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Happy October everyone!  And Happy first day of Vegan MoFo!

Here’s the scoop on Vegan MoFo (short for Vegan Month of Food): 500+ bloggers including myself have signed up to post at least 20 times in the month of October, promoting the awesomeness of veganism.

If you’re new to Earthgiven Kitchen:  My blog’s focus is vegan city homesteading. Beyond eating delicious and (mostly) healthy cruelty-free food, I am always looking for ways to simplify life and be more environmentally-conscious and self-sufficient.  This means making more of the products I use to buy (like shampoo, salsa and jam), growing my own organic food and challenging myself to keep learning more about sustainability and compassionate lifestyles.  It was only seven years ago that I was eating fast food chicken and barely bothering to recycle, so my offering is the journey of someone with a new-found passion for veganism and homesteading and not someone who has it all figured out.   Thanks for joining me!

October 1st is World Vegetarian Day, did you know?  A fitting first day for the start of a month celebrating plant-based eating.   So today’s post is a celebration of vegetarianism.

 “Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”~ Albert Einstein

Why go vegetarian?  To live longer, feel healthier, to be kind to animals who suffer greatly in factory farming and to be gentler on the planet.  Global Animal has an excellent summary of the the top 15 reasons to go vegetarian.

Why I went vegetarian:  Before I was vegetarian, I was nearly vegetarian for several years, since I was a teenager.  I had made the connection with some food animals –like lamb, pigs and cows and couldn’t imagine eating them– but was still eating chicken or fish a few times a week.  In 2005, I was reading Harvest for Hope by Jane Goodall which showed me how unkind the meat industry is.  The message was starting to sink in.  Then, one day, as I was driving to the grocery store, a seagull hit my windshield and died.  It was a horrible thing to watch.   Even though the bird hit my car and not the other way around, I felt terribly guilty.  I wondered how old the bird was and if he or she died painfully.  I thought “I know it is just one bird, but every animal matters”.  Then I walked into the grocery store and reached for a roast chicken and stopped.
I made the connection to the dead bird on the road and the dead bird in the grocery store, and the one in my hand had certainly suffered a great deal more in life and death than the seagull.  I could not pretend to be blameless when I was paying for it.  Why was I eating animals at all?  I didn’t need meat to enjoy delicious food and I certainly didn’t need meat to be healthy.  Eating meat felt like a bad habit I needed to break.  I never considered eating an animal again after that day seven years ago.

I was fortunate enough to meet Jane Goodall in 2008 and thank her for Harvest for Hope.  She said it was a very difficult book to write, but she was glad the message was out there.

In early 2011, after educating myself on the horrors of egg and dairy farming, I went vegan.  I’ll spare you the details here but please do some research, if you eat dairy and eggs, to learn the price animals pay.   I was practically addicted to cheese, but was committed to a compassionate lifestyle, even if it meant pining for cheddar for the rest of my life.  I am pleased to report that after just a few weeks without dairy, I stopped craving it entirely and feel MUCH healthier without it.  (I am often asked if I cheat and eat cheese occasionally.  I assure you that dairy’s siren song is lost on me.  In fact, if you eat cottage cheese in front of me, I think I will barf.)  I fervently wished I had made the switch to veganism sooner.  So much better for the animals, the planet and our bodies.

Thinking about going veg?  Want to get inspired?  Some books I recommend:

The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safron Foer

Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr

Harvest for Hope by Jane Goodall

Chloe’s Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli

In closing….. Go warm your heart by viewing the Top Ten Cutest Photos of 2011 on Cute Overload. Come on, look at number 5.  Is that the sweetest face you’ve ever seen or what?

Thanks for joining me for Vegan MoFo.  Have a wonderful October!