The Transforming Effects of a Plant-Powered Vegan Lifestyle

Photo by Robert Lukeman on Unsplash

Highlights from my interview on the Healthy Lifestyle Solutions Podcast

I had the honor of being interviewed on the Healthy Lifestyle Solutions Podcast with Maya Acosta.  We discussed my vegan journey, the transformative effects of a plant-powered lifestyle, and how to inspire healthy lifestyle change.  We also discuss definitions of vegan and plant-based, and reasons for a vegan lifestyle. Below are some excerpts from the interview.

Tell us about your journey to a plant-based, vegan lifestyle

For most of my life, I was not a healthy eater.  I ate a lot of comfort foods, microwave meals, sweets, and processed foods.  I didn’t like to cook.  Although I exercised a fair amount, I didn’t eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. 

What opened my eyes and led me to eating more plants was when I learned about how animal agriculture works.   I saw a TV program about workers in a meat processing plant, and many of them were immigrants. They had frequent injuries from this difficult work, and were so financially vulnerable that they couldn’t speak up.  They didn’t have power in this system.  It made me think about how my food got to me.  At that time I was working in a pain management program that helped injured workers. That TV program made me think about what meat processing workers were going through.

And then I started to think about all aspects of it, including the treatment of animals and what was actually going into my body when I ate animal-based foods.  I started reading everything I could. I went to the library and read every book on vegetarianism and veganism.  I learned about the health benefits for reversing heart disease from Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.  That really hit home for me because I have a strong family history of heart disease.  I learned about the impact of animal agriculture on animals and the environment.

After watching that program, I started cooking. The very next day, I bought my first vegetarian cookbook, and made vegetarian lasagna.  I had to buy all these new pots and pans because I never cooked.  It was a great experience and I found that I loved to cook – once I switched to plant-based. 

So many doors opened.  I tried new spices. I tried new ingredients that I’d never thought of before.  I started trying a new recipe or two every week. And over time, I gave up meat entirely. A few years later I started to give up dairy and eggs.  I found that after releasing dairy from my life, my seasonal allergies – that I thought I would always have – just went away.  Some skin conditions that I struggled with went away too. 

So here I am 15 years later, in my mid 50’s, with good health and a lot of energy. I feel good about the way I’m eating, knowing that it is kinder to animals, the planet, and my own health. So it feels good on all levels.  And now my food choices are so much more varied and interesting and nourishing than they used to be.  I would never go back.   

(To read more about my vegan journey, check out my blog article:  How Veganism Inspired Me to Find My Voice.)

What is the difference between vegan and plant-based?

Veganism at its core is an ethical way of living that seeks to avoid harm or exploitation to animals.  People who identify as vegan avoid buying anything that has animal products, including food and other items as well (clothing, shoes, household items, cosmetics, etc).  

A vegan diet excludes all animal products (meat, fish, dairy, or eggs).  A vegan diet can vary in terms of healthiness.  For example, fruits and veggies and beans are vegan, but so are Oreos and potato chips.  In general, a vegan diet that favors whole plant foods (fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds), with fewer processed foods, brings optimal health benefits.

A plant-based diet is a more general term, often used interchangeably with vegan diet.  Most often, it refers to a plant-exclusive diet. However, it should be noted that sometimes the term “plant-based” can refer to a diet that is predominantly plant-based (e.g., 80% to 90%). 

A whole food plant-based (WFPB) diet is a plant-exclusive diet, focused on whole plant foods, as minimally processed as possible.  This way of eating has been associated with health benefits, and is high in nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber.

Why do people choose a plant-based (plant-exclusive) lifestyle?

One reason is health.  Eating more plants (and eliminating animal products) helps to prevent and even reverse certain diseases that are common in Western countries, like heart disease, diabetes, certain forms of cancer, and autoimmune disease.  Plant-powered nutrition also supports better fitness and overall health and energy. 

