If ever I’m asked “Why are you vegan?” my answer will be, “Because I refuse to support a lifestyle which results in animals being harmed, tortured and killed” or simply, “Because I care.”
When I was about 10 or 11 I became a vegetarian. I remember just absolutely hating meat. If I was given it for dinner I would refuse to eat it, even if it meant I had to sit there all night before my mother would let me down from the table. I decided to become a vegetarian to make things easier, but it took a lot of persuading. My whole family ate meat so I don’t think any of them really understood it; I don’t think I did either until years later.
I was a vegetarian for 7 years, until the end of August in 2012. I was online and I remember seeing a post by one of my favourite band members/musicians about egg production, and how even free-range eggs supported cruelty to hens. It disturbed me as I’d never really thought about it before, and when I had I’d always been very dismissive and just thought there was no issue with eggs or dairy. But this post made me think twice. I decided to look into it properly, and find out for myself what really happened in the dairy and egg industries. I was horrified at what I found. For years I’d had no idea about the conditions animals had to suffer through, and not just in these industries.
As soon as I’d began researching, I decided to stop eating eggs. I didn’t want to tell anyone about it, though, because I knew my family would have very negative opinions about it, as I always had.
However, shortly after my decision about eggs, I decided to research further and then made my decision to become fully vegan. I also told my parents about it (I was terrified- it felt like I was coming out to them, and I feared they would disown me), explaining my reasons, and to my surprise they weren’t as negative as I’d expected – although it still wasn’t easy. I made it clear that nothing they could say would change my mind and that it was the way I wanted to live my life from then on.
Now that I think back to it, it’s amazing how quickly it all happened; one day I thought veganism was ridiculous, excessive and unnecessary, and a week later I was a vegan myself, and I haven’t looked back since. It angered me that I’d never been educated about where my food really came from, and I couldn’t help thinking that if I’d known sooner, I could have made much more of a difference and could have lived the younger years of my life very differently. But I was glad that I finally knew the truth, and knew that from that day onwards I could do something to make a difference somehow, however small.
At first, I found it difficult as I somehow had the idea that there was nothing I could possibly eat. I soon realised I was wrong and together with my father I learnt recipes and meal ideas, keeping in mind how to stay healthy and happy along the way. It became really easy, and I haven’t had any difficulties since.
Except, of course, for the constant criticisms from others, which I found intolerable for a long time, and still sometimes do. People would say to me, “But what about bacon?” and “But animals are meant to produce milk and eggs..” amongst other offensive and ridiculous arguments which aren’t really thought through.
Nothing could explain my frustration caused by the ignorance of others. Something I figured out very quickly is that a lot of people see humans as the superior species, the species that can treat others how they like and just do as they please. Nothing irritates me more than when people think like this.
From watching the documentary “Earthlings” I adapted a response to this ignorance, noting that they are speciesist individuals – similar to the way that a white man may discriminate against a black man because of the colour of his skin, humans discriminate against animals because they aren’t as intelligent or powerful as a species. I couldn’t help but think that this was wrong, and that maybe if the educational system highlighted the importance of other species to our world, or maybe if more people watched “Earthlings” and understood that we should treat animals as we would treat other humans - because we were all put on this earth together, and should share this earth equally - then maybe the world would be different.
I’m only 18 years old, but I still want to make a difference. Ever since I became vegan my whole life has changed, and for the better. I feel happier, healthier, and generally I feel a lot better about myself as a person.
I want to open people’s eyes and let them see what they’re really doing to our world. Not just to our animals, but to our environment and our health. It needs to be learnt, digested, and ignored no more.