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My Ninety-Five

Posted Jun 24 2010 3:10pm

Earlier this month, I featured an amazing new book on the blog titled Ninety-Five: Meeting America's Farmed Animals in Stories, the latest literary project by No Voice Unheard. After doing a review of Ninety-Five, as well as an interview with No Voice Unheard co-founder Marilee Geyer, I announced a giveaway of two free copies of the book to KMIV readers who submitted a short story with the title
"MY NINETY-FIVE: 
HOW I INSPIRE OTHERS TO GO VEG"

(Ninety-Five happens to be the number of animals saved yearly by one person's vegan lifestyle. Powerful stuff, people!)

Below, I've shared both winners' beautiful stories of how they inspire others to go veg. I just know they will charm and amaze you as much as they have me. Rock on!
 
My Ninety-Five: 
How I Inspire Others to Go Veg 
By Megan Wagner, Germantown, WI 

When I first became a vegan I was what I call a “closet vegan”.  I actually used to pray that people wouldn’t offer me meat because I knew that after I would politely decline they would follow up with, “What are you a vegetarian or something?”  It happens every time.  And I didn’t want them to ask that question because I wasn’t ready to announce my veganism to a world of carnivores that would, in my mind, tear my beliefs apart.  I didn’t want to be looked upon any differently or deemed weird or strange.  I didn’t want to start any controversy or answer a million questions.  I just wanted to eat my veggies and be left alone. 

The more I learned about factory farming the more I wanted to get out there and do something to put an end to this madness!  It was during this time that I started to realize that my fear of being deemed weird was keeping people from knowing the truth about the horrors of the agriculture business.  By keeping my veganism to myself I was indirectly contributing to animal suffering.  I had to come out of my vegan closet.  I had to share with the world all the knowledge that I’ve accumulated over the past few months.  I wanted to shout from hilltops and hire a plane to write in the sky.  But of course I didn’t do those things.  Instead I took my knowledge to the web.  A few weeks later I had my very own website up and running.  My website is filled with information about veganism including the benefits a vegan diet provides to the animals, our environment, and our own health, simple ways to make the switch to a vegan lifestyle, and the truth about factory farming, transportation, and slaughter.  I also started a blog where I write about animal advocacy, current news, and share vegan recipes.  What better way to reach out to people than the internet?  My sites may not get as many visitors as I’d like, but if I can inform one person and maybe even get them to change their lifestyle, then the time and effort I spend blogging or updating my website is well worth it.  I genuinely believe that most people are compassionate beings and that if they only knew what these poor innocent animals endure for our selfishness they would change their ways.  I believe that I inspire others to go vegan by sharing with them the most important tool: information.  Because as we all know, knowledge is power.

MY NINETY-FIVE:  
How I Inspire Others to Go Veg
By Amanda Day, New York, NY 

Growing up, I always had a desire to go veg simply because I liked animals.  So, on and off as a child and then as an adolescent, I “went” vegetarian.  It wasn’t until two and a half years ago when I finally took the time to research animal rights and animal welfare issues that I was able to go vegan completely.  The availability of information is what influenced and transitioned my “fad” decision into a committed decision.  

I now try to inspire others to go veg by providing them with information. I find the best way to inspire others is to first understand what they care about. Not everyone is an animal lover, but maybe they still believe that all living creatures deserve lives free from suffering.  In this case, I recommend Peter Singer’s book, Animal Liberation .  For all the eco individuals, John Robbins’ books or The Omnivore's Dilemma are good suggestions. There are also the people striving to be healthier.  I direct them to the articles found in reputable newspapers and on websites that state vegetarians eating a varied diet are healthier than their animal-eating friends.  When sharing information, I try hard not to preach, as it’s important for people to process material at their own comfort level.

Besides sharing information, I inspire others by what I do best - cook! People often ask me, “What do you eat?”.  Growing up in a "meat and potatoes" family, I too wondered about this until I became enthralled with Indian, Asian, and Middle Eastern foods, to name just a few of my ethnic favorites.  Spices are key and have been for countless numbers of other cultures for centuries.  Sure, a simple salad or pasta dish can be delicious, but sometimes people just crave more.  I cook for family and friends, and all are pleasantly surprised at just how good vegan food tastes.  Not only do I share new recipes from all the wonderful veg-friendly cookbooks on my shelf, but I also turn classic favorites like macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, and even chicken soup vegan using alternative products.

Sharing information and cooking are the primary ways I inspire other to go veg, but there is one other way, too.  I’m healthy - along with my husband and both dogs!  Cholesterol is LOW! Weight has dropped! People who know us well know that we eat a variety of plant-based foods, exercise, and feel good about our decision. Going vegan is a life-altering decision that has changed how we shop, what we consume, which products and companies we support or boycott, and where we socialize, since outings are typically centered around food.  It took us some time, but we’ve figured out what works for us, and I’m hopeful other people will too with time.  Every bit people do - even going veg just one day a week to start - saves animals.

I think that inspiring others through education without being bossy is key for the go veg movement to be sustainable.  That’s why I also tell people about wonderful sanctuaries like Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and Farm Sanctuary (NY and CA). Other groups, such as Mercy for Animals and PETA , also do a wonderful job at communicating the need to stand up for animals.  All of these organizations present facts that can’t be argued with - that’s why they leave such an impression on people. 

One of my favorite quotes is by Margaret Meade:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” 

I truly believe this statement to be true, because just over the past twenty years, animal rights groups starting off small in size have accomplished so much and raised awareness on a global scale.  Just walking through the supermarket, it’s clear that change is happening - maybe not as quickly as some of us would like, but nonetheless, progress is being made, and animals' lives are being saved.  It’s all worthwhile, which is why I'll continue telling people how being vegan is great and easy and urging people to write representatives to ban cruelty and impose harsher consequences for those people who violate animals' rights.

Many thanks to Megan and Amanda for their honest, heartfelt stories.







HAVE A STORY ABOUT YOUR VEGGIE LIFESTYLE TO SHARE? 

Lindsay is currently seeking submissions for her upcoming book! To learn more, click here !
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