One cloudy morning when I was working as a TV journalist in Florida, completely burnt out from waking up at 1:45 in the morning every day, I was getting ready for one of many live shots for our morning show hours before sunrise. 

The story I was reporting on was fairly disturbing in detail — not out of the ordinary for a typical day working in news — and involved the discovery of a drug trafficking operation that, oddly enough, was also the site of the collection of exotic animals that were severely abused — some dying, some already dead. After my disclosure to viewers that what they were about to hear was graphic, I proceeded to list, live on air, the senseless mutilation that, for reasons I will never understand, was performed on the animals. 

In between live hits, I watched people as they began crowding the roads with their cars during rush hour. Some stopping at one of the many fast food restaurants, while others — particularly large vehicles driven by men with big egos — sped up purposely near our live crew which emanated black smoke from the exhaust stacks of their heavy duty diesel trucks (this happened often, and was apparently comical to the drivers while we live on TV). 

I have always been the kind of person who perhaps thinks just a little too much. So, naturally, my mind raced with emotions. I was angry about the story I was reporting on, knowing it would be ‘one and done’ coverage — after all, only an hour later I was called by my assignment manager to cover an accident on the highway. 

What impact or change was my “journalism” having on the community? Was anybody actually listening or would anyone care? Why was watching car after car drive by causing me so much angst? Cars are basically the golden standard for environmental destruction, right? Look at everyone driving up to a fast food restaurant at only 6AM — is this all really sustainable?

I knew that I was stressed, and ultimately, only until I stopped eating animals did I address what kind of impact that was having on my work, my personal life and my well-being. 

How veganism helped me change what I could control and accept what I couldn’t

Maybe I owe this to my journalism career. I’ve always been naturally curious and was trained to think critically — about everything, essentially.

Sadly, while that animal abuse story may have been the most vile I ever covered, it certainly wasn’t the only one I reported on. But something happened afterward that triggered me to pay more attention, research and understand the ways in which humans use animals for our own benefits, and ultimately, realize they aren’t ours to use at all.

One day, after debating with myself over and over again and Googling “why humans need meat” or “how human teeth reveal why we’re carnivores”, I realized I was just trying to cover up what I already knew I needed to do. I accepted the fact that I myself had been contributing to the abuse of animals for my entire life. I accepted the fact that livestock emissions makeup anywhere between 14.5 to 18 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions and that livestock farming is hugely responsible for producing methane, according to the EPA. I also realized that I, too, had been supporting a cruel, careless industry that was not only a main reason for heart disease in the United States, but one that has the most negative impact on the environment. 

After feeling utterly defeated one day, I came across a stat: according to an Oxford University study published in the journal of Science, going vegan is the single biggest way you can reduce your environmental impact on the planet. By going vegan for just one month, I’d save 30 animal lives, 620 pounds of harmful carbon dioxide emissions, 913 square feet of forest and 33,481 gallons of water. 

Upon embracing this movement, I almost instantly felt more connected with all beings, found myself to be a more compassionate individual, as well as a more understanding journalist while covering stories. This was, without a doubt, one of the hardest and most extreme changes I’ve ever made personally. As a result, it forced me to realize that I was done waiting and hoping that life would happen the way I wanted it to. It was truly a ripple effect on so many levels. 

Aside from the cruelty, health and environmental reasons for going vegan, I began taking control of what I wanted my life to be: filled with purpose, productivity and happiness. That also meant having to address the other problem areas of my life, like leaving a destructive relationship, discontinuing the pursuit of a career that — deep down — I felt no longer served me well despite being rewarding while it lasted, and surrounding myself with like minded individuals that I could learn and grow from.

Leaving stress behind and beginning my new life of purpose

There was a period while working as a journalist when I felt I wasn’t applying my skills in the best and most impactful way I could. Rather than simply reporting stories, I felt like I could be making a bigger impact with a more hands-on approach. Instead, I could choose what industries and movements I wanted to support rather than being assigned a story or spending my morning trying to come up with an idea for our newscast that impacted our most watched zip codes.

Once I transitioned to a career in public relations, and now after launching my own agency Propulsion PR, I’m able to play a direct role in the lives of my clients and the success of businesses I care about — even vegan companies centered around a mission of sustainability. Sure, going vegan didn’t directly get me to leave the news business and pursue a path in PR, but I can almost say for certain that if I hadn’t gone vegan, I perhaps wouldn’t have thought so in depth about my life, the impact my choices have on my own well-being and the well-being of others.

Merging passion with work

Today, there’s so much talk about how your passion doesn’t need to be your work or that it’s important to not define yourself by your work. While that may be true to an extent, wouldn’t it be more impactful to merge what you love with what you do for others? 

After embracing a vegan lifestyle, my sleep improved exponentially, my body transformed to a new level of fitness, stress decreased and energy propelled. I credit all of this to listening to myself. Only until I did that did I become a more compassionate being, more impactful at work and while also holding the capability of being able to leave stress at the doorstep at the end of the day.

Of course, I’d love it if everyone gave veganism a shot. The domino effect it has had on my life has been incredible, and after all, it is the future. But at the very least, challenge yourself to think outside the box every now and then — because you’ll never know what kind of impact thinking a little too much could have on your life and your work one day.