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Waking Up: Vegetarian to Vegan

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Some may say that I wasn’t a true vegetarian due to fact that I still wore leather, and now I realize this fact as well, but I accepted the animal products in my life as “unavoidable compromises.” It was just too “hard” to find acceptable footwear, it was just too “hard” to cut cheese, eggs, honey and other animal products out of my diet and life. What if I was traveling? What if my friends invited me over for dinner? What if I went out to a restaurant? Could I get enough protein from being vegan? Enough vitamins? I was full of excuses and rationalizations for my choices, many of which were unfounded.

Then, six months ago, I began WWOOFing on a small dairy farm in Italy. I wanted to understand more about where my food was coming from and the work that went into producing it.† Working on the dairy farm didnít turn me vegan, but it did make me realize that if youíre drinking milk, animals are dying for you. What do you think happens to the male calves that are born to keep the cows producing milk? What do you think happens when a dairy cow gets too old? Or too sick?

Even after this experience it didnít set in.

Next I went to a biodynamic vineyard complete with veggie gardens, chickens, sheep and cows. For lunch, we would go into the garden to pick a salad, and then to the hen house to grab an egg. I have never heard such a mournful cackle as when I removed all the eggs from under a hen attempting to nest. She looked for her eggs for over an hour, wandering confused and calling, calling, calling. It was not only this that broke my heart though, but the realization that often roosters are sold for meat, and male chicks ground up alive at hatcheries. If you eat eggs, animals are dying for you.

Even after this experience it still didnít set in.

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Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati

Gentle World is a vegan intentional community and non-profit organization, whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making such a transition. For more information about vegan food and other aspects of a vegan lifestyle, visit the Gentle World website and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

209 comments

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8:26AM PST on Jan 3, 2014

WOW Valentina.....you're an angry person!

9:48AM PDT on Jul 3, 2013

Great article!

7:32AM PDT on Jul 3, 2013

WOW this is a real eye-opener for those of us who basically just eat. Seems like a lifelong commitment which needs to start now ... (willing to try hard, wish me luck - hell is paved with good intentions).

12:42PM PDT on Oct 24, 2012

@Valentina R.
Could you explain your statements ;
"You're not saving the world"
"You live in denial"
"You have zero realisim" . . . . .
Please back them up with some facts?

5:27AM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

I now understand why Vegans can be so judgemental of Vegetarians :-/

9:05PM PDT on Oct 16, 2012

"Vegan was, from my perspective, the sister of vegetarianism; close, but with a tumultuous relationship." Hahaha, hilarious.

Poor naive vegans, they think they're so special. Know what? You are not heroes. You are not saving the world. You are not more worthy than vegetarians. You have no right of bashing them. You live in denial. You have zero realism. You are the ones who need to wake up.

5:48PM PDT on Sep 26, 2012

Thanks. This is something I am working towards.

2:47AM PDT on Aug 15, 2012

thanks for this inspiring article!

1:30PM PDT on Jul 28, 2012

To "go vegan" is not something you decide lightly, as it seriously demands that you: ALWAYS have access to a wide variety of ORGANIC whole foods, locally grown, know how to balance nutrition (getting enough protein if you're sporty for ex.), know how to cook, and take supplements of vitamin B12...this is perhaps not for everyone, due to geographical or other constraints....
Vegan's be more tolerant!
(this is such a "hot" debate!....)

6:51PM PDT on May 14, 2012

I also was resistant to going vegan because I love cheeses and milk so much. Even though I knew about the fate of male dairy calves, it still seemed so far removed from my direct responsibility that I still ate dairy. A few months ago I saw a video showing a dairy cow giving birth in a muddy corral, then chasing after the farmer as he dragged her calf away, through the mud. Finally decided to give up dairy, eggs too. I will admit, that if I ever go out with friends and family, and if there are no vegan options, I'll get the vegetarian option and not commit hari-kari for my transgression. At least everyone who knows me knows I've been a vegetarian for 30 years, so I never have to get into a fight for not eating turkey on Thanksgiving!

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copy&paste Winn A. :))

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