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My Vegan Story

by Jacque Salomon, founder of Seeds to Inspire Foundation.

I have been a Vegan my whole life and I didn’t know it. Veganism, to me, is a way of viewing the world. Another lens through which one filters ideas, perceptions, and understandings of the world. I was born into a culture and society of survival, scarcity, conflict, threat, and violence with some happy times and beautiful human connections sprinkled in and around the landscape of my life.

It was always clear to me that I did not quite “accept” the world I was born into. I was not immune to its conditioning and intention for me, but just aware enough to feel the battle for health, life, and Truth deeply within my soul.

I paid the price for this awareness. I was bullied, ridiculed, and isolated. All for not ever feeling comfortable pretending to be something I wasn’t. And when I tried, I was not very good at it, so I felt alone a lot. When one seeks to know deeply who they are and why it hurts so much to Be, we recognize that suffering in others.

Human animals are deeply spiritual beings and long for connection and an answer to who we are and why we are here. It is so clear to me now that as question marks in search of our answers those of us who have been belittled, bullied, and intimidated into shrinking and hiding our light have been fighting for the right to Be. And once one regains sovereignty over their own voice and own right to exist just as they are, they fight with their last breath to defend that right in others. When one recognizes their own Divinity, they honor the Divinity in Others. The right to Be who we are born to be.

I learned through all my battlefronts — health advocacy, human advocacy, education reform, climate activism, animal rights activism, social justice reform, decolonization, indigenous rights, food justice, environmental justice, on and on — that what I was doing was standing between human supremacy in its most current and malevolent iterations, White Supremacy and all its verticals. This awakening changed my world forever.

In 2016, this obese brown girl from the projects of New York had enough. My family was diagnosed with so many chronic diseases, and the only recourse offered over and over were procedures and pharmaceuticals. No one was asking about the stress on my heart or brain due to income inequality, education inequality, ancestral PTSD, collective trauma, bills, etc. I was petrified of losing more people I loved. So, when the only solutions offered to my family were pills and surgery, I said no more. I knew intuitively that as beings of this Earth, Nature would always restore balance if we provided her the right conditions. After months of searching, I came across the documentary Forks Over Knives and our lives changed forever.

I learned to change the chemistry of my body by eliminating certain items from my plate that were sourced from suffering, pain, disease, and greed. I stopped ingesting the same exploitation, pain, and fear I had been experiencing my entire life; a knowledge alive and whispering to me deep within my genes, my ancestral inheritance. Instead, I chose to invite foods of life and light and within days my mind became clearer, my thoughts more powerful. I found my agency again, and that is powerful medicine for the Soul.

Today I have lost 164 pounds and reversed my Type 2 Diabetes, Hypertension, gastric reflux, somatic disorder, and anxiety. I am on no medications, and at 49 years old, am living my best life. When the truth about my food choices came to my awareness it was paradigm shifting. Yes, I am healthier. Yes, I am literally half of the woman I was — at my heaviest I weighed 328 pounds. Yes, my family has regained their health. But there is so much more that this journey has gifted me.

The awareness of the impact my food choices had — not only on my health and the health of my family, but on planetary health and the suffering I was enabling with every bite — was heavy on my spirit. I felt as if I had betrayed myself by betraying those more helpless who were suffering the same exploitation I had suffered. The system had made me an enemy of myself and all I thought was good about myself. 

I transitioned my entire family, overnight, to a Whole Foods Plant-Based lifestyle — not just for Us, but for the health of the Whole. When I learned what I didn’t know, I realized how much I have yet to know and I dove head first into learning all I could to understand how all of this knowledge had been kept from me.

The fact is that our food choices are inherited, they are not ours. And when we challenge someone’s food choices, we are asking them to question the oldest and deepest understanding of who they are as individuals, people in culture, society, and family. The word Vegan is perceived to challenge tradition and identity so deeply when, in my view, it is a profound reflection of the question: are your thoughts, words, and actions aligned with the story of who you think you really are? Don’t we all owe it to ourselves to do some real introspection and find out the answer; to understand why we hold on so deeply to what is considered “FOOD”?

To me, being Vegan is a moral ethic that embraces the understanding that We must stand up to oppression in all its forms. We must stand between Nature and all threats to Life and Truth. We must stand for Health, Justice, Peace, and the Right to Be.

I have been Vegan my whole life and I didn’t know it. When I became aware of how devastating my food choices were — not only to the health and well being of my family, but to my community, my culture, my ancestral legacy, Earth, non-human animals, the planet — I chose health. I chose Truth, and I chose the right to be healthy. For myself and for the Whole.


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