@ericvanular Great questions! Around 7 or 8 years ago when I was in high school I was pescatarian (refraining from eating meat, except for fish) and then I transitioned to being a vegetarian. When I went to university, I reintroduced meat into my diet because the residence that I lived in refused to provide adequate plant-based options that I could tangibly survive off of. To answer your question, I believe it was at the beginning of 2017 where I watched documentaries like Cowspiracy and What The Health, and activists such as Earthling Ed on YouTube that really opened my eyes to the impacts of animal agriculture. My change was ultimately driven by aligning my morals and ethics. I went plant-based (meaning that solely my diet) right away and shifted my purchases to plant-based ones. Part of my transition was using up the food that I had or giving it to a friend so that I wasn't throwing out or wasting food.
My transition to veganism (the full lifestyle and philosophy) has been over time! I started by consuming plant-based foods, then I started to become a more conscious consumer by transitioning my clothes, makeup, skincare, etc. products to vegan alternatives. I'm still constantly looking for vegan alternatives to products that I used to love, that are affordable and similar in quality so that I don't feel I have to compromise. I also strive to buy products where I can in bulk.
I still may wear clothing and products that I previously owned that I purchased before I went vegan, however, I do not and will not go out and buy new products that use animals or their byproducts. To me, it would be wasteful to throw away these clothes or products, so I wear them, donate, or give to a friend. Some people may disagree with this but to each their own.
My biggest challenge was probably myself and my mindset. I kept thinking of veganism like I couldn't eat foods I liked anymore. I would catch myself saying, "Darn, I guess I can't eat that anymore". However, when I started to solidify my morals and remember the reasons why I was doing this, it became so much easier. I shifted my negative thinking to "I can't eat that" to "I can eat that, but I CHOOSE not to". I was naive and used to view this diet as "restrictive", but I ended up proving myself wrong. I found that my relationship with food changed and that this lifestyle has opened my eyes to a plethora of cuisines that I probably never would have experienced.
I am more than happy to provide sources for these stats. I initially was actually going to insert all of my sources before but didn't want people to feel that my post was becoming academic.
Here are my sources in order of my bullet points:
-https://www.ipcc.ch/ ("The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change." and more than 100 scientists from 52 countries put together this report)
Margulis, Sergio. "Causes of Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon". World Bank Working Paper No. 22. 2003
Tabuchi, Hiroko, Rigny, Claire & White, Jeremy. "Amazon Deforestation, Once Tames, Comes Roaring Back". New York Times. February 2017(New)
Bellantonio, Marisa, et al. "The Ultimate Mystery Meat: Exposing the Secrets Behind Burger King and Global Meat Production". Mighty Earth (New)
Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. . Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.
-Topsoil erosion, ocean deadzones, land desertification stat reference (i could list countless sources for this, however this website lists many here): https://www.cowspiracy.com/facts
-Goodland, R Anhang, J. “Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change were pigs, chickens and cows?”
Goodland, Robert & Anhang, Jeff. "Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are...cows, pigs and chickens?". WorldWatch. November/December 2009
Hickman, Martin. "Study claims meat creates half of all greenhouse gases". Independent. November 2009
Hyner, Christopher. "A Leading Cause of Everything: One Industry That Is Destroying Our Planet and Our Ability to Thrive on It". Georgetown Environmental Law Review. October 23, 2015.
I often look to YouTuber Mic The Vegan as he critically analyzes research and data and provides a critical discourse, rooted in science.
Sorry for the lengthy response, I merely want to be thorough.
I'd also like to agree with you, Eric. Any small changes we make are valid, and progress is progress no matter how big or how small. As consumers, we vote for things with our dollar. Everything we do makes an impact, and all we can do is try our best. I want to make it abundantly clear, that I do not judge anyone that is not vegan, as I was not vegan for the majority of my life. I also do not believe that veganism is the only way to help positively impact climate change. I am always growing and evolving in my environmental activism, and believe in the importance of intersectionally. Thank you for engaging in this conversation with me, and I hope I was able to answer your questions.