My Journey to Veganism

Written by Silvi Burden

When I first came to Shangri La, to stay for a week with the people of Gentle World, I had no idea what to expect. I was really nervous about staying with people I had only emailed with beforehand. And in addition: vegans.

I had been a vegetarian myself for only two and a half years, and didn’t have much in my mind about vegans, except that I thought veganism a very fundamentalist and strict way to live. And, to be honest, I always thought it was a little bit exaggerated. I mean, I was a vegetarian because I loved animals, and I thought that should be enough. So, as you can imagine, I was really excited and curious about meeting real vegans (the first vegans in my whole life).

And then I met with all these kind and warm people, welcoming me into their home, and being really interested in me. In the next few days, I had a lot of really nice and informative talks; not only – but mostly – about veganism. It didn’t take long for me to come around and see the point. In fact, after the third night in my little cozy trailer, I felt pretty serious about becoming a vegan myself.

On the one hand, the decision seemed pretty easy, because I had these great people setting a wonderful example about how simple being vegan really was.

On the other hand, my parents own a farm. They raise animals for meat, and my mum milks cows for a living. So, I had a big identity crisis on my hands, about how to bring those alternative points of view in line.

How would I live with parents who are so different from me if I really went through with veganism? How would I be able to stand that the livelihood of my parents was grounded in murder? I couldn’t find any real solution to that problem, but I realized that the only thing that counts at first is me, because that’s all I can take care of in the moment. And I realized that I would still be able to love my parents even as a vegan. And so (after a long, calming talk with Summer – one of the Gentle Worlders) I decided to give it a try.

And here I am now, more than two and a half years later, still a vegan and still happy with my decision. I must admit that I do miss being ignorant sometimes (don’t get me wrong — I know it’s pretty self-centered — but sometimes I wish I didn’t know about all the horrible things that happen to animals everywhere). But I try to use all my anger and emotion to actually make a change. For instance, we have a vegan group at my university, and we have managed to get vegan options in the cafeteria on a regular basis, as well as soy milk for coffee.

Half a year ago, I moved to Berlin, and I think it is the best German city to live in as a vegan. We have vegan junk food, great cafés with cakes you would not believe, and vegan take-aways. Three weeks ago, a completely vegan supermarket opened up (right around the corner from where I live). They sell lots of great stuff.

But a lot has changed with my point of view about veganism in the last two years. When I first learned about animal exploitation, I couldn’t help but see every non-vegan as an enemy and a bad person. But that really drove me crazy, so I had to do something about it. With all my missionary enthusiasm, I had to realize that most people do not want to be lectured to. So, I started explaining everything to people who really wanted to know. But when people just want to fight, I stop the discussion immediately, because it just hurts us both.

In the end, I am very happy about the opportunity I had to meet Gentle World: the people who showed me that being vegan is the only way of living.

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.

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Nimue P.
Nimue Pendragonabout a year ago

Thanks Angel. Vegan here :)

Joemar Karvelis
Joemar Karvelisabout a year ago


Elena T.
Elena Poensgenabout a year ago

Thank you :)

San Matajs
San Matajs3 years ago

Thank you for this story and all wonderful things you do.

Cecily Pretty
Cecily P.3 years ago

Great story!

Robert Hayes
Past Member 3 years ago

Brain, you perceive veganism as being a product. But what is the product? Wholeness? Compassion?

I would prefer a world of people "selling" wholenesss and compassion over the seemingly ubiquitous "products" of self-indulgence, greed and cruelty.

Brian M.
Past Member 3 years ago

What a lovely advertisment! This article sells its product quite well.

Mandi A.
Amanda Adams4 years ago

Welcome Silvi!!! p.s. love your name

Eddie C.
Past Member 4 years ago

Wow Clara, how big of you to be so understanding and forgiving of us for not wanting to murder other creatures for no reason but corporate gain. We all understand that eating meat is just a choice, just as slavery was a choice pre-civil war.
ps, if you don't want people to be defensive, don't come in hurling insults at people who are trying to be less of a deficit on this planet. And did you really think before saying "not eating meat doesn't help the animals"????? Are you freaking kidding me??? Talk about being self rightious!!!!!

clara H.
Clara Hamill4 years ago

I don't mind you being a vegan Angel it's just that you have to learn that not everyone is going to agree with you or stop eating meat. Don't get self rightous and try to force your diet on others or try to humanize animals it gets tiresome and it don't help the animals.