My Path to Becoming a Vegan LifeStyle Advocate

September 11, 2018 | by: Jacqui Letran

I’m a meat eater. I love meat! I could never give up the pleasure of eating meat! Not now. Not ever.

That was me for the first 45 years of my life. I am a self-proclaimed foodie and my life often seems to revolve around food. Even when I’m enjoying my current meal, I’m thinking about and planning my next meal. Images of meat-filled dishes filled my mind. I looked forward to biting into the delicious morsels of meat, delighting my taste buds, and filling myself with pleasure and comfort.

For most of my life, I have had a strong dislike for vegetables. Growing up poor in Vietnam, meat was a treat. We had a small portion of meat when there was a cause for celebration - a holiday, when we did something very praise-worthy, or when we had visitors we wanted to honor. I’ve learned to associate vegetables with a “commoner’s” meal, and meat as a treat that is highly desirable and sought after.

When I came to America meat was plentiful. Unbeknown to me, I still carried my belief about meat and would avoid vegetables whenever possible. I did not have my first salad as a stand-alone meal until I was well into my thirties. And even then, it was loaded with one meat or another, and eggs. I loved eggs too.

I remember the exact moment that my belief about meat changed. I was standing in my kitchen wielding a large clever and chopping up a whole chicken. This is something I have done at least a hundred times before. But there was something different that day.

As I was standing there chopping up the chicken, I started to cry. At first, it was just a couple of tears rolling down my face. Before I know it, I was bawling like a baby. I was overcome with deep sadness and sorrow. I stood there and stared at the mutilated body of this chicken in horror. I did this. I chopped up the body of what used to be a living being. All I could think about was, “Would I do this to one of my pets?” They are about the same size as this chicken.

My husband and I have joked many times when our cats would lay in a certain way that they were working on perfecting their “turkey” pose. Images of my cats brutalized this way flashed through my mind. I quickly pushed those images away because I could not bear the pain of it all. I love my cats and my dog. They were not animal. They were not pets. They were my boys, my children.

I sat down on the kitchen floor and continued to sob. My dog, Frosty came by to snuggle with me. He always knows when I need love and he readily gives it to me. A little time later, all three of my cat boys came into the kitchen. I cried even harder. I knew I was forever changed.

I have been an animal lover all of my life. I’ve always had a pet or two whom I adored and dote endless affection upon. I’ve never stopped to see the differences between pets and animals being used as meat. After all, growing up on a farm in Vietnam, it was very normal for me to play with the chickens or pigs and then enjoy them as a glorious meal later that same day.

Joseph and I talked about my experience later that night. We decided it was time to start the shift to becoming vegetarians. I threw away the whole chickens I had left in the freezer and vowed never to buy a whole chicken again.

We started eating more and more vegetables. We replaced the majority of our land meat with eggs and fish. We spent extra money to buy pasture-raised eggs because we only wanted to eat eggs from a happy chicken who was free to roam. We felt great! We knew deep in our heart that being a vegetarian and avoiding all land meat was in full alignment with our heart, mind, and spirit. We made the commitment to become full-pledged pesco-vegetarians by the beginning of 2018.

I’ve heard about the documentaries Forks over Knives, and What the Health. I knew that once I watch those movies, I wouldn’t be able to eat meat anymore. Joseph and I planned to spend New Year’s Eve watching these movies so that we can start 2018 on the best possible note.

New Year's Eve came and went. We decided we did not need to watch those movies because we have been doing so well on our own. We only ate meat once or twice a week, and mainly when we went out. We thought our lifestyle change was good enough. We didn’t need to deny ourselves of anything. As long as our meat consumption was only a few times a week; there was no reason to give it up completely.

On May 19, 2018, we visited my sister and brother-in-law in Florida. Our only intention was to attend my niece’s graduation and enjoy some down time with our family. But that night, I was just ready. Just like that time I cried like a baby while chopping that chicken, it came out of nowhere. I just knew it was time to watch one of those movies and put an end to my meat consumption. 

My sister, Kim, who has been eating primarily plant-based meals, suggested we watch Cowspiracy. I’ve never heard of this movie before but was curious about the title. 

I couldn’t stop crying the first five minutes of the movie. And although I watched the rest of the movie about how our animal agriculture was harming the earth and how our meat consumption caused so much of our health problems, none of that fully registered with me. The image of the cow’s sad eyes as it’s being forced into the slaughterhouse consumed my thoughts and cemented my decision to stop eating meat. 

At that moment, I freely and happily gave up eating land meat forever. I decided to honor my previous decision to become a pesco-vegetarian. I still didn’t feel compelled to stop eating seafood and eggs.

On June 9, 2018, Joseph and I attended the VeganFest in our hometown, Asheville. We did not attend the VeganFest to become Vegans, we just wanted to listen to the panelists talk about Vegans and Spirituality.

When one of the speakers, Earthling Ed, shared a story he had read about chicken abuse by the chicken farming industry that shook his meat-eating ways and caused him to eventually become an animal rights activist, I couldn’t stop crying. I turned to look at Joseph and saw that he also had tears running down his cheeks. We both were filled with deep sorrow for all these beautiful animals and their suffering. We squeezed one another’s hand and through tears filled eyes, we made a commitment to become Vegans.

The three panelists talked about how it’s our responsibility to share our knowledge with others, to stand up against animal cruelty, and to protect our earth. That didn’t sound completely peaceful to me. I have seen too many horrific pictures of animal cruelty and all it did was bring me down. It did not cause me to want to fight for the animals. It only made me sad and depleted my energy. But when Renee King-Sonnen from Rowdy Girl Sanctuary shared her story, she said something that made complete sense to me, and that was, “Truth has one, Path has many.” That one statement brought me peace and compelled me to take action.

I've been on this path now for 3 months and I'm learning a lot. Every day is a new opportunity for me to learn more, do more, and share more.

I am in complete alignment with knowing there is only one truth, but there are many paths to get to the truth. I have no desire to tell you what to do, or which path to take. Only you can make that decision for yourself. Your path is your path, as my path is mine. What I’m hoping to do in sharing my journey, my path, with you is that it might inspire you to look at your current path and decide for yourself if that’s the path you are most happy, fulfilled and at peace with or if it's time to re-examine your path and make new choices.

One Truth.

One Love.

About the Author

Jacqui Letran 
Mindset Mentor & Vegan Lifestyle Advocate

Jacqui is a Multi-Award Winning Author, Mindset Mentor, Podcaster, and Vegan Lifestyle Advocate. Jacqui specializes in helping her clients transform their critical internal voice into a voice of love and support for themselves. Jacqui is on a mission to help people live a fulfilled life with a deep love for themselves, the planet, and all beings. When not working, Jacqui can be found hiking in nature or spoiling her five 4 legged children.

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