We are witnessing a sea change. Things are happening now that even 10 years ago we would never have imagined. Veganism is in the public eye like never before. There have been bestselling books of all kinds focusing on different aspects of veganism, stories in the news and even on current event shows like ExtraTV, not to mention the wellspring of blogs and websites that are popping up almost daily. Sports figures are coming out as vegan, defying the stereotypes of vegans as unmanly. Popular television culinary gurus like Emeril Lagasse and Martha Stewart are featuring whole episodes on vegan cuisine. Oprah, Ellen, and other well known media figures have talked publicly about vegan diets in a very positive way. There is even action on the political front such as the passing of Prop 2 and moves afoot on Capitol Hill to introduce healthy vegan options to our nation’s school lunches (in an effort to combat the health crisis now plaguing our youth). Top quality documentaries exposing the dark side of animal agriculture and the health consequences of animal products have been released and even embraced by the public.

These are important events, perhaps heralding the next step in human consciousness, and we as individuals can help it along. We are part of it. Every time we sit down to eat we vote with our knives and forks for the world we want. This is an exciting time. It is possibly even the tipping point that will lead to a healthier, kinder, greener future for us all.

That is why it is more important than ever that we support one another. Divisiveness only weakens our message.

Which brings us to the question, why this blog, when there are so many others out there? It was inspired by an editorial comment in VegNews magazine. In the very same issue that featured a story about our wedding. The reader commented on an article about cancer survivor Kris Carr who had been featured in the Jan Feb 2009 issue, saying, “While it is admirable that Kris Carr converted to veganism, I am disillusioned by this article. Never once does she mention compassion for the animals or their horrific plight of misery in order to satisfy the palates of meat loving individuals. Without her disease, it is doubtful that Carr probably would ever have converted to veganism.”

It seemed to me that the reader was saying that health is not a valid reason to be vegan. This was not a new sentiment to me but never before had I been forced to think so deeply about it. I do not fault the reader for feeling this way. She obviously cares very deeply for animals as do I and is horrified by their suffering. It is the same reason that I first became a vegetarian. But, it was health that led me to veganism. After becoming vegan, and as I became more educated about the issues surrounding diet, I realized that as a vegetarian I had still been contributing to the problem of animal cruelty and abuse in ways that I did not fully understand before. Since I became vegan my health has improved, but so has my awareness, and one of the things that I am most aware of is that some people cannot see that connection, and others just don’t care. There are many new vegans in the world today that my husband and I helped to motivate in their decision, but almost all of them are vegans now because of health. Most of them had never even (and never would have) considered it before.

There were books and DVDs that we were able to share with them to help them in their journey but these were primarily health related. Many of them have had their compassion awakened as well. Not all though.

Is their veganism any less valid? Or that of someone who is vegan for religious or environmental reasons? I don’t think so. I believe all reasons are valid and that we ultimately share a common goal. We should rejoice and encourage one another. Regardless of someone’s personal reason the outcomes to the animals (less suffering), the individual (better health, physically and spiritually) and the environment are there. Maybe someday we will have a vegan world but it won’t happen all at once. Until then, every step taken toward veganism is a step in the right direction.

The awareness that food matters – for whatever reason – is bound to have consequences that reverberate throughout generations to come. 2008 and 2009 were amazing years. We should rejoice. Don’t stop striving for even more progress, but rejoice in the progress that we have made. Let us encourage and support each other for becoming vegan, whatever the reasons. They are all good, valid reasons and open us ever closer to accepting and understanding the others. This is how we will build the best future for us all.