The big question. I actually debated about whether or not to answer it here, but somehow, it's seems important to clarify it at least a little, before I move on with this blog.
There are a number of reasons that people go vegan: health & diet, environmental issues, compassion for animals... My primary reason is the animals - but saving the planet and being healthier are nice little fringe benefits.
For me, veganism is a spiritual thing - I can't separate my spirituality from my veganism - it all fits together. Pocohontas explains it so well in the song "Colors of the Wind": "Ev'ry rock and tree and creature has a life, has a spirit, has a name." I believe that this world and everything in it are sacred, and that everyone and everything is connected. When we harm one, we harm all, and we harm ourselves. I look to do as little harm as possible - to myself, to others, to the planet in general.
I have heard the arguement that the animals were placed on this earth for us to "use". I see it a little differently, but I have a strong respect for others' beliefs. I don't claim to have all the answers. I'm just trying to live my life the best way I know how, for me. I can't make decisions for others. I respect that as serious as I am about this lifestyle, others feel as strongly about theirs. This makes me a lousy activist, which is okay. I have a lot of respect for those who do fight for the animals, and try to teach the world, but I just don't believe that path is meant for me. And yes, this actually tends to make me unpopular with other vegans. It's something I am learning to live with. When going vegan, it helps to have a thick skin (which I don't, so this is a challenge for me).
There's some question as to whether or not a vegan diet is "natural" for humans. Again, I won't argue one way or the other. What I do believe is that it is *possible* for a human to be healthy on a vegan diet (as well as a non-vegan diet). There are healthy vegans, and there are not-so-healthy non-vegans. Yes, there are a few crucial nutrients not commonly found in a vegan diet, so you do have to be careful. I did a lot of research before I made this lifestyle change - and I strongly caution anyone considering it to learn as much as they can, and speak with their doctor. I take a good vegan multi-vitamin and other suppliments every single day (B vitamins and Omega-3's are two big things to look for). I really pay attention to making sure I have a well-balanced diet, and that my body is getting what it needs.
Being vegan is very important to me. It's truly a part of who I am. I would love it if someday my life, in some way, inspired someone else to do something positive with their life. But I won't condemn anyone for living a different way. Right and wrong are rarely black-and-white - life is full of grey areas. I don't know what is right for you, only what I feel is right for me. I understand that even this next comment will offend some, but I truly believe that we each have our own path to follow, and that no one can find or choose it for another. May you find your path, and follow it with joy.