More than 20 years ago I became vegetarian, then vegan, but I didn’t understand the ethics of veganism so I didn’t stick to it.
I grew up in a family made everything from scratch. I learned to cook for myself as a vegetarian/vegan. I loved food. My father, a philosopher, had taught me from a very young age that there is no difference between our non-human animal companions and those we kill for food. I couldn’t bear to see anyone mistreated or injustice carried out. I cared about the environment. I keenly felt the wonder and fleeting nature of life, especially after experiencing the untimely death of two young friends. I wanted love to win the day. But despite all this, I didn’t fully understand. I knew no vegans and, in retrospect, I understand that veganism was, for me, a diet. As such, I made it so restrictive that I got bored with myself.
I lapsed and consumed organic and humane animal products, thinking that it made a difference (it doesn’t). Then, something happened in late 2013. I run almost every day and I do a lot of my thinking during that time. There was a question that kept recurring: How is it possible for cows to express milk on demand when humans only do that after we’ve given birth? The answer is obvious: They can’t! That realisation hit me like a baseball bat slugged across my stomach. It stopped me in my tracks. At that very moment, I became vegan.
I researched and learned about the heart-rending practices in all dairies and chicken hatcheries; about the environmental impact from these industries; about the unimaginable hell and the vast scale. We are conditioned to just never stop and think about any of this.
The bottom line is this: There is no good reason to exploit non-human animals for our pleasure or convenience. They’re not here for our benefit. Now, I understand that simple truth and being vegan is the least I – and all of us – can do.
I feel like I’ve switched off a lamp in a well-lit room. I don’t miss that light; I didn’t need it. There are plenty of other sources of light to illuminate my way (read – loads of yummy things to eat that don’t involve another’s suffering and death). I feel liberated. I have chosen to let fairness win the day, every day.
How do you go vegan? Go vegan for breakfast until you get used to it. Then, lunch. Then, snacks. Then, dinner. There you go, you’re fully vegan. Need more info? Check out The International Vegan Association
Two helpful, easy to read and compelling books on ethical veganism are Eat Like You Care and Mind If I Order The Cheeseburger. They are available in many languages in print and e-reader.
Beautifully written Emilia. I’m very new to veganism but as you said one day something hit me and it’s like if it opened my eyes completely. The more I learn about it every day the more I know that there is no way I’d go back to my old life, there is no way to unknown what I have learnt, I stick to my choice that it’s not a restriction for me like many people might think but more a liberation as you said. I only wish I made this choice earlier.
Thank you, Franca. That’s the thing exactly. You can’t un-see. You can’t un-know. And now we move forward. These feelings/experiences: we (i.e., vegans) all share those. They’re a universal experience because we all already have that compassion and love in our hearts. We’re just setting it free. And don’t beat yourself up too much (although, believe me, I too wish I had awakened earlier). You know. You’ve made a change. That’s all we can do. Un abbraccio.
Couldn’t have said it better myself!
Aww. Cheers, Friend!! xx
I agree, very well put! (20+ year vegan myself.) Love your metaphor about the lamp switched on. Make so much sense! 🙂
Amanda 20+ years vegan… that’s wonderful. I wish we had met all those years ago when I didn’t fully understand. Thank you for your lovely comment. I very much appreciate it.