My Vegan Journey: Seeking Health, Finding Compassion

Over five years ago, I decided to make the switch to veganism for 99% completely selfish reasons.

About a month after being diagnosed with a “progressive and incurable neurological disease” with no known cause, cure or truly viable treatment, I decided, out of oppressive desperation, to search for a remedy to my situation and avoid the dismal outcome that any Google search of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome uncovers.

One of the many blessings (yes, I said BLESSINGS) of being diagnosed with a disease that has no cure or truly viable treatment is that it forced me, unrelenting, stubborn me, to search for alternative treatments and lifestyle habits that could offer a cure or, at the very least, a way to maintain my condition, avoiding that frightening, send-shivers-down-your-spine word, “progression”.

Maria Mooney: I jumped into veganism with both feet motivated by a desire to feel better and a curiosity to know more

My first steps into veganism

I jumped into veganism with both feet motivated by a desire to feel better and a curiosity to know more. The first year of my vegan journey went to perfecting my diet and lifestyle and ridding them of the obvious animal products: animal flesh and products like milk, cheese, butter and honey.

Then I progressed to eliminating my use of leather, wool, suede and the not so obvious products derived from animal parts, like gelatin. This followed by eliminating products that use animal parts in their manufacturing, like certain types of wines and white table sugar, as well as products that were tested on animals, like certain shampoos and makeup.

Completing the circle

My move to ethical veganism has developed over the past year, as I have continued to learn more and clean up my act. I always cared greatly about animals as a small child and into my adult years, but despite my life-long love of animals, I was ignorant and uneducated about the horrors of factory farming and the overabundance of animal cruelty present in the Standard American Diet.

Over the years, I’ve had several “Ooops!” moments, like when I thought my broccoli was sautéed in olive oil and it was really sautéed in butter (yuck… always ask!) or when I realized my shampoo wasn’t vegan. I don’t beat myself up over mistakes that were made innocently. I just make sure I don’t make the same mistakes again. Veganism is an evolution, and as time goes by and I gain knowledge, I continue to make adjustments.

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Maria Mooney: I’m not perfect, but if it is within my control and reasonable, I try to do everything I can, not to support the commodification of animals.

Be kind to yourself

I’m not perfect, and I doubt I ever will be as many things in our society are somehow in some convoluted way tied back to the exploitation of animals, but if it is within my control and reasonable, I try to do everything I can, not to support the commodification of animals.

I also don’t judge others who do because veganism, to me, is also about living out my values of non-violence, kindness, non-judgment, compassion, mercy and empathy in all areas of my life. I try my best to do this while also educating others about the cruelty that our sweet animal friends endure.

My diet is always vegan, no exceptions, but those other aspects of life that can get tricky, I continue to adjust. I am happy to report that all of my self-care products are now vegan, and I haven’t made the big broccoli blunder, of thinking it vegan when it isn’t, since! 

As for my health, veganism has been and continues to be my method of treatment. Currently, I am undertaking a rigorous nutritional and detoxification program that involves a vegan diet (of course), and I am already seeing results. Part of the treatment calls for a small amount of “yogurt sauce” that I will be replacing with spirulina when the time comes; as part of veganism entails one making vegan choices in his/her life whenever it is possible and reasonable. I have abundant faith in my body’s propensity toward self-healing and in veganism as way to heal myself and the planet.


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Maria Mooney, MSW, LSW, is a raw vegan licensed social worker, certified holistic health coach, research and editorial assistant at Visit Maria's website to learn more, and follow her on Twitter @HappyHealing44