When I first became vegetarian, I did so timidly. I didn’t have answers to all of the questions commonly asked of people who give up the traditional American diet. I didn’t have a strong justification for my choice; I told people that I just wanted to eat healthier. Nobody thought I would stick with it.
Now, four years and lots of reading later, I feel so strongly about veganism that I’ve been thinking lately about how best to spread the message. Since I now have a bit of reading time, I checked out Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals from the library and am currently working on Kathy Freston’s Veganist. I honestly believe that if everyone had access to the information in these and other books, there would no reason not to change their behavior. Of course, I am not scheming some sort of vegan revolution. I simply want my friends and family to live long, disease-free lives. I know that if they knew how detrimental the factory farming system was to their health, the environment, and most of all, the animals being processed into the tasty meat products they are attached to, they would want to change . The ultimate question is: What does it take to convince someone to change? Is it savoring vegan chocolate chip cookies just as good as their buttery cousins? Is it knowing the cold, hard facts of factory farming? But it’s easy to ignore or forget something if it’s not in your face. Perhaps the most convincing evidence pertains to health. You can’t see the cow you save by choosing the veggie burger over the Whopper but you can see the drop in cholesterol and blood pressure and feel the vibrant energy of excellent health over time of switching to a plant-based diet. These are tangible changes. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize they aren’t at optimum health until a problem develops.
For now, I will keep baking vegan cookies. The way to a man’s heart (and brain, I hope) is his stomach. Last week my two neighbors were commenting on a terrible vegan cake they had at a party. Of course, they assumed all vegan baked goods are terrible. Well, I set out to prove them wrong. I baked some vegan chocolate chip cookies and delivered them anonymously. Both were very impressed. Mission complete! Now, I take every opportunity to show people how delicious and satisfying vegan food is. I think, slowly, it is working. My brother let me bake his birthday cake and has begun reading Eating Animals. Everyone loved the vegan chocolate cake I made and I had one of those ‘wait, did somebody sneak some dairy products into this when I wasn’t looking?’ moments (you know what I’m talking about!). Change is on the horizon.