FEATURE: Ciara Fitts

My name is Ciara Fitts. January 5, 2017 will make a year since I went vegan. Last year I almost died from gall stones. I ignored the pain for three weeks thinking it was just acid reflux. I decided after my surgery enough was enough. I was tired of being sick and tired. Since I was a child I suffered from abscesses, acid reflux, bronchitis, and horrible acne. I went vegan head on. I love every moment of it. Being in the military sometimes makes it difficult because there aren't vegan MRE's (meals, ready to eat) and also when I'm in the field I'm a lot hungrier because I'm not only moving a lot I'm going through all of my food, but being vegan in the military is possible.

When I first went vegan, I had no one in my corner to support me in choosing to live a meatless lifestyle. People in my unit would pick on me because I chose not to eat meat. My Sergeant would constantly pick on me about eating rabbit food. I'm glad that I was able to find people on social media who wanted to live the same lifestyle as me. 

I went vegan because  I couldn't call myself an animal lover if I was continuing to eat them. The deeper I got into not eating meat, I started realizing that animals are conscious beings - they feel the same things we feel. I can't fathom the idea of me taking a child away from its mom. 

I became a vegan last January. I was getting closer to my fifth year in the Army. I knew the questions about being vegan while in the military would come up. Yes, being a vegan means that you won't cause harm to others, especially animals. I rose my right hand to swear and protect others.

The black community often frames veganism as a "white thing" because of what we've been told our diet consisted of back from when we was living in Africa until we were slaves. Every family dinner or holiday my mother would cook chitterlings. I would constantly ask her "why did we have to eat it"? She would simply reply, "it's a part of our culture". I later researched that when slaves got meat it was the left over parts that the slave owners didn't want. For so long we always wanted to blame what our family members ate on why there are health problems in our communities. But if we let go of the things that once bound us as slaves, this might set us free.