There are also ethical reasons, which I touched on when sharing my experience of learning about the slaughterhouse workers.  When I realized that I didn’t like how the workers were treated, it occurred to me, well, what about the animals?  So many of us love dogs and cats, but we don’t give a second thought to other animals and what that they go through. When we awaken to realize that cows and pigs and chickens matter too, the obvious choice is to no longer consume animal products, to no longer contribute to the suffering of these sentient beings.

A third reason for becoming vegan is caring for the environment.  Animal agriculture, especially the way it’s expanded into factory farming, has had an increasingly toxic effect on our environment, from the use of land and water, to greenhouse gases, as well as cutting down rainforests to create more feed and grazing space for the animals grown for food. All of that has a huge impact.  One book that I found really helpful is Eat for the Planet by Nil Zacharias and Gene Stone.  The authors show that by eating a vegan diet, you save 1500 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, and 30 square feet of forest per day. Simply by eating lower on the food chain, you save all of that, along with lowering your carbon emissions by 50%.

(For more information about the reasons for a vegan lifestyle, check out my resource page Why Vegan?

Tell us about your book research on the transformative effects of a plant-powered, vegan lifestyle.

One thing that really intrigues me as a psychologist is how what we eat affects our mental health, our emotional well-being, and even our spiritual well-being.  I’ve been collecting surveys and doing interviews with vegans on this topic.  My goal with this book to convey the changes in mind, body, and spirit that many people experience as they eat in ways that nourish their body, and that are aligned with the deeper values that they hold.  There’s the nutritional benefit of giving our body the nutrients it needs. And then there are psychological benefits of living aligned with our deepest values — caring deeply for our own health, living lightly on the earth, and causing the least harm to other sentient beings. There are amazing shifts that people are reporting, including more interconnectedness with all of nature.  As we eat in this healthy way, there’s a sense of fulfillment, purpose, and peace in honoring our values through our daily choices.

To listen to the full interview, check out The Healthy Lifestyle Solutions Podcast.

(Note: For this article, the interview transcript was copy-edited and some points expanded upon, to improve clarity).

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.

Key Practices for Creating a Healthful Vegan Life

Colorful salad with tomatoes, bell peppers, and arugula
Photo by Sara Dubler on Unsplash

“Veganism is not an elimination diet, it is a lifestyle filled with happiness, peace, and contentment.”

“My health and my whole life have transformed.  I feel like I got my life back.”

 “I’m living a life of ahimsa, doing the least harm to myself, the planet, and all beings.”

“I feel lighter in body and soul.”

These are just a few of the comments shared by vegans participating in my book research on the mind-body-spirit impacts of a vegan lifestyle.

My survey respondents reported that their vegan journey brought a greater appreciation for the natural world and all beings that inhabit it.  Over and over, participants shared a sense of wonder in realizing the interconnectedness of all life.  Over and over, they shared the realization that caring for the well-being of others is deeply connected with their own well-being.  And while living this compassionate vegan lifestyle, they found that their own health and vitality significantly improved.

What helps to successfully move toward and sustain a healthy, plant-powered, vegan life? 

Here are some of the top suggestions from my survey respondents:

1. Connect with a strong motivation for being vegan.

Whether it is for animals, for justice, for health and fitness, and/or for the environment, regularly connecting with your “Why” helps you to keep going when inevitable challenges and obstacles arise.  Check out my article Going Plant-Based:  A Revelation for Body, Mind, and Spirit to learn some of the compelling reasons for a vegan lifestyle.

2. Build positive supports

Ask your family and friends to be allies on your vegan journey.  Even if they aren’t willing to go vegan with you, explain the importance of your vegan lifestyle to them, and ask them to support you and back you with this.  In addition, connect with like-hearted vegans who share your commitment.  Discovering your vegan tribe can be one of the most helpful and meaningful parts of the vegan journey.  You can find vegan supports through local or on-line plant-based/vegan communities, groups, or organizations.  Taking action through volunteer work (for animals, human health, and/or healing our planet) can also create positive connections and a sense that you are making a meaningful difference.

