Is veganism for you?
Veganism is more than a diet—it's truly a way of life. It requires a lot of compassion, effort and time. To be a vegan is to refrain from using and eating animal products as an act of kindness towards the environment, all its critters and the human body.
Think about bumblebees. These striped, winged insects work hard just as we do. They have families, friends and homes atop tree branches. They also produce sweet, sticky honey that some humans love to consume along with beeswax, which is normally found in lip balm. Veganism is to not eat that honey or use that wax out of respect for the hard work of the bumblebee or the goodness of your health—and this applies to all animals from chickens to cows to goats.
A fully vegan lifestyle is by no means easy to achieve, especially when it comes to swapping out your favorite foods and beauty products, but that isn't to say that it's impossible.
Fun fact: Being vegan cuts your carbon footprint in half! Animal agriculture can be harsh on the planet, but eliminating the use of it decreases how many toxic things get released into the air.
Girls' Life sat down with two girls who live and breathe the vegan lifestyle for details on how they get it done:
Georgia: "Going vegan is one of the most powerful decisions"
Georgia Beatty had been a vegetarian for six years before diving into veganism. Her reason was simple: environmental impact. "Going vegan is one of the most meaningful and powerful things that I could do as someone who cares about the planet," she told us. She also explained how the things we consume affect our everyday mental health, and how veganism was a "refreshing change" in her life. If you're not quite ready to dive in, though, there are other things you can do to show your love for the planet. "There are definitely more ways to help the planet than by being vegan, such as making a veggie burger instead of eating Chick-Fil-A or recycling plastic waste," Georgia explained.
Tess: "You don't have to be perfect"
If veganism is the destination, then vegetarianism is the boat. Tess Courtney is a vegetarian and has been for a year and a half—now, she is conquering the journey to veganism in a way that is unique to her. Just like Georgia, Tess counts the ethical implications at the top of her list to become vegan, but the benefits don't end there. "You'll notice a lot of personal changes and benefits such as in your skin, which is a big one for me," she opened up. "It's not for everyone, but it makes a big difference for me due to hormones in dairy products."
Tess also wanted readers to know one thing: You don't have to be perfect in your journey to a different lifestyle, like veganism. "A reason a lot of people are hesitant to get into either is there's so much judgment and gatekeeping," she said. "Certain vegetarians and vegans will expect you to be perfect, and I don't think that's fair...it's not black and white. There are a lot of gray areas, and it's ok if you're not doing everything in a way somebody else would consider perfect."
Fun fact #2: Cow's milk can be difficult for the body to digest, and can occasionally cause clogged pores. Ice cream can still be enjoyed, but maybe just in moderation.
Regardless of how you arrive at your destination, whether it be veganism, vegetarianism, or being a more environmentally-aware human, do it for reasons that you can justify and at your own pace.
If you still have burning questions about veganism (how to transition, what to eat) then click here for a blog created by a resourceful vegan named Brittany, and if you would like to be more environmentally-friendly without a diet change then click here for organically-made skincare alternatives. Finally, if you don't want to do either, but would still like to get involved then click here for nine vegan charities that would love a donation.
Have you ever considered going vegan? Let us know in the comments!