You wouldn't expect this to be a question that is asked on a daily basis, but it is something that vegans have to answer more often than anything else I have encountered.
It’s simple enough, really. However, it depends entirely on why someone is asking that can change my perception of that person. Some people are curious, in a well-mannered way and would love an education on something that questions a part of life that so many consider to be normal.
Others… not so much.
Some people ask, “Why are you vegan?” with the same level of disgust as walking in dog’s mess. This depresses me and upsets me more than anything.
I know being vegan is a choice, but once you are there more often than not it is not something that you will go back from. Once your eyes have opened, it’s very hard to go back to advocating suffering and death.
I am aware that the majority of people reading this may not be vegan, and to them I may seem fanatical. I am not. This is the reasoning and thought process that allows someone to go vegan, to say no to suffering. If you believe that is ‘obsessive’ (like my mother *sigh*) then you need to analyse your actions very closely.
Killing is wrong.
Torture is wrong.
Why do these concepts seem alien when applied to animals?
If someone killed your dog, I am pretty sure you would be beside yourself in misery. But, hey, killing that cute baby cow with the wide eyes so you can have a rug in your living room that smells like death – “hey! That’s okay!”
Many people are vegetarian for these reasons alone, but I am never someone to do things half-heartedly. Reading articles on how milk is taken and how silk worms are boiled alive, was enough to make me sick and to become an animal advocate. Why do people continue to take advantage of others, especially when they can’t pipe up and say “Hey Buddy! I don’t like that one bit”
When an animal struggles when you try to ride it, when you try to milk it, when you try and take its baby so you can drink its milk – it’s viewed as okay. When honestly, it’s not.
There are so many reasons why I am vegan and in the beginning, they all seemed to correspond to whoever I was speaking to. Different people got a different reason.
Let’s just give some back story: I was a 23 year old woman who had a lot of bowel issues, IBS that meant that I spent almost every day in pain and was gaining weight so quickly that the doctor was about to put me through tests because they thought something was very wrong with me.
I had just gotten my dog, a purebred Samoyed from a lovely lady that I still speak to everyday, and ate eggs and milk and copious amounts of blue cheese. My idea of a brilliant night out was stuffing my face full of Nando’s chicken.
I sat down one day to watch videos on youtube and ended up on the food production side, where I watched metallic robot hands softly caress pringles into their long cans, and jelly beans tumbling through large cement mixers. A joyous voiceover told me all about these exciting journeys and I was genuinely impressed with the amount of effort that went into this food production. Then came the animal videos. “How Bacon is made?”
Bacon isn’t made, it’s grown FYI. It’s flesh.
The factory workers watched as racks of pigs trolleyed into the warehouse, hanging from their trotters, swinging as the machine jostled them on the rack. Their eyes were wide and their arms hung down. The voiceover explained everything in the same jovial manner. A complete disconnect between what I could clearly see, as if for the first time. These were once animals, the same animals that I would point at in a field and walk up to and let lick my hand.
My dog slept on my feet, warm and snug as I watched the horror. Something struck inside of my heart that day. I loved my dog more than anything, why didn’t I extend these animals the same courtesy. They could easily be a pet or have a name, but they didn’t. They were bred to be killed. No one should be alive simply for the purpose of dying.
I first told the women at work, on my team. L*, who was a vegetarian of over 15 years, seemed shocked. Maybe this is where my slight prejudice of vegetarians comes from. She hadn’t consumed flesh for 15 years, but ate cheese every day. She didn't condone killing, but condoned extended suffering. All I can see when I think of cheese is baby cows that can’t have their mother’s milk. The rape racks to impregnate them so they keep lactating and all of the other horrors.
L* didn't think I could do it to be honest. She had seen me eat so much chicken and other meat in my life that I sensed this superiority rolling off her in waves. She had been a veggie for 15 years, and now this meat eater had come along and said that she wasn't just giving up meat, but going the whole hog (haha) and becoming vegan?!
The second was H*, who told me that I was wrong about all of this cruelty in the milk industry. She knew someone that knew someone that owned a dairy farm and none of that EVER happened. Yeah…right… So much evidence and video footage must be wrong.
C* told me that cows HAD to be milked or their udders exploded.
This immediately coloured my experiences of ‘coming out’ as vegan to others in the beginning.
It became a source of shame. No one understood the excuse “I am doing it for the animals”, but they understood selfish reasoning such as “I am doing it for my health” or “I am doing it to lose weight”.
My dad still only accepts my veganism because without it, I would probably have such horrible IBS I would be confined to my home in the evenings as I was before.
I came out on facebook, again citing health reasons and was so lucky that my friend Charlotte, who I had not spoken to in years, invited me to a closed group known as the vegan sanctuary. I felt at home, I felt empowered. I no longer felt this was something that I would probably fall away from (I have no willpower) and through them, I have carried on and prospered. Thanks to them, I am educated and confident about my choice to not harm or take advantage of animals.
I hope I gave some insight to others today of why I am vegan and I hope to all of you omnivores out there don’t think I am preaching but instead can listen and respect my choices. In the same way that I won’t knock a bacon sandwich out of your hands, don’t knock the celery out of mine.