I eat plant based, but I’m proud to be vegan.
How I define and explain the difference between the two is that plant based is a way of eating, but vegan is a lifestyle.
As an athlete from a family that has an extensive history of heart disease, I stopped eating animals 31 years ago. But just over six years ago, I went vegan for the animals. Once I learned the cruelty involved with how animals used to produce dairy products (milk, yogurt and cheese) and eggs are treated, I could no longer look the other way. I became vegan overnight.
In time, I switched my products, including my everyday hygiene and household products. I emptied my closet of wool and anything made from animal skin.
As much as I once loved visiting dolphins in seaquariums and the big cats at the zoo, I now understand that any animal held captive in a confined space against their will and/or used for “entertainment” or “sport” is inhumane. Animal testing is as cruel or even worse than breeding and slaughtering animals for food.
Becoming vegan enabled me to align my ethics with how I live, eat, work and play. Unexpectedly, I began to speak for the voiceless by writing and speaking publicly on behalf of animals as an activist and bore witness at vigils in the final hours prior to their slaughter. I even co-founded a company (Vibrant Energy) to publicize, market and promote vegan brands and businesses.
My veganism empowers kindness and compassion in lieu of unconscionable abuse, suffering and killing; benefits the planet and our environment; and improves my health and athletic performance.
On World Vegan Day, and everyday, I’m proud to be vegan.