"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view." - Ed Abbey

I AM A VEGAN.

I. AM. A. VEGAN.

Do you have any idea how hard that is to share? For one, it feels rather “off topic,” since I’ve devoted this space to be writing about minimalism, vanlife, and adventure. Why would anyone want to hear about a girl who is defined by what she DOES NOT eat. Kind of boring, right? I mean, bring on the van stories and long-distance endeavours please, and leave the “save the animals” bull-sh@t for another time.

Ok, you’re probably not judging me that hard, so I’m sorry for portraying you in that light. But here’s the thing – vegans are judged for being judgemental. Kind of ironic, isn’t it? Like we all just sit on our high horse and look down on everyone like they are monsters, while we piously pour our nut milk into our fair-trade, organic coffee.

But I’m not judging you; I’m scared that you’re judging ME. Whoever you are.

Don’t get me wrong, I am secure in my decisions, and I’ve put a lot of thought and years into finally getting here. I was a vegetarian for several years, with a minor “relapse” where I ate animals again after our GDT hike, but I’ve swung back to near-veganism, where I am holding onto a few things for now – honey and eggs (because I think this is a lifestyle that can take time to adjust to).

I have always been someone who feels so incredibly deeply, that I can’t help but be moved by the smallest things – a sappy commercial, a best friend announcing to me that she’s pregnant (remember that MB?) or a video of my nephew being silly. I am the type of person who will start to watch an animal rights movie, and NEVER finish it. I can’t. It’s too much. I can actually get depressed for a couple of days if I expose myself to something too traumatic or too horrific. Once I googled “bull-fighting” (DON’T DO IT!) and I couldn’t sleep afterwards.

Why am I sharing this? I’m not entirely sure, other than the obvious fact that writing is like therapy to me, so putting my thoughts into words is always a good idea. But this isn’t about me feeling justified in my decision to not eat animals or animal products. This is also about you. It’s a call for you to look at this vegan-soul, and see where my heart is. I’m not telling you that you are doing something bad. I’m not going to come over to your house and demand that you have vegan options for me. This is a very very sensitive topic, and quite honestly, the hardest part about being vegan is the “not offending anyone” part.

Please don’t assume that vegans are self-righteous and religious about their veganism. It’s hard to live something that is considered extreme – truly, any lifestyle change that is extreme is almost religious at it’s core, and maybe that’s why it can have such a bad reputation. If you’re sort-of-vegan or sort-of-a-Christian is that truly living out your morals? Yes, I’m not fully vegan at this point, but I do believe that veganism is the life for me, and I’m working towards it.

I have fought this for so long. I have known that I have no place eating animals or animal products and supporting factory farms. This is MY lifestyle choice. Not yours. And your lifestyle choice is not mine to make either.

So why is this easy-going, minimalist, van-dwelling hippie suddenly a vegan? Sure, the obvious answer is for the well-being of the animals, but maybe more surprisingly, my main reasons are for environmental reasons. I will share more on that later, but did you know that animal agriculture is the main contributor to green-house gases? Did you know that climate change is the biggest threat to the survival of the human race? Did you know that we are literally in a global crisis, with increased hurricane forces, rising sea-water, and rising atmospheric temperatures, just to name a few?

So I say no to tasty meat – which is not hard to do, by the way. I self-identify as an environmental activist, as an animal lover, and as a minimalist. It’s time to put my money where my mouth is people!

And I’m a Christian – also possibly a shocker to some of you. My faith expression may look different than the average Christian, but it cannot be denied by Christians that we are called to care for the planet. We are told to “care for the garden” and to “care for the orphans.” Well our garden is in major trouble, and our orphans and people in need are being displaced from their homes from environmental disasters. Yes, send them fresh water and aid and food and housing – in the name of Jesus if you like, or in the name of yourself. I just wish there were more Christians who felt that “saving the planet” was a Christ-like mission. To look outside of ourselves. To tend the earth as the precious, miraculous gift that she is. At it’s core, to care about the earth for the sake of the earth, but in a more human-centric angle, to at least care for the earth for the sake of HUMANITY.

Alright, I hope I haven’t upset too many people. I have had this topic on my mind for weeks now, and I’m not sure if I’m articulated myself well or not, but at least the conversation is started. Let me know if you are a vegan, or if you’re a Christian who agrees that Jesus cares about climate change. I often feel very very VERY alone in my passions and in what I believe are God-given convictions.

I guess I feel vulnerable, and I need a little “Hell yeah!” or even a “Preach it sister!” I think that extremism and living out our morals is so important, no matter your faith background. I have friends and acquanintances from all sort of backgrounds, who stand-up for what they believe in, and it is the most beautiful thing.

You are a voice.

Namaste. God bless.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you…In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” – Job 12:7-10