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Why Vegan? One Person’s Heartfelt Journey

Today’s post is by guest contributor Susan Costello, MA, LMHC, CPCC.

“Why in the world did you go vegan?”

That is a typical question this writer in her 60’s gets all the time. I love to share the answers with folks who are interested.

But, really, why would anyone go vegan? Isn’t it difficult (no) and socially isolating (no)? Don’t you have a protein deficiency (no)? Don’t you miss eating meat (not at all!)?

Actually, as more and more folks hear about the devastating effect that meat consumption has on the environment (think burning forests in the Amazon to make way for grazing cattle), and the negative impact on human health, they become more receptive. And as they find out about the torture that most animals experience to end up on people’s plates (even on “humane” farms like the ones that Whole Foods draw from), they often start to reconsider their habits and way of life.

Did you know (and with thanks to Robert Grillo of Free From Harm):

Animal agriculture is the single greatest human-caused source of greenhouse gases, land use, and land degradation; the number one source of freshwater pollution, and the leading driver of rainforest destruction. It is also a major cause of air pollution, habitat loss, and species extinction, and is a highly inefficient use of limited natural resources. The United Nations has called for a global shift to a vegan diet wherever possible as the most effective way to combat climate change, world hunger, and ecological devastation.

Regarding human health, those that eat a plant-based diet are purported to have lower blood pressure, lower risk of Type2 diabetes, lower risk of some cancers and reduced levels of heart disease. In fact, leading U.S. health care provider Kaiser Permanente, with more than 9 million health insurance subscribers, published an article in its medical science journal recommending that physicians consider recommending a plant-based diet for all their patients. The article notes, “Healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet, which we define as a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods … Physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity.”

And then there’s the impact on the animals. As Robert Grillo says, “We’re taught to think of animals raised for food — if we think of them at all — as an abstract category: “farm animals”— the nameless, faceless herds and flocks whose generic characteristics are merely recycled through an endless stream of indistinct entities. But farmed animals are individuals with unique personalities and emotions, just like cats and dogs. They feel joy, affection, and pleasure, as well as fear, grief, and pain. Like us, they form deep friendships and emotional bonds and like us they seek to preserve their only lives, which they cherish.” They live miserable lives and suffer traumatic and horrendous deaths. No living creature wants to die. They fight to live, just as we would.

So, back to me and my personal journey to veganism. I always loved animals which for 3.5 decades meant loving cats, dogs and horses. Then when I heard about the imprisonment of wild animals in circuses, I felt I had to fight for their freedom. And so, I recall that elephants were actually my gateway animal to caring about ALL animals and removing them from my plate.

In fact, most children naturally love animals and adore their stuffed animals which are facsimiles for the real thing. Somewhere along the way, they have to block out the idea that they are actually eating the dead bodies of animals that, if they saw these very animals in a zoo, they would love and would shriek with joy upon the sight of. They would be told that the roast they are eating for dinner is flesh from a cow, but that that’s different than eating their beloved dog that they sleep with every night. This happens to all of us. It is the culture we are immersed in.

But I started to see things differently in my mid-30’s. The elephant chained and forced to perform stupid tricks in the circus morphed into the baby veal cow who was taken away from its mother upon birth, not allowed to move around so its flesh would be tender and then slaughtered at a very early age. The circus elephant became the very intelligent pig who was treated sadistically in the slaughterhouse because they squealed and resisted their impending death.

I have been vegan for decades now, being in my mid-60’s, and am loving all animals more than ever. I expanded my circle of empathy to include empathy for animals as well. I hope you will consider doing the same.

Today’s post is by guest contributor Susan Costello, MA, LMHC, CPCC.

Susan Costello is a licensed counselor, psychotherapist and life coach. She has been in private practice working with individuals and couples since 1981. Having recently moved from the Boston area to the Seattle area, she now only offers services by phone and video. She can be reached at (website

Why Vegan? One Person’s Heartfelt Journey

Christine Jackson, LICSW

Christine Jackson has been a therapist for fifteen years and maintains a private practice in Washington, D.C. She has been an animal advocate for over four decades.

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APA Reference
Jackson, C. (2019). Why Vegan? One Person’s Heartfelt Journey. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 1 Dec 2019
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