At three years old, I first questioned the ethics of eating animals (in a way that a three-year-old can). By ten I went vegetarian.
For the next 15 years, I was happy about my choice and didn’t see the need to do anything else. It doesn’t hurt hens and cows to eat their eggs and milk (or so I thought), and leather is just a byproduct of the meat industry, so why not wear it?
I’d met a couple of vegans, but I thought they were extreme. I remember going on a picnic with friends, one of whom had a vegan girlfriend. I made a salad and put cheese on the side so she could eat the salad and others could add cheese later. How thoughtful of me!
I’m happy she didn’t judge. She did, however, recommend a book that changed my life: Diet for a New America, by John Robbins. Robbins was next in line to run the Baskin-Robbins empire and walked away from it all to promote a plant-based diet.
He wasn’t the son of a cattle rancher. It was just ice cream! And I didn’t think cows minded if we used the milk they “gave” us. So I dove into the book to see what all the fuss was about. I didn’t expect to change my lifestyle.
The book opened my eyes to the horrors of factory farming, the cruelty chickens and dairy cows endure to produce eggs and milk. Then there was the environmental impact of eating meat, and the heath aspects of veganism.
I switched to soy milk that day, and dropped eggs from my diet. Cheese was harder to give up, and I indulged occasionally. I still wore leather and hung on to my “byproduct” story.
But when I moved to the US a couple of years later, I wiped the slate clean and started fresh–as a full-fledged vegan. Partly because it was a natural turning point and a chance to redefine myself. But I also chose the move as a time to switch because I’d been reading up on rBGH (bovine growth hormone). Canada hadn’t approved it but it was given to dairy cows in the States. So cheese was off the plate.
I also realized that leather is a big part of the meat industry. A big, money-making part. So I started shopping for leather-free shoes. Turns out, there’s no shortage of options! Until recently, I still bought leather shoes at thrift stores, but I’ve stopped that too.
Being vegan is about knowing the truth, being aware, and making a difference. Every time I shop, I vote with my dollars. It truly is a journey. And it’s a joyful one! I absolutely love being vegan. It’s been 13 years now and I’ll never go back. I’m healthy and happy and I still smile every time I eat a delicious, colorful vegan meal.
It’s a peaceful, guilt-free way to live. I’ve never felt restricted. If anything, it’s a fun challenge. Good chefs will make special meals, no matter where I travel, I can find a bite to eat, and my kitchen is a fun place to be. I don’t buy fur, leather, wool, feather (including down) or silk, but I don’t miss a thing. For every one thing I’ve given up, I’ve found three amazing alternatives.
I’ve also connected with a lot of vegans (on Facebook, at work, and through groups like NARN). For people who know the cruel realities of the world, they’re an upbeat bunch. Smart, funny, and fun to be around–and they’re all making a difference in the world.
To quote the slogan on my new tote bag, The future is vegan! Care to join me?
I always like to read how people came to adopt a vegan lifestyle. You were so aware at such a young age – that’s wonderful! I had my neighbors over for dinner recently and they told me about some non-vegan friends they have who have a 10-year-old vegan daughter. Believe it or not, despite the girls parents not being vegan, this girl has been vegan for two years. I certainly wasn’t aware when I was young. I loved animals, but I never connected the meat I ate back to the animal it came from. It’s like animals and meat were two distinct things.
I like personal stories too and plan on featuring other people’s stories on this blog in the future. Perhaps you’d like to share yours 🙂
I was aware at a young age but I also thought I was doing the best I could. I needed to open my eyes and keep working toward a cruelty-free life. And instead of shaking my head and saying “what a shame” when I hear of injustices, I’ve learned to speak up (even if it’s just a letter). That’s why I like tabling at events with NARN. I’m not pushy, but there are people who are eager for more information and want to be there for people. I wish I had those resources.
How amazing about the ten-year-old who’s been vegan for two years (in a non-vegan home)! Kudos to her parents for being open-minded and allowing their daughter to choose her own path.
Reblogged this on Time for Action.
Thanks for reblogging this!
Great post, Jean! I, too, was duped into thinking milk and eggs doesn’t hurt animals. After all, I only saw cows grazing in fields in the countryside and imagined hens living in nice little chicken coops where they are safe and can lay their eggs (the eggs are not fertilized, therefore, they are not baby chicks). Nothing could be further from the truth!
Thank you for gifting me with ‘Diet for a New America’ by John Robbins and the video ‘Eating’ – I’m so glad to be vegan. Cheese was hard to give up, but after knowing the facts, how can I not? And the more I think of it now, would I eat cheese made from dog milk, monkey milk, horse milk? That does not sound appetizing to me! 😐
Yes, it’s in the interest of big business to keep us all duped! Glad we know now. And I’m glad you were open to change. When my vegan friends find out you’re vegan (and the whole family is veg of some sort) they’re amazed! I have friends who have to deal with hunting, circus-going, meat-eating family and it’s hard. They love them but hate their actions. It’s tough.
About the milk–so true! No one would drink dog milk! What’s the difference? We’ve been conditioned to think cow’s milk is normal but when you think about it, it’s only normal if you’re a baby cow!