Like many of us, I have always loved animals. As a child, I adored my pet cat, and I had a family of stuffed dogs that I took with me everywhere. I also didn’t like to see any animal (or insect) suffering – I remember once rescuing a grasshopper that was floating in the lake where I was swimming. I let it jump onto my raft and brought it back to shore.
Even though I loved animals, I was raised to believe that meat and dairy were necessary for my health and well-being. I enjoyed the meals my mother cooked, which generally involved some sort of meat, potatoes, and vegetables in a cheese or butter sauce.
I had little awareness of the animals who were bred, raised, and killed to be part of my daily meals. Growing up in Midwestern farm country, I only saw the cows grazing in the fields. I never saw the concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) – aka factory farms – that were kept out of sight.
In fact, I rarely thought about the fact that meat comes from animals. If this thought did cross my mind, it was fleeting. I did not see any other option. I had no idea what to eat if I stopped consuming meat or dairy. I was not the healthiest eater – often choosing what was convenient, easy, and comforting – fast food, microwave meals, chips, and sweets.
It wasn’t until I was 40 that I had my awakening. I saw a program about meat processing plants that shifted my awareness of the whole animal agriculture process – and I realized I did not want to participate in this anymore.
It was freeing – an epiphany that allowed me to live by values that I had long held. I was able to embrace my compassion. I no longer had to turn away from the truth about animal suffering – so that I could have a hamburger or fried chicken.
And far from being depriving as I had feared, a whole world of abundance opened for me. The very next day after watching that program, I tried out a recipe for roasted red pepper and artichoke lasagna. It was delicious, full of vibrant colors and sumptuous flavors. Wow, who knew I could cook?
I began trying spices, ingredients, and condiments I had never used before. I expanded my food palette and found new freedom, joy, and creativity.
When I stopped eating animals and embraced the bounty of the plant kingdom, I became freed in ways I hadn’t anticipated.
I was freed from past food preferences, habits, and addictions that weren’t healthy for me.
I was freed from an inner weight I hadn’t known I was carrying.
I was freed to find my voice and a deeper sense of purpose.
In more fully living my values of compassion, peace, health, wellness, and sustainability, I become more authentically me.
The peace and freedom that I found through living my vegan values is shared by many other vegans. In fact, in my book research on the transformative impact of a vegan lifestyle, the number one positive impact reported by survey respondents is “being true to inner convictions and values.”
My research participants reported a cascade of positive outcomes from aligning daily choices with vegan values:
- Greater peace
- Purpose and meaning
- Contributing to something greater
- Doing the least harm
- Freedom from inner conflict
Far from being limiting, restricting, or depriving, becoming vegan often brings a surprising sense of empowerment, fulfillment, and freedom…and the hope that we can unite our common values to create a healthier and more compassionate world.
May you enjoy the peace of embodying the values you hold most dear. And in honoring our shared values, may we create a world of greater health, compassion, sustainability, and flourishing for all.
Note: This article has also been featured in New Mexico Vegan Magazine, January 2023.
For more on my vegan journey, check out my earlier article: How Veganism Inspired Me to Find My Voice.
The research referenced in this article is based on my book research on the emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual impacts of a vegan lifestyle.
Angela Crawford, Ph.D. is a psychologist and transformational coach. She is passionate about empowering people to create healthy lives that nurture mind, body, spirit, and planet. Dr. Crawford is certified as a Master Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator, and has a Plant-Based Nutrition certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies at e-Cornell. She is currently doing research for a book on the psychological and emotional benefits of a vegan lifestyle. She serves as a psychology advisor for WeDidIt.Health, an on-line community that shares the benefits of a plant-powered lifestyle.
6 thoughts on “The Healing Power of Vegan Values”
Thank you so much for the wonderful article. I love to partner for the mission of expressing non violent practices towards animals as the beings created by God to have the right to live and do what they like. Yes I wanted to let you know that there are more awareness to be done particularly in Kenya and the world.
Thank you for your amazing compassionate work in Kenya, Kenneth!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I, too, felt an immediate freedom when going vegan a number of years ago now and have a deep sense of peace inside because I know I am being true to myself. Hopefully this creates a ripple effect…
Thank you for sharing this, @wanderingalice. Yes, hopefully the peace that comes from being true to ourselves will have a ripple effect!
Angela, your line in the blog: ‘In more fully living my values of compassion, peace, health, wellness, and sustainability, I become more authentically me’, resonates with me hugely. I no longer apologise for making things awkward for others, as I did for many years. I enjoy cooking plant based feasts for others and relish the great comments from my omnivore friends. I feel more confident to speak on the topic when asked, but most importantly, I am contented from within. Please keep driving forward with your valuable work.
Anna Lee, I’m so glad that it resonates. I love hearing your journey to more peace, confidence, and contentment. I can really relate! Thank you for sharing!