. New Year’s Resolutions are brilliant, sure, but why not re-commit to serving yourself, and the world around you, every single day? Volunteering, donating, showing up are all amazing gestures — but I want to remind you that the single greatest act you can do, everyday, with the most immense impact — is to reduce, if not eliminate, your consumption of meat, dairy, eggs, and fish, for the health, well-being and longevity of yourself, the animals, and this remarkable planet. I deem 2017 the year of the vegan — a year of compassion, a counter-action to all of the hate, fear, and pain that occurred in 2016. I am hopeful that we will continue to see and feel more momentum in the plant-based and animal rights movements.
Whether you are environmentally aware/concerned/anxious [as we should all be], you think pigs are too cute to eat [which they are], you know meat is horrible for your health, or the idea of eating dead animals has just never been appetizing — whatever the reason may be for you making this paradigm shift — you are welcome here. And that is the beauty of this individual activism, and voting/raising your voice at every meal, and with every decision made revolving around consumption. I urge you to craft your own vegan identity. Which can shift and change as you grow more in this vein of compassionate living. The process and snowball-effect that takes place when you simply think-through your consumption habits is incredible. A basic shift toward a veggie burger rather than cow flesh, will quickly make you more aware how these simple choices of meals, or not-tested-on-animals/cruelty-free household products and cosmetics, or cutting out the more hidden animal by-products, such as honey or gelatin, have huge, lasting, and undeniable impacts.
Be one less person harming animals and this planet.
Commit to eating your ethics — for yourself, the animals, and the planet this year.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you along your herbivorous resolution/journey:
- Further educate yourself. Watch the films (Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy, Earthlings, etc.), utilize Vegan Apps or YouTube Channels for many different perspectives on Veganism, and the issues that have awoken so many of us.
- Make a plan. Everyone is different! Some individuals go vegan overnight — cold tofurkey if you will. Some of us, like myself, took the gradual route and utilized the “crowd out, not cut out” mentality. Start somewhere: Meatless Monday’s or choose 2 days a week you eat all plant-based. As you introduce more delicious plant-based foods, animal products will disappear off of your plate and you will begin to feel cleaner and better! Transitions are always rough on our bodies — so give yourself time, do your best, be gentle with your body, if you are active — eat more calories, and drink lots of water, always!
- Seek out and join community vegan social media groups, and through those, look for vegan meet ups in your area — like-minded individuals can be so helpful in this individual quest. Here is the local SLC Vegan Facebook group!
- Seek out a Vegan mentor — through community boards on Facebook (as aforementioned) or through any of us at Sage Mountain!
- Go to or organize plant-powered potlucks, or cook for your omnivorous friends!
- Write letters to your local leadership — urging them to end speciesism and let animals be — in all of their different, natural ways, or organize/attend a protest!
- Be an example for others around you! Stay present with your friends and family who may be skeptical of your shift of diet/ethics. If you stay kind and simply encourage others to eat less animals and more plants — my, what marvelous things can happen! Offer to cook with your community to show that vegan food does taste amazing.
Do YOUR best. Because:
Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life.
We are here for just a spec of time. Leave your own legacy of compassion for others. Simply, start with today.
Together, let’s make 2017 the year of altruism and compassion.
Author note: many of these tips were included in Sage Mountain co-founder, Lauren Lockey and the author, Natalie Blanton’s SLC Veg Fest 2016 talk “Veganism 101” — view their presentation here.