Sharing Vegan Values

by Kody Kowalowski

Until recently, many people didn’t know I was vegan.  My wife and I were always quiet about it until someone wanted to make us a meal.  We never wanted to come off as those vegans who were difficult to deal with and preachy.  Part of it was because we are still fairly new to the life style.  I’ve only been vegan for a little over a year and my wife a little longer than that.  You always hope to follow through on something as noble as veganism, but just in case we failed, we didn’t want to be the people who failed on a vegan diet especially since we feel so strongly towards doing our part to help the environment and to be kind to animals.

My wife was specifically concerned with how people might blame her for potential complications during her pregnancy because she is vegan.  I’ll say this; she didn’t have a successful pregnancy until she was vegan.  I can’t say whether or not one caused the other, but she had no complications during her vegan pregnancy and in fact, between her diet and modified CrossFit training, she was the healthiest pregnant woman I have ever met.  We have a healthy baby girl and my wife had a quick recovery, which was also scrutinized.  We’re learning people don’t like when you challenge the norm.

For me, I wasn’t sure how my change in diet would affect me as an athlete.  Fortunately, I’ve been thriving.  I’ve gotten stronger with my lifts and I’ve put on muscle mass to the surprise of anyone who knew my dietary choices.  It’s amazing what vegans, especially male vegans, have to put up with as far as criticism goes.  Most of it was teasing and I think it says a lot about how strongly people feel about the myths of the vegan diet.  I’ve made larger gains in my year as a vegan than previously.  Thankfully, my results silenced the naysayers and it started some dialogue for possible diet change for others.  Eating meat does not make you a man and it’s my goal to be proof of that.

Finally, I decided to post a link to the documentary, ‘Earthlings’ with the comment, “If you don’t even care about the cruel parts, consider just the health conditions of most of the animals people are consuming. It’s disgusting (tumors, infections, feces, injections, etc.) and you are likely eating that. Consider where you get your animals from. Animal meat should not be cheap. If you can’t even watch it, you might want to reconsider how you vote with your grocery dollar.”  I figured I would approach the masses with something they could relate to instead of calling them all animal-eating haters, which most people think a vegan would do.  I was surprised at the reactions of this post and the conversations that followed.  We had friendly “debates” online and I had friends, who I never would have guessed could be affected, come to me and say either they haven’t eaten animals since watching the footage, they plan to eat fewer animals, or they want to change the source of their animal meat from conventionally raised to more humane practices.  I’m not one of those who believe in all or nothing.  Every win counts and I was happily surprised with the results of this experiment.  The point I’ve been trying to make is, live out your values and don’t try to hide it because you think it might make someone uncomfortable or angry.  You don’t have to be a jerk, but have faith in your friends and family.  Maybe they just never knew, maybe they’re curious and want to ask you questions about veganism, or maybe they’ll never change but they can respect you.  You’ll never know if you never give them the opportunity to see this side of you.

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