The Ripple Effect

There is a road, no simple highway,
Between the dawn and the dark of night,
And if you go no one may follow,
That path is for your steps alone~The Grateful Dead, Ripple


I spoke to my mom recently on the phone. She told me some wonderful news—after just a few months, she’s lost 4 dress sizes by giving up meat and walking regularly. I couldn’t be more elated for her. She’s been severely overweight for much of my life, and has tried so many ineffective diets. Today, she actually has an attainable weight goal—and is wearing an extra-large t-shirt. I’m extremely touched and so proud of her.

It was just a few months ago that I explained to her what the egg industry does to male baby chicks—they are typically thrown away alive and left to smother or ground up alive at just a few days old. Approximately 280 million male baby chicks are killed every year by the egg industry. By the look of disbelief on her face I could tell that she heard exactly what I said—that these babies are discarded and not allowed to live at all. They are a drain to a dysfunctional system that keeps people unhealthy and overweight. She’s still eating some milk products, but told me today that she likes almond milk, which is a tremendous step forward (especially for a woman who used to buy those half pint containers of buttermilk to DRINK).

Turkey by James Lucas

It’s not just great that she’s lost weight—I certainly applaud her for that—but I’m especially excited for the other health benefits. She has cut down her medication and improving her diabetes through her diet (she was diagnosed with Type 2 a few years ago). She’s always loved those healthy foods, and never realized that lean meat wasn’t healthy. According to Dr. Neal Barnard in his book, Breaking the Food Seduction, removing meat from your diet helps prevent and reverse heart disease; prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, and osteoporosis; and aid in slow and steady weight loss (the kind you need in order to keep it off). I just gave her this book, in hopes that she will continue her weight loss and new, improved eating habits.

I’ve been vegan for just a few months and a strict vegetarian for three years prior—I know what it’s like to have ingrained habits and preferences for meat and dairy products. Until recently, I wasn’t able to see that I was assigning a label to my cat (companion) and another label to a chicken (food). Now my mother is starting to realize that this is a disingenuous practice.  I’m beginning to understand the power of the ripple effect–the seed that gets planted when your positive energy and acquired knowledge get passed along. Now it’s likely that my mom will be around long enough to celebrate her next milestone—and hopefully, down the line, embrace a completely vegan lifestyle.

Talking to others about your journey can have a positive effect on them. You never know what that breakthrough moment will be; everyone is different when it comes to facing their issues. Whatever the approach may be–animal rights, environment, health, or labor practices–I think it’s important to speak to others about the knowledge I’ve acquired on my journey to a plant-based diet.

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