It is the time of year again for New Years resolutions. They are made and then often quickly broken. I normally don't make New Years resolutions as nothing could live up to the resolution that I made 17 years ago.
In early 1994, I decided to make a resolution to give up meat and become vegetarian. This was all before I was even aware what it meant to go vegetarian. The Internet was still new to our house and I certainly did not get online and research the subject. I just felt a calling from God to be vegetarian and to fight against the suffering of other living creatures. The 14-year-old Amanda decided that she was in charge of the food she ate and that meant that her meals would no longer cause animals to suffer and die.
I started gradually by giving up processed meats, then red meat, then lastly poultry and fish/seafood. This was a shock to my whole family. I think they felt like it came out of no where. At the time I was not an animal lover (those who know me now, know how crazy I am about animals!). I just knew this was what I had to do. I felt immense guilt every time I consumed an animal and imagined the pain and suffering it endured. I couldn't live with that death in my body or on my hands. I felt something I might have never felt before, compassion.
This was hard to defend for a teenage girl with raging emotions. My parents were tame and accepted my new life quickly. My extended family.......is another story! In time they became some what supportive, but I still find myself defending my views during every visit. The first holiday with them after becoming vegetarian was a nightmare. Meat was waved in my face, there was name calling, and accusations.
I'm not a quitter and I pushed through the ridicule and grew stronger in my views. Many said it wouldn't last. That it was a fad that would fade in college, if I even made it that long. They were all wrong! I only got stronger in my views. In college, and more so in graduate school, I began contemplating veganism. I read all about eggs and dairy and saw that vegetarian meals weren't as cruelty free as I had thought. There was still death and suffering on my hands. I knew it was the right thing for me to progress to veganism, but it took me a while to get there.
So, I find myself in present day as a gluten free vegan.
As I contemplate other New Years resolutions, I can't think of one that I could feel this passionate about or show this much commitment. My resolution from 17 years ago still benefits my health, the environment, and animals.
Here is to powerful and long-lasting New Years resolutions!