Daphne Stevens: A Vegan Journey

daphne-stevensGuest Author Daphne Stevens

This month we are honored to feature Daphne Stevens as our Guest Author! Daphne embraces life and is passionate about repairing and saving the Earth.

In addition to working to get the word out about becoming vegan, she volunteers as a director for two organizations, one of which is the Green Party US. She is currently reading and learning about Buddhism and discovering a gentler way to walk on this earth. Her 30 years of activist work for the planet and her volunteer work are the culmination of her passion to save the Earth.  Read more …

I am honored to have Daphne’s story become a part of the WPW collective.  Please welcome her!

A Vegan Journey

What you learn when you are young, you learn best. I remember reading that maxim at some point in my life but it might help to explain why so few people become vegan and why it took me so long.

I was raised in a meat/fish eating household during the 1940s and 1950s. Dairy was an important beverage as my parents weren’t coffee drinkers so we all drank and loved milk. Eggs were readily consumed too. The others loved cheese. Dinner was the typical meat, potato and vegetable.

Years later when my husband and I managed a historic farm property, we soon started raising pigs, sheep and chickens. We really loved those animals and took special care of them. My pigs had the cleanest pen around. I did hate loading those larger animals on a pickup truck to take to the slaughter house, hearing the frantic screams and baas. I felt badly when we left them but was already thinking of all the meat we were going to enjoy.

During those years at the farm, I also became involved with Massachusetts Audubon, taking classes and giving tours where I could share my growing knowledge and love for all of nature. I had always loved being outside. As a young child, we lived adjacent to an abandoned railroad track, which was wonderful to explore, in any season, looking for wildlife. I also loved visiting my uncle who knew all about wildflowers. As we would explore my grandfather’s orchard, he would teach me about flowers, trees, shrubs and birds. My most precious memories were exploring with my uncle. My uncle lived to 89 still religiously drinking his milk but by then had also had much of his colon removed.

Also during those farm years, I started learning that the planet was being abused, leaving us all in potential danger. The “safe” Malathion used to kill mosquitoes would also kill fish and also ruin the finish of your car. I felt as though I had risen from a long sleep. All the nature study, reading and course I had taken hadn’t prepared me for the news that our government was willingly causing harm to the landscape and the wildlife I loved. I learned about Rachel Carson and the dangers of DDT. My journey as an activist began.

I will never forget meeting my first vegetarian and saying to myself, I could never do that, thinking mostly about pork products. Fortunately for us, the groundwork for healthy eating began at the farm with our large vegetable garden, apple and pear trees, and grape vines. I even found currants at the edge of a field. We learned to can, putting up 5 cases of quarts of tomatoes and freezing enough applesauce for dessert for the next year. We also made and drank cider. I can’t say meat, dairy and eggs became less important but vegetables and fruit consumption rose dramatically during those years. I do remember eating a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches and various vegetable soups. My friend’s comments about vegetarianism gradually began to sink in. I also started learning more negatives about the food industry so we became vegetarians. My last meat was a locally grown Free Range turkey for Thanksgiving. We had already become vegetarian but my family was coming and they expected the traditional turkey with all the trimmings. I hated the way the meat hissed and spat almost as if it were alive, mocking me. I wish I could say that I didn’t eat any but I did along with the stuffing and gravy. That Thanksgiving day, I learned that I could not eat meat again.

My journey wasn’t over. I read and listened to people discussing eggs. We began to buy only organic but learned that those eggs aren’t as good as those from Free Range chickens. So we bought our eggs from our local organic farmer that we regularly purchased vegetables from to supplement what we grew. The only two other non- vegan foods we were eating were wild salmon from Trader Joes and organic yogurt. I also took fish oil supplements. We believed we were doing our best for the planet and ourselves. Being an activist environmentalist, I had long been aware how detrimental livestock was to the environment yet convinced ourselves that we eat so little animal food.

I would meet vegans and say, I could never do that until one day at the Worcester Veg Fest, we talked to a woman who explained about the cruelty inflicted on chickens and chicks. I told her about Chris, our farmer who raises Free Range chickens and how incredible his eggs are. She replied that he probably only buys female chicks which are half of the chick population. I was shocked by what happens to the male chicks. Though, I had seen the movie “Food Inc”. I had a serious disconnect somewhere. At home, we read through all the literature we had collected. I also started reading a book I had purchased from the author J Morris Hicks “HEALTHY EATING HEALTHY WORLD”. I soon was introduced to all the people that I have now read so much about: T Colin Campbell, John and Ocean Robbins, Neal Barnard MD, Dean Ornish, MD, Joel Furman, MD, and Caldwell B Esselstyn JR. MD.

I realized the learning curve for becoming vegan was much steeper than for becoming vegetarian. For the past 1½ years, I have immersed myself into finding the best information on what we need to be healthy. For example, taking enough vitamins B and D are essential. The other part of this is finding vegan supplements and vitamins. I am still working on good sources for organic vegan, bulk supplements. I do take Vegan Protect by Mega Foods for my multi vitamin.