3. Educate yourself

Listen to podcasts, read books and articles, take classes, and check out plant-based websites.  This helps to stay connected to your motivations for being vegan, as well as to learn practical tips and skills for how to thrive as a vegan.  See my Plant-Powered Resources List for helpful websites, books, documentaries, and podcasts to empower your vegan journey.

4. Be proactive with social situations.

To stay the course with a healthy vegan lifestyle, it’s important to take responsibility for your own well-being and not leave things to chance.  Plan ahead so that you always have vegan food available, whether you are eating out, travelling, or going to a social gathering.  I learned this the hard way, after assuming there would be vegan options available at a restaurant or a social situation – and finding that sometimes there were not.  I learned to speak up, call ahead, bring dishes to share at social gatherings, and to always have healthy snacks on hand.  (For tips on handling social situations, check out my article Navigating Social Challenges on the Vegan Path).

5. Learn effective communication skills.

Healthy communication and relational skills are extremely important in expressing your wishes and needs as a vegan, as well as in advocating for the benefits of a plant-based, vegan lifestyle.  A book that I found really helpful to improve vegan communication skills is Beyond Beliefs by Dr. Melanie Joy.  For additional guidance, check out my article 7 Tips for Inspiring Others Toward a Plant-Based Lifestyle.

6. Practice healthy self-care.

Being a resilient, impactful, and healthy vegan means including yourself in your circle of compassion.  This means choosing nourishing plant-foods that bring vibrant health and energy, enjoying exercise and movement, spending time in nature, enjoying time with companion animals, renewing through meditation and yoga, and drawing on spiritual resources.  My participants noted that these self-care activities were essential for remaining empowered, hopeful, and resilient in their vegan lifestyle.

Incorporating these basic practices on your vegan journey will help you to flourish in mind, body, emotions, and spirit.  Your shining example will in turn inspire and empower others, moving us toward a world of compassion, health, sustainability, and flourishing for all.

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.

7 Tips for Inspiring Others toward a Plant-Based Lifestyle

Vegetables, chickpeas, and pita in a blue ceramic dish
Photo by Edgar Castrejon on Unsplash

Note:  This article contains excerpts from the e-book 7 Best Practices to Inspire Your Loved Ones to Go Plant-Based (available through WeDidIt.Health)

Have you experienced the amazing healing power of a plant-based lifestyle?  After celebrating your own health improvements, and learning about the extensive research supporting a whole food plant-based (WFPB) diet, it’s common to wish that everyone could experience these same benefits.  Perhaps you have loved ones who are struggling with heart disease, diabetes, obesity, or cancer, and you long to nudge them toward this lifestyle. 

But all too often, others turn a deaf ear when we encourage them to try this way of eating.  There is so much confusing and conflicting information out there about nutrition and health, it may appear as if a plant-based diet is just another fad.

Often others dismiss what we are sharing and question it in light of information from the media or even their health care providers.  In the face of others’ reluctance or outright resistance, it’s easy to give up on encouraging healthier choices. However, while you can’t control others’ choices, you can help to inspire curiosity and hope.  Stoking these embers of hope for a healthier future may start them on the path to change. 

Below are seven tips for empowering others toward greater health with a plant-based diet. Consider the person(s) you hope to inspire as you mindfully engage in these practices.

1. Consider their readiness for change.   

While we may wish to influence everyone to become healthier through a plant-based diet, the reality is that a plant-exclusive diet is not (yet) embraced by society.  Many people find it difficult to adopt a way of eating that appears to go against familiar norms and traditions.  Even some medical practitioners promote diets high in meat and dairy, and low in carbohydrates.  Receiving this type of advice from trusted experts makes it difficult for many to accept that there is extensive research validating the health benefits of a plant-based diet.

In addition, research on the process of lifestyle change suggests that individuals go through stages of readiness in considering, initiating, and successfully maintaining change.  When sharing about the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, it’s helpful to consider the other person’s stage of change to determine which approaches will be most effective.

Where is your loved one on the change continuum?  Are they strongly opposed to trying a plant-based diet?  Are they somewhat receptive, but have a number of concerns and questions?  Are they receptive and interested, but unsure how to make this lifestyle change in a healthy and sustainable way?  

