I think I was always destined to be vegan. The way society treats animals has always been confusing to me. On the one hand we say we love animals and then on the other we happily sit down to our tea and eat them.
I remember being about 8years old when I first found out that humans (Carnists) ate animals. I was out a walk with my father and it occurred to me as I was stroking and speaking to some big eyed, big eared, big nosed, fluffy cows. Dad? Why are there so many cows in the fields? His reply will always haunt me, he laughed and said where do you think beef burgers come from? He then went on to explain how humans fatten the farm animals up with grass in the fields, load them up into trucks and then send them off to a place called a “slaughter house”, where these beautiful, unique, defenceless animals, are chopped up into small pieces and made into meat which is sold in shops as food. I remember being heart broken, confused and having a panicked feeling inside where I desperately wanted to set them all free. But. Where would I hide them all? Gutted. Heart broken.
That feeling never really left me, but as I grew up society taught me time and time again that to not eat meat was strange, unhealthy, inconvenient (to others), fussy and seen as being downright difficult. I tried many times to get my father to buy me fruit and salad, only to be told no! It’s too expensive! With so many arguments and opposition I suppose I did give in and just eat “normally” though I must say the guilt I felt at doing so never went away.
It wasn’t until I was old enough to leave home that I had cut out almost all meat, I still ate shell fish on occasion and meat if I went out for a meal and I felt I’d better just choose something. Gradually I evolved into vegetarianism, which has remained so for a good long part of my life. I thought that being vegetarian was the only option to save animals from an unnecessary death at the same time as getting the nutrients I needed to live. I also wrongly believed that no animal died at the hands of my vegetarian eating habits. Truth told I had a nagging doubt in my head about dairy, but didn’t want to find out the truth for fear of what I’d find out. For the next 10 years I was vegetarian and as time passed I still continued to have doubts about the ethics of dairy and using animal products.
Like many ive not had an easy life and I have to admit selfish concerns dominated my life and took centre stage. I had lost my way in many areas of my life. The kind, sensitive, observant and brave child I once was long since buried underneath many layers of regret, mistakes, fear and societal teachings.
The turning point was when I developed a chronic condition and had to face a lifetime on medication. This news made me take stock of EVERYTHING. I got fit, changed my job to a less stressful one and ate healthier. I gave up cigarettes, alcohol and caffeine.
It was during a chance meeting with the most amazing young girl at my new job that the final sparks of me started to return. We would often have conversations about yoga and meditation (a passion of mine), animal welfare (which I could never discuss with anyone without upsetting them) and diet.
This Girl just happened to be Vegan!
After many of these conversations I decided it was time to be brave and look in to Dairy and Meat production and find out the TRUTH. Only then could I truly be free from my demons and guilt Id so long held for not being brave enough to face up to reality.
I searched the internet and found the Vegan Society and it was here along with PETA and Mercy for animals that I first read the chilling price of my dietary choices. I must say I was shocked and traumatised at what I found out and will carry what I have read with me forever. I was so upset that I could no longer “justify” eating or using animal products. I signed up to the Vegan societies 30 day pledge in October 2016, because I needed help making sure I got a all the correct nutrients from my meals, help with where to shop and how to cook certain products (e.g. tofu). And to my surprise it was much easier than I expected, and allot of fun trying and finding new things.
I have never looked back and I am still Vegan to this day. It is easily the best most life changing decision I have ever made. I no longer carry the guilt of eating or using animal products. Though I do still feel guilty about not doing more to setting them all free, I still get an overwhelming urge to open the gates to fields of cows and take them far away, somewhere safe! It pains me deeply to accept I cannot actually do this, but it is my mission to do all I can to help reduce the suffering of all animals whenever I have the opportunity.
I continue to read and study the subject of animals and why we treat them the way we do, because I still struggle to understand why some human beings (Carnists) can compartmentalise animals into Friends, Foe and Food, to me they are ALL the same, they embody everything that is innocence, beauty, kindness and love. My starter reading list of books, can be found at the end of this blog. I could write forever on what I have read, but will save that for future blogs. As well as reading and watching many things that will haunt me till my dying day, I have also discovered the most amazing societies, organisations, government bodies and individuals all doing incredible work in the field of animal rescue, rights and welfare, these people restore my faith in the human race.
Being Vegan feels like the real me, I feel like this is who I was supposed to be and if I could start my life over again and change only one thing, it would be, to be Vegan from the start. Because one person really can make a difference!
On this journey back to me, I have met amazing people, ate incredible food and discovered and bared witness to many essential truths regarding this planet, humans and the way animals are USED. This is why I am and always will be proud to be VEGAN.
For this blog I have taken pictures of the incredibly beautiful farmed animals (destined for meat) in my area, those that I pass everyday, those which mean something to me, they are individuals, they are someone, they matter and they won’t be forgotten.
Why we love dogs, eat pigs and wear cows: An introduction to carnism by Melanie Joy PhD
Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive edition by Brenda Davis
How to Create a Vegan World: A pragmatic approach by Tobias Leenaert