While living on the farm we joined a co-op to buy in bulk, to save money, use less packaging and to only buy organic. We still belong to a co-op for the same reasons but have also discovered that we need more than what the co-ops offer so we have branched out to direct buying. Finding protein powder and nuts were two of our main reasons. We also needed to find “sales” so having other options helped. Our favorite bulk online sources are: rawfoods.com, wildernesspoets.com, nutiva.com, bulkfoods.com and wildernessfamilynaturals.com.

My path to be vegan began because of my love for the planet and my fear for its future. Many other avenues have opened on this journey. I had long been a pacifist but my feeling deepened and my heart broadened to include all sentient beings. Good health comes from eating well which I was long aware of but now learned that there are dangers associated with eating meat dairy, fish and eggs both through the government’s lack of oversight and the food products themselves. Studying Buddhism has helped me grow spiritually, opening me up to be more accepting of the vegan path. I have happily survived the journey and enriched my life.

Thank you for inviting me to be your January speaker, Daphne Stevens proud to be a vegan.


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6 Responses to Daphne Stevens: A Vegan Journey

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  • Karen Renaud says:

    Thanks, Daphne, for your story. I can relate to it!
    My husband and I have been vegetarian since 1974. We became vegans in March of 2006. I wish we had become vegans in 1974 (or before)! We raised four children as vegetarian. Today, two of them are vegans and one of them is vegetarian.
    Four of our nine grandchildren are vegan, two are vegetarian.
    Daphne, I would recommend that you look into supplements and protein powders before consuming more of these. Drs John McDougall, Michael Klaper, T. Colin Campbell, etc, recommend against multi-vitamins. I have certificates in nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Foundation through Cornell, from Dr. McDougall’s Starch Solution Certification Course, and in Diet and Lifestyle Intervention through Pam Popper’s Wellness Forum Institute. Through these studies and others, my husband and I made the decision not to take any vitamins except B12 (and get adequate sunlight for vitamin D).
    As for protein powders, I understand your concerns. When I first went vegan I still ate vegan meat substitutes, feeling I needed the protein from them. I now know that eating a whole-foods vegan diet with enough calories always gives one enough protein.
    (The body cannot store extra protein; it is hard on the body to have to get rid of any excess protein you eat.)
    Nuts are fine, but should usually be limited to about a handful a day.
    Another thing you might find interesting: My husband and I eat an oil-free whole food vegan diet. Our omega 3s come from the tablespoon or two of ground flaxseed we put on our oatmeal each day, and from the greens we eat. Last year we took part in a study done by Dr. Fuhrman, who believes that it might be prudent for long-term vegans to take micro-algae supplements. Our blood test results showed that all our essential fatty acid levels are just where they are supposed to be. No supplementation is necessary because we don’t consume processed foods (except very rarely, and then only something like organic crackers and/or Daiya Cheese for a holiday) and don’t use oils.
    If you or anyone else would like more information on this or have other nutritional questions, I would be happy to help you find answers. My way of doing this is to guide people to articles by MDs, PhDs, dietitians, etc. I do not charge for this service.
    My email address is MichiganKarenR@aol. com
    Thanks again, and good luck to you always!

  • Marlene says:

    Daphne, Thank you for your heart-warming and beautiful piece. This post about the courageous and conscientious journey that you, Nature woman and Earth man, have experienced is inspirational.

    I can relate to your statement, “What you learn when you are young…” When I was a child, I would walk with my sister through the neighborhood and we would pass by the egg-laying hens farm. Outside the building were 55 gallon drums, filled to the brim, with peeping (crying) newly-hatched male chicks. They were being suffocated to death.

    This daily practice of mercilessness and cruelty, instigated and perpetuated by the carnist demand to consume the menstrual secretions of hens, was never (still isn’t) discussed at school nor church. So.. the naturally inquisitive, compassionate hearts of young girls developed “a serious disconnect”, and thus began our cultural indoctrination of speciesism. It took me several decades to make the connection, give a cluck, and go vegan.

    It’s revolutionary (evolutionary) to see that Ruby Roth has skillfully authored the children’s books, V is for Vegan – the ABC’s of Being Kind, and Vegan is Love. http://www.wedonteatanimals.com/store

    Daphne, you bring peace. Thank you for sharing your story, and I look forward to reading more of your inspirational writings.

    One Love, One Earth.

  • Stefan Gutwin says:

    Thank you for this great contribution, Daphne! With your honesty, you show so well how it is a journey made of a lot of steps to evolve more and more, messing it up occasionally and not being aware of still more dots that need to be connected, until we finally inevitably get it right and find our way out of all the violence and indifference we have been indoctrinated into.

  • Tara says:

    Daphne, your life’s story is truly a beautiful evolution. I wish this for all.

    And you perfectly exemplify the purpose of the WPW collective, although I see that for many (me too) it is a beckoning cause, one that evolves to veganism for many:
    To reveal Veganism as the creative cause for intuitive wisdom, spiritual fulfillment, and peaceful evolution …

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