If the other person is firmly opposed to considering a plant-based diet, being a positive role model (practice 4) may be your best bet.  However, be alert for times of greater receptivity to take the opportunity to share information that is relevant to their specific interests and concerns.

For those who are somewhat receptive, but are ambivalent due to concerns and/or misinformation about a vegan diet, practices 2, 3, and 5 may be helpful to lessen their fears, and raise awareness of the positives of this lifestyle.

If your loved one is intrigued by the possibilities of a plant-based diet, but unsure how to go about this new lifestyle, explore how to best support them with practical resources, role modeling, and developing new skills (practices 4, 5, and 6).

2. Tailor your message to their deepest concerns

We are most impactful when we share information that is highly relevant to the other person.  This may involve asking open-ended questions to understand their concerns surrounding health, nutrition, and diet, and their goals and wishes for these areas.  What matters most to them?  What are their greatest challenges and concerns?  Listen and reflect back the key points they are sharing.  This helps the other to feel heard, and allows you to focus your message in a way that is meaningful to the other person.

If they have serious health problems that impact their quality of life, they may be inspired by hearing stories of yourself or others healing through plant-based nutrition.  For those who value physical fitness, it may pique their interest to learn about the benefits of this lifestyle for athletic performance.  If they are environmentally conscious, they may be motivated by learning that a plant-based lifestyle can reduce their carbon footprint even more than switching to a hybrid car. 

3. Address their barriers to change

If the other person seems reluctant to consider a plant-based diet, explore their fears and obstacles.  What do they see as being in the way?  Listen empathically without judging.  Provide support and understanding.  Perhaps you once experienced similar challenges on your plant-based journey, and can build a sense of shared understanding by acknowledging this.

Once they have shared their concerns and feel heard, they may be more receptive to information, resources, and/or learning how you overcame similar challenges. For example, if they think it’s too much work to change their diet, perhaps you can suggest meal planning and cooking together to develop new skills.  If they are afraid they won’t enjoy the food, you might explore plant-based recipes that create a healthier version of their favorite meals. 

4. Show, don’t just tell

One of the best ways to inspire others is to role model a healthy lifestyle.  Develop a repertoire of scrumptious vegan dishes to share at social gatherings.  Continue to educate yourself on the benefits of WFPB nutrition and build a support network with others who embrace this way of eating.  This will help you remain inspired and committed to your plant-based lifestyle.  As you enjoy better health, while overcoming any challenges in the process, your positive outlook and results may be an inspiration to your loved ones.

5. Share compelling documentaries. 

Invite family and friends to watch What the Health, Forks over Knives, or The Game Changers.  It’s amazing how many people have awakened to the benefits of going plant-based through watching a documentary.  You might also recommend an article or a podcast that is relevant to their specific concerns.  As they hear information shared by experts, and witness the stories of those whose health has been transformed, their view may expand to see nutrition and health in a whole new way. 

6. Focus on positive messages and encouragement

Lasting lifestyle change occurs more readily when individuals connect with their own reasons for change versus feeling pressured or brow-beaten.  Support your loved one when they express interest in making healthy dietary changes.  Encourage any positive steps toward a healthier, plant-strong lifestyle, rather than critiquing their unhealthy choices.  It’s OK to express concerns about your loved one’s dietary choices and the potential impact on health, but you will be most impactful if these concerns are expressed in a compassionate and respectful way.  Be aware that criticism and unsolicited advice is rarely effective in eliciting behavior change.  Be an ally on their health journey, rather than an adversary.

7. Be patient (and keep faith)

Everyone has their own process of change, and it’s important to respect other people’s journeys.  It may help to recall your own experience of moving toward a plant-based lifestyle, including any initial skepticism or resistance, as well as setbacks you may have experienced along the way.  Also remember your reasons for being plant-based, so that you remain hopeful and motivated to continue sharing the message.

