Perspective Piece: “Evolution of a Vegan”

Drum roll please…. We are so excited to finally launch Community Leeks. Our goal was to create a space where people could share their stories, recipes, resources or sustainable lifestyle practices. We want to build a community of people who want to talk about healing our Earth. Our first entry is a colleague/friend’s personal journey towards dietary change. Thank you Jeff for taking this leap of faith with us and being willing to open up and share your story.


The Evolution of a Vegan
By Jeff Sykes

Like most North Americans, I grew up obsessed with the outdoors, loving the animal kingdom and eating meat. I never saw a contradiction. Most people still don’t, and I am fine with that. The changes I have made in my life are MY changes. I never try to convince others of how or what they should or shouldn’t eat. My friends and family, even my children, make their own choices about nutrition. For me, those changes began after I sustained a serious head injury that left me with many health challenges. I became obsessed with doing anything I could to improve the way I felt. Nothing makes one focus on good health better than losing it. I came across a book called The China Study. I read it, and that was it for me. My life would never be the same. The book essentially makes the case that consuming animal protein can lead to many of the health problems our society currently faces and that the healthiest diet is a whole food, plant based diet. This book and issue will be debated for many years I am sure, and I respect everyone’s opinion, but for me, I was sold. I became a vegetarian the next day and have not eaten meat since. As I read more about a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, I realized that many things that had been lying dormant under the surface began to emerge. There is a strong case that a whole food, plant based diet is much better for the environment for reasons too many to name here. However, perhaps the most satisfying part of this lifestyle change for me was that I was no longer eating animals. I love animals!! I think they have as much right to this planet as I do. I won’t even kill spiders anymore, but that’s just me.
So here I am, 11 years later, and I don’t miss animal protein, I have found some great new recipes. I rarely feel bad after a meal, and I feel like I am doing something, albeit just a small something, to help our environment and to preserve the animal world that I love so much. I never preach or try to convert. Everyone has his or her story. This is mine, and I’m sticking to it.


About the Author:

Jeff is a secondary school English and Art teacher, a loving father and devoted husband. When he is not in the classroom, Jeff can be found enjoying the quiet moments creating art – beautiful pieces that captures the very essence of our Earth. He is an accomplished musician and athlete, and is currently writing music that combines piano and the sounds of Tiebetan Singing Bowls for meditation. Jeff practices tai chi and meditates daily. He is deeply connected to the people in his life, offering love, support and guidance in his gentle and compassionate way.


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