The Intentional Vegan ::: Why I Left Meat Forever

by guest blogger Jeff Sanders

I grew up eating meat and lots of it. For 25 years I was a human garbage disposal. Toss anything my way – scraps of food, leftovers, stuff that fell on the ground, you name it. Whatever it was, I would eat it.

When I turned 25 I moved across the country, got married, got my first dog, and I changed jobs. It was a very busy year. However, the biggest change occurred when I looked back at all that had happened and realized none of it was an accident.

I had planned to move, planned to get married, planned to buy my dog, and even planned to leave my old job for something much better.

The realization immediately inspired me to ask the obvious question, “Why was I not planning every important aspect of my life?

My eyes opened up to the reality that I was mindlessly going through life. Most importantly, I was unintentionally shoveling harmful food down my throat every day.

Personal Growth

The next stepped seemed obvious – it was time to educate myself on what true health looks like. I quickly began reading books, subscribing to blogs, and watchingearthlings documentaries on natural health, vegetarianism, and optimal exercise training programs.

I began exposing myself to information that was brand new to me. I didn’t know about fatty toxins, soy-based meat substitutes, organic farming practices, juicing, green smoothies, or raw food.

Within a few months I stumbled upon the movie that has influenced me more than anything else I have ever seen. I watched the now famous underground documentary, Earthlings.

Earthlings exposes the treatment of animals across the board, from entertainment and scientific research, to clothing and the use of animals as food for human kind.

Throughout the 90 minutes of this film I sat dumbfounded. I cried. I got angry. I went numb. I could not believe that I had never seen the truth before.

There is one scene that sticks with me from the film that I can’t get out my head. A stray dog in India is tossed into the back of a garbage truck by the driver and then smashed alive along with the rest of the trash.

Watching the dog’s innocent face up until the last second before he is smashed is absolutely gut wrenching.

No one before had even dared to share footage like this with me. I had to find it myself.

As I completed viewing the film I knew in an instant that I would become a vegan for life. It didn’t take any additional research, willpower, or extreme boot camp discipline to keep meat away from my dinner plate.

I had what I had been searching for - my WHY.


Start with WHY "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how" ::: Friedrich Nietzsche

Simon Sinek is the author of Start With Why, a popular book on how to accomplish just about anything. He argues that the most successful leaders in the world who share a powerful message, complete an enormous task, or inspire the masses are all driven by an unshakable resolve.

They have a WHY to live for and it dictates their every decision. That is the role of Earthlings in my life. The horrific treatment of animals around the world is my WHY.

No Need to Argue

I don’t have to debate whether or not to order a bison burger or a veggie burger.

I don’t argue with my wife whether or not I will share a dish of cheesy chicken nachos.

I don’t discuss with anyone my choice to avoid leather, fur, suede, silk, or wool when I buy new clothes.

I don’t have to think about these things because they are second nature to me now - but this wasn’t always the case.

I was affected so dramatically by watching Earthlings that I can draw up images of animal torture and intense cruelty on the spot. When I see a cheeseburger, I mentally picture a cow with a slit throat, being dangled by one leg as it writhes, kicks, and screams itself to death.

In many cases the cows are skinned alive.

The pictures in my head are vivid, disturbing, and awful. That’s exactly why it is so easy now to say no to animal products. I don’t need willpower or discipline. I simply think of the animals in need and my choice is made for me.

I act in accordance with my WHY and intentionally choose to live differently.

I Was Scared I am not the same person I was when I “thrived” as a human garbage disposal. I am a holistically different and better person.

Looking back on my transformation from a Standard American Diet to a raw vegan, I thought that I would miss cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, and barbecued pork. I was so addicted to the meat that I could not visualize feeling satisfied with “boring” fruits and vegetables.

I was scared to radically change my diet – scared to try new things – scared to walk away from my old self.

The funny thing is that my emotions were biologically founded. My mind and body had been hardwired to love meat and dislike traditional health food. Twenty-five years of eating highly addictive, processed food is a powerful way to alter your brain.

It took many months of intense detoxing and retraining my body to learn to love organic produce instead of beef. In many ways I am still in this process more than two years later.

I don’t regret the decision and I am very thankful for the extreme health benefits I now experience: improved mental clarity, more energy, 40 pounds of weight loss, and many others.

Earthlings was the catalyst that started my personal health revolution. I believe it can be yours as well.

You can watch Earthlings for free at

Jeff Sanders blogs at about personal growth, daily habits, and thriving as a vegan athlete. You can get a copy of his book, “Life Without Bacon,” at