Often many seeds are planted over time before a person is ready to implement and maintain healthy lifestyle changes.  Keep communication open, even if the other person doesn’t immediately adopt a plant-based lifestyle.  Continue to share intriguing stories about the health, environmental, and ethical benefits of eating plant-based.  Keep bringing delicious vegan food to social events.  Someday you may be pleasantly surprised when the others in your life tell you they are eating a lot more plants.  Maybe they will even be sharing great plant-based resources with you! 

Continue to hold your vision for a healthier world.  With each person who awakens to the health and planetary benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, we create an unstoppable momentum toward the healing and flourishing for all.

For a complimentary copy of my e-book on this topic (7 Best Practices to Inspire Your Loved Ones to Go Plant-Based, published by Hippocrates Table LLC, 2022;), which contains more in-depth tips and resources, take the one-question survey at WeDidIt.Health.  You will then contribute to sharing the plant-based message with others as well!

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.

5 Ways Veganism Transformed My Life

brilliant sunset over dunes and ocean
Photo by Angela Crawford, Cape May Point, NJ

I have always tended to be an introvert.  I relish solitude.  I prefer small groups to large crowds.  I’ve lived a quiet life, not often sharing my views and opinions publicly.

But then 15 years ago, I had an awakening that was so meaningful, compelling, and life-changing, it has continued to impact me and to make me more fully human, more fully me.  It revealed my deeply held values.  And over time, I came to realize that these values are universal and encompass our physical health, emotional and spiritual well-being, and the survival of the planet.  No longer could I keep this to myself as a private revelation.  I realized that I had to find a way to share this life-changing discovery.

My awakening happened in stages.  It started with learning about factory farming and the treatment of animals. I realized I would never want a dog or cat to go through that suffering.  Why was it okay for a pig, cow, or chicken?

I read everything I could, filling my Kindle with e-books on vegan topics.  Through my research, I learned about the healing benefits of a plant-based diet for many diseases that plague Western society. I also learned about the devastating effects of animal agriculture on the planet.

But I was most impacted by the suffering of animals treated as commodities rather than sentient beings.  Gradually, I broke through the deep layers of social conditioning that kept me emotionally disconnected from their plight.

Much to my surprise, becoming vegan did not seem like a sacrifice.  Rather, it turned out to be an experience of abundance and fulfillment, transforming my life in unexpected ways.

1. Veganism inspired me to find my voice

Veganism connected so many dots for me.  I wake with a deep sense of purpose each day.  Through my daily food choices, and my efforts to educate and raise awareness, I can be part of the solution for many causes that matter deeply to me: caring for animals and the planet, food insecurity, justice, and human health. Although I still think of myself as an introvert, my passion for veganism compels me to discover how I can use my voice and my gifts to make a difference.

2. Extending compassion to all beings

I have always viewed myself as an empathic person.  However, for years I ate meat daily, and was seemingly unaware of the animals who suffered as a result of my choices.  When I had my vegan awakening, I became aware of my connection with all life.  I developed a deeper appreciation for the complexity and beauty of nature and the animal kingdom.  Gradually, I realized that the kindest way of living and eating was also healthiest for me.

Recent visit at Farm Sanctuary

3. Greater peace 

There was a sense of freedom, a weight lifted, when I began living in a way that was truly aligned with my values.  An inner conflict that I had not even been fully aware of was resolved through the choice to not eat animals.  This brought a sense of peace and inner wholeness.

4. Appreciation and gratitude

My world opened to greater abundance and appreciation when I became vegan.   Yes, there is awareness of pain and suffering that is very difficult at times. But there is also an expanded sense of awe of nature and all life.  There are the delicious vegan meals I’ve learned to create, with vibrant colors and delectable flavors.  And there is appreciation for my body’s resilience and health, which has been strengthened by my plant-powered cuisine.

5. Connecting with like-hearted people across the globe

I have had the amazing experience of connecting with vegans around the world.  Through groups, collaborations, and trainings, I have met courageous and compassionate people from across the globe.

