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How To Stay Plant Strong After Leaving The Meat Matrix

Over the next several blogs, one of our brand ambassadors, Peg Haust-Arliss, LCSW-R, will be writing about overcoming the challenges associated with becoming vegan.

So, like Neo in the classic movie, The Matrix, you have taken the “red pill.” You have been exposed to the painful truth of factory farming, and cannot erase what you have seen. You have allowed yourself to wake up. Because of this, you have made the decision to try out a vegan lifestyle. Congratulations! Now what? I recently learned that a significant number of people try (with the best intentions) to adopt a vegan lifestyle, but end up returning to their old carnivorous ways. I can understand that, especially if they are trying to go it alone and without some basic know-how. I want to make it easier for everyone on this road of compassion and health to stay fully awake and not feel pressured to take the “blue pill” again.

Most new vegans are passionate and eager to tell anyone who will listen what they have learned. After all, it’s a revelation that is so important, we wonder how we did not know this before. However, when we share with others, especially family and friends, we are often surprised at the responses we receive. Instead of feeling equally as shocked and horrified, we may find that our loved ones express disinterest, or worse, disapproval. We hear that “eating vegan is unhealthy,” and it’s “extreme” not to eat animals or use animal products. This leaves us feeling discouraged, sad, confused, or angry because: “No! Eating animals is extreme!” Clearly, baby humans nursing on non-human milk and never getting off the tit is strange and cruel! It’s very hard for new, and especially seasoned, vegans to understand and accept the responses we receive, particularly from those closest to us. However, we must remember that we were once in the meat matrix, too.

Meat and dairy consumption is a societal norm in the United States and Western culture as a whole. Since the beginning of the agricultural revolution, and throughout our childhood years, meat and dairy have been associated with positive health in advertisements, from our doctors, and just “common knowledge.” Furthermore, most of us do not interact with or even see the animals we eat. In general, animals are often talked about as if they are not complex or intelligent beings. This makes it easy for them to be treated as commodities and products, devoid of any value besides money, and not thought of as the sentient beings they are. The result is that truly kind and rational people learn, unconsciously, to turn off their natural human empathy to most non-human animals. We are taught not to abuse or neglect animals, yes. But, because we are not used to thinking about how animals feel or seeing what they experience, we believe non-harmful or acceptable behavior includes having animals feed us, entertain us, and become sacrifices of experiments in the name of drug safety and cures for diseases — diseases that many studies show can be prevented or reversed with a plant-based diet.

As a child, I remember feeling sad and wanting to question why our “pet” calf suddenly had to leave the barn. However, I did not associate Little Eddie or Stevie with the meat on my plate. And although I did not understand why people enjoyed killing in the name of sport, an acceptable response to my question was “that’s just the way it is,” and the way it has to be in the name of “normalcy and necessity.” Most of us never questioned our teachers, our parents, our doctors, the FDA, or the entertainment industry. But for one reason or another, we are now. Thanks to technology, social media, documentaries, Hollywood stars, and even doctors and presidents, people from every walk of life are getting on board and spreading the word. More and more people today are open, curious, and embracing a plant-based diet or vegan lifestyle.

Stay tuned for more blogs by our brand ambassador, Peg Haust-Arliss, LCSW-R, coming soon! In the meantime, for a delicious vegan protein cookie that packs a punch, try Badass Power Cookie today!


Peg is an author, therapist, vegan health and lifestyle coach, and the proud owner of Fear To Freedom Holistic Psychotherapy. Her thriving private practice is located in the beautiful Finger Lakes area of upstate New York, where she offers in-person and online individual therapy and coaching, VIP Day Breakthrough Sessions, and Coaching Programs based on her book: Anxiety Breakthrough.

Peg resides with her husband and their four very adored and entertaining fur kids. She is passionate about animal rights and is on the board of ARAUNY, Animal Rights Advocates of Upstate NY. For fun and relaxation, she loves cooking, physical fitness, music, wine touring, spa days, walking the dogs, very amateur photography, and spoiling her husband, family, and friends any chance she gets!
Download free excerpts of her book and connect with her on social media, all on her website at