I lay awake at night, trying to formulate the perfect answer to 'why are you vegan?' (other than the classic 'why are you not?' response).
I am vegan because I understand that the age of a belief system or custom isn't evidence of its validity. Just because killing animals for food is (generally) a socially accepted part of our culture does not make it any less cruel. I realise that turning a blind eye is no longer acceptable for an intelligent, compassionate being. Their lives are as important to them as ours are to us. We will truly be powerful when we realise that every life matters. We are the dominant beings on this planet with the power to destroy. True greatness is having that power but choosing compassion instead.
That is not my finished definitive response but it certainly carries the essence.
For the first 30-something years of my life, I ate murdered animals - a lot. Being a very 'picky' child, I didn't eat many vegetables and didn't eat fruit at all. Luckily, I developed a strong aversion to milk at an early age so I was, at least, used to having a mainly milk-free diet. I did do the best part of a year as a vegetarian when I was a student back in the early 90's but it wasn't to be for another 15 years.
My wife had been a vegetarian since her early teens and she has been integral to this somewhat spiritual growth. When we moved into our first home, we naturally divided tasks based on our strengths. As Frances wasn't very experienced in cooking, this task was solely mine. Having a vegetarian and a meat eater often meant that I was cooking two different meals in each sitting. Gradually, out of convenience, I began to opt for the veggie option. I remember that I eventually stopped buying meat and, if anything, only ate fish for 6 months, after which I became vegetarian. It was gradual so the shock to my system wasn't really apparent.
In my first year of vegetarianism, I used to get a little disgruntled by the social-media pressure to become vegan. I didn't fully understand why eating eggs was cruel. As I read more and more about the horrors of the dairy industry, I began to understand. It really wasn't enough for me to be vegetarian. I knew I had to make this transition or my whole belief system as to why I am vegetarian would be hypocrisy and, furthermore, not enough for my own conscience.
I don't want to go too much into the 'hows' of how I became vegan so far as to say that once the decision had been made, it was a swift transition. Luckily, my wife got onboard the v-train (vegan, not Virgin!) with me and neither of us have looked back since. I became a vegetarian about three years ago and vegan since last September (2016).
Veganism is a lifestyle, not just a diet. Becoming vegan made me realise just how much animals suffer for our existence so that we can have hair gel, toothpaste and so many other products. The sad fact is that there are alternatives and no animal has ever NEEDED to suffer.
ANY suffering is no longer acceptable. Not for me, not for my wife and not for the growing number of new vegans that join us every day in a new world of compassion and respect for all life.
I see people in uproar about a guy on Facebook that is accused of horrendous cruelty to a dog and their next post is a meme about how great bacon sandwiches are. Wake up people, get context, live compassionately, join us: go vegan!
Blog title Image from PETA.
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