posted August 9, 2022

I believe that people who feel strongly about their political philosophies, their religious beliefs, their workout regimens, and their diets, tend to become very passionate and committed to those aspects of their lives. And that we surround ourselves with people who support our way of thinking, avoiding zealots who think differently.

Bobbi with her yearling filly, Cashew. Photo credit: Bobbi Giudicelli –

Veganism has become one of those things where you’re either in or out. While I’ve never been on a high horse about politics (my opinions are stronger in this past decade) or religion, prior to transitioning to veganism, I felt conversations with vegans were preachy. I didn’t disagree with what was said but didn’t feel open to the possibility. As I had secretively struggled with a toxic relationship with food my entire life, I checked out if the conversation was about eating differently.

I don’t recall when I consumed my last bit of animal product or purchased a down quilt or leather boots. There were signs that veganism was to become a big part of who I am, however don’t know the exact date as it happened gradually, over about five years.

Here were my signs:

Being With Animals of Any Kind Brought Me Solace

Bobbi with her four rescued dogs: Harper, Lexi, Codi, Hank. Photo credit: Bobbi Giudicelli

I had a somewhat difficult childhood and was not happy during my pre-teen and teenage years. Whenever I brought home stray cats or dogs my parents would put them out of the house. My house was not peaceful and little attention was paid to us kids.

I felt seen and acknowledged when I was with animals. My parents finally got us a dog when I was 13 years old, and that dog quickly became more important to me than my parents and siblings. I’ve never been without animal companions since then, and never meet anyone who loves animals more than I do.

A Healthcare Provider Recommended a Vegan Diet

In my early 50s, I found a new doctor to address a hormone imbalance, chronic fatigue, digestive issues, and inflammation. By then I had built up a mistrust of doctors in general, so I always started out the visit with skepticism. After five minutes discussing my symptoms, she proclaimed with little explanation, a vegan diet could resolve all of my problems. I left her office, never to return, satisfying my self-fulfilling prophecy of wariness of doctors.

Mad Cow Disease Touched My Family

Bobbi’s mare, Bean, and her gelding Almond. (All of her horses are named WFPB foods that she eats.) Photo credit: Bobbi Guidicelli

In 1995, my stepmother died of Creutzfeldt Jacob Disease, the human form of mad cow disease. It is very rare, always fatal, and comes with very progressive, horrendous symptoms. Ironically, after we (her friends and family) witnessed the nine months of hell she experienced before her passing, not one of us thought it might be a good idea to stop eating meat.

Most vegans I know were motivated first for health reasons. Later, these same people embrace this ethical lifestyle as more sustainable for the planet and consider the welfare of animals. I believe that we in the vegan community cannot afford to approach the world as zealots. We can drop morsels along the way, but until someone is open to the conversation, it does not work to preach. We should be role models, available for discussions when asked, and try to identify their audience’s trigger, where compassion and empathy would make a difference.

If I had considered the parallels between every mangy dog I picked up off the street and the chickens raised for our consumption, or if I had the wherewithal to explore why the doctor was suggesting veganism, or if I had explored the deplorable conditions of the beef and dairy industries and the link to mad cow disease in the 1990s…maybe my life would have been changed right then.

For all of us vegans and for all future vegans, we need to be willing to meet people where they are and be a role model for change rather than preach. After all, who doesn’t want to take better care of themselves, animals, and the planet?

 

Photo credit: Bobbi Giudicelli

Bobbi Giudicelli is a serial entrepreneur and author of Freedom From A Toxic Relationship With Food: A Journey That Will Give You Your Life Back, describing her journey from disordered eating to a Whole Food, Plant-Based (WFPB) diet and vegan lifestyle.  Her latest venture, Read the Ingredients, co-founded with her oldest son, offers the cleanest WFPB baked and packaged functional bread. Bobbi’s passion for sharing her journey, the origin of Read the Ingredients, and motivation to write her book came from her struggle with food issues for so many years. Her website is Food Freedom Advocate.

In her spare time, you can find Bobbi outdoors, active with her four horses, four dogs, three cats, and six grandchildren.

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