There are challenges being vegan in a world that is not yet vegan.  As someone who prefers harmony, it has not always been easy to live in a way that is at odds with the status quo.  And yet each time I meet others who embrace and live by vegan values, I feel inspired and uplifted.  And each time my example inspires someone else to consider the vegan path, it makes it all worthwhile.

Veganism is a path of listening to our heart’s guidance to extend kindness to all beings.  Through our daily choices, we join others to become a movement that seeks a world of compassion, sustainability, and flourishing for all.

Note: This article was originally published on Main Street Vegan Blog on November 23, 2021.

Angela Crawford, Ph.D. is a psychologist and transformational coach. She is passionate about empowering people to create 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.

Enjoying a Vegan Thanksgiving

Wild turkey with beautiful plumage
Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

I have to acknowledge that Thanksgiving Day is not always easy for me as a vegan.  When I adopted a plant-based diet 15 years ago, it changed how I viewed Thanksgiving and what this holiday means to me.  I feel sad about the lives of animals lost for this one meal, especially when there are so many delicious, plant-based, cruelty-free alternatives.  

I still look forward to the shared meal with family.  But now my scrumptious dishes are made from the plant kingdom.  And I try to view this day as a celebration of values such as compassion, appreciation, and gratitude.

Here are some ideas for enjoying a compassionate Thanksgiving:

  • Rather than eating a turkey, “adopt” oneFarm Sanctuary (which has shelters in New York State and California) offers the option of symbolically adopting a rescued turkey by making a small donation.  The funds provide food and care for turkeys living at the shelter.  Farm Sanctuary sends a certificate that includes a picture and the story of your adopted turkey. 
  • Enjoy an abundant feast from the plant kingdom.  For the Thanksgiving meal, I like to bring vegan versions of traditional favorites.  This year, my husband and I will be contributing roasted garlic mashed potatoes and parsnips; shitake mushroom gravy; sweet potato biscuits; cranberry-orange relish; maple-glazed Brussels sprouts; and chocolate “cream” pie.  There are many great vegan Thanksgiving recipes available on-line.  Here are a few websites to check out:
  • Consider a meat alternative.  Gardein, Tofurky, and Field Roast offer plant-based holiday roasts you can enjoy.  These options can provide a satisfying centerpiece to the meal.  (This year, we are going to try Field Roast which comes with sage stuffing and porcini mushroom gravy).
  • Connect with your reasons for eating plant-based.  Some of us go plant-based for health, others for ethical or environmental reasons.  I was influenced by all of these considerations, but have stayed committed due to compassion for all sentient beings.  Approximately 46 million turkeys are bred and killed each year in the US for Thanksgiving alone.  Commercially raised turkeys are bred to be much heavier than wild turkeys, live in confined conditions, and are slaughtered at only 12 to 19 weeks old.  Taking in these realities (and discovering the abundance of delicious, healthy plant-based options) made me realize that I no longer wanted or needed to participate in this. 
  • Consider what Thanksgiving means to you.  Take time to explore your deeper meaning for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Many of us follow old traditions out of habit, rather than making a conscious decision about how we want to enjoy our holidays.  This year may be a perfect year to reevaluate your holidays, what they mean to you, and how you want to celebrate them.  Maybe you will want to keep some old traditions, modify others, and create new ones.
  • Practice gratitude.  I am reminding myself this Thanksgiving to appreciate all the blessings in my life, and to share that appreciation with others.  Even in the midst of what is a challenging time for so many, we all have reasons for gratitude.  In addition, there are many health and psychological benefits of making a daily practice of acknowledging our blessings.
  • Make kind and compassionate purchases.  One way of appreciating our blessings is to pass them on to others.  In addition to donating time or money to causes that we care about, we can extend compassion to sentient beings and to workers by researching fair trade, cruelty-free, sustainable, and health-promoting choices for our food and gift purchases.  Our decision to extend compassion to others is a win-win situation, because ultimately it brings more health, fulfillment, and joy back to us.


Note:  This article was revised and updated from Vegan Thanksgiving published on 11/25/2020

Angela Crawford, Ph.D. is a psychologist, transformational coach, and vegan lifestyle educator.