Thursday, 19 December 2013

A Vegan Journey (& incredibly bad animal puns).

I love animals with every bone in my body. I love protecting them, fighting for them and standing up for them. They're a voice in this world that cannot argue or debate or fight for themselves. In this horrifically cruel and violent world, our voice is the only hope they have.

I was raised vegetarian. Well, for the most part, I did eat some fish from time to time. Not eating meat, to me, is normal, it's the way I've been raised. So, a fifteen year old me contemplated just why people would choose to be vegan, and exclude all dairy produce and meat from their diets, when being vegetarian prevented so much destruction. The answer was pretty terrifying and yet pretty simple, but it came as a shock. The twenty four year old me has contemplated this concept for a few months, even over the last few years it was a seed of an idea; I would eventually go vegan.

As a generalisation, vegans tend to be very highly principled individuals. They're certainly brave. One thing I've noticed, as a friend of mine pointed out - they're quite criticised and judged. Even vegetarians face their share of inquisitive questions and occassional judgements, but vegans are still on another playing field. She explained that she felt there was a sense of expectation from vegans, that they disapproved of meat and dairy diets so much that they almost didn't accept it.

As a child, I frequently ran off in supermarkets, telling shoppers on meat aisles that eating meat was wrong and it was cruel. This was a five year old me. My parents never told me to judge those who ate meat, they never told me it was cruel - but my tiny brain told me that the reason we didn't eat meat was because we had a greater sense of feeling on the issue, that we felt it was wrong, we wanted to be different. My parents never said a word.

I worked out that I felt it was cruel all on my own.

At ten years old I would tell my friends not to say "Aw" at the little lambs in the fields. "You're going to eat one of those some day." I remember telling them. It was hypocrisy at its most innocent - but I still recognised it and called them out. Now I feel deeply remorseful for being such a cow (no pun intended).

As I grew older, I realised that you can't affect what people decide to do by guilt trips and making them feel bad - or judging their reasons to eat meat. A lot of people don't have reasons, just as vegetarianism is my norm, eating meat is theirs. As I grew up I experienced varying stages of convincing my friends not to eat meat. By 14, I realised, it's their choice. I do feel strongly that people should eat meat responsibly. That is, you don't need to eat it EVERY day. You should buy from reputable sources, you should buy locally. You should give a damn about how those animals are treated. The way you consider that you and others treat animals says a lot about your character in general.

SO! Veganism...

Being a vegan will be extremely hard for me. There's no doubt about that. I eat okay as a rule but veganism is a whole different kettle of fish (har har). I'm going to start in the new year and spend a few weeks researching what I can eat and which are the biggest dietary products I will need to replace. The trial period will be two weeks and then I will re-evaluate. Ultimately, I want to be a better person, I want my diet to fully reflect my values and I feel like a continuous fraud for not being vegan sooner, for eating fish in the past (I was given fish as a child, hence the acceptance) and for not being true to the guilt I feel every time I think about the cows in the farms, calves taken away from their mothers and killed and hens (yes I buy free range but does that mean cruelty free, I don't know!).

Eventually, if I do manage to get my own hens, I would probably eat eggs again. I would know, without a doubt, that they would have been treated with care and love and that would be amazing. But until then, the vegan trial begins. Wish me luck! If anyone has any tips or hints or suggestions, please leave them in the comments below. All welcome! Peace, love and Christmas hugs!

N x


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