I believe this article will get the least views of all of my posts. Many of you here are already Vegan and might not read in fear that you will be reminded of all the horrors. Those who aren’t Vegan yet, may not be ready to face the cruel reality. But…
I can assure you, hand on my Weird Vegan Lady heart, that there are no graphic images in this article whatsoever. This article is all about my journey, from Omnivore to Vegan. I am coming from a compassionate perspective. What you read here, will be my incredibly personal, raw and honest story. My heart, my many tears and ultimately my joy. Besides, I couldn’t bare to go trawling the internet for heartbreaking pictures of cruelty and death, I strongly believe it pushes more people away. As humans we scrunch up our faces, close our eyes and turn away when we see something we can’t deal with. Due to the way the world is today, it is also super hard for people to relate to animals in a real way, so by me sharing my journey, as a human, I really hope this will be a much easier way of helping people relate, sympathize and ultimately find the real empathy and love they always thought they had for our beautiful and innocent fellow Earthlings.
This… is why I am Vegan for the animals.
For almost all of my life so far, I ate meat and dairy. In fact, if a plate of food didn’t have meat on it, I already knew (or decided) that I wouldn’t feel satisfied. This is honestly true! I had a cheese sandwich, various ways, every single day for lunch. In my eyes, mayonnaise was the only condiment needed. Steak was best served medium/rare, chicken for dinner was standard, and whatever restaurant I was in… I was always relieved to find a cheeseburger on the menu. I never even knew what a Vegan was. I had never come across Veganism in my life. I knew a few vegetarians, and a few people who didn’t like the thought of processed meats. I did have a wobble on the odd occasion if I found a bit of gristle in my sausage, but I was more upset with having been put off eating the rest of my delicious meal than thinking about what it was that I was actually eating.
As for dairy products, I was so suckered into believing the images we are sold of cows in spacious green fields, being milked occasionally, skipping around with other cows and laying down when it rains, that it hadn’t ever occurred to me to realize that these cows must have to have been pregnant to produce milk. I never even noticed that there were only ever females in those fields full of cows we drove by on long journeys to see family. Where are those baby calves? I saw animals as animals. But I saw meat as food. No connection. Their fluids as a drink or cheese. Produced, just like a can of coke. A product.
At 27, I had 2 young sons, and was pregnant with my daughter. Although I wouldn’t go Vegan for a few months, this is where my Vegan journey begins. For some reason, call it divine intervention, I noticed a few posts on facebook about animal cruelty, I had never seen anything like that before on my news feed. During my pregnancy, my husband and I started watching The Walking Dead. Now, I am super grossed out by blood and gore. I cannot watch horror films, but The Walking Dead has an awesome story line and it really captured me. Why is this relevant? Well, I honestly believe this program planted a seed in my head. The undead, still looking human, tearing the flesh from humans, dogs, horses etc. All those still alive desperately trying to survive and hide from the dead. This entire program has built its foundations on humans, us, trying to survive. The characters trying to flee and save their lives through fear of being eaten. Protecting their families, friends and children. Our basic and powerful instinct for survival, and our naturally consuming fear of pain and death.
One evening, when cooking dinner, my husband was getting ready to go to work on a night shift. He was scrolling through his phone and paused 5 foot away from me, starring at his phone with a concentrated frown. He suddenly grimaced and turned his phone away from him. ‘Oh god, you definitely wouldn’t want to see that!’ His mate from work had sent him a video of live piglets being pushed into a grinder and had typed ‘Can we have these sausages at work tonight?’ I didn’t want to see it. I wished he hadn’t told me. I didn’t want to know! But why? Why did my husband, who to this day still eats animal products when he isn’t at home, turn his phone away so he couldn’t see? Of course, it’s obvious, no one in their right mind wants to see that. Wait… as humans, we turn away from things like this, because our instincts are telling us it’s horrible, disgusting, awful… wrong. It’s deeply upsetting and we cannot comprehend the unimaginable pain and suffering, so our coping mechanisms kick in, and we turn and block it out. This was when I started seriously thinking about cutting meat from my diet, and turning vegetarian.
I had just turned 28 when my daughter was born, I had my 3rd C-section, and I was unprepared for how much worse my recovery would be. Life went on hold for a good month. Bed bound, exhausted, hormonal and experiencing a new and overwhelming love again for my tiny baby. She slept with me in my bed. It was the only way I felt comfortable. My natural yearning to protect my vulnerable and delicate child at every single moment. Awake or asleep. Time went on and I made a full recovery, but my daughter very quickly became ill. This was one of the hardest times of my life. Every single night of every single day, for 5 hours solid, my tiny 2 month old baby would scream and scream in absolute agony. My soul purpose, as a mother, is to be able to comfort my child. Absolutely nothing I could do made any difference. I sobbed and sobbed with her. Feeling completely and utterly broken and cripplingly devastated that my child was in so much pain and there was nothing I could do for her. It took a month of trial and error to work out she had a dairy intolerance. We also found later, that she became ill with egg and chicken as well. As I was breastfeeding her, I had to change my diet. So I looked on the internet for advice and alternatives, someone also suggested I join some intolerance support groups on facebook, and i was shocked to find how easy it was going to be! There were so many different options for replacements and loads of easy recipes.
In the mean time, I was still thinking hard about cutting animals out of my diet. However, I was also battling with the thought of the impact that changing my diet would have on my family and our home life, convenience wise. So I had the idea that I would try to at least source our ‘products’ more ethically, and find a local farm to visit with the kids to help educate them on where their food comes from. I asked in an online local group about the nicest farms in the area and explained that I was thinking of going Vegetarian and want to find somewhere where you can see the animals. This, was when I virtually met the woman who would change my life forever. A woman who, even though we have never met in person, I will never forget. Alexandra.
Her brother told me that she might be able to give me some veggie advice as she is a Vegan. I gave her a message, and she was so helpful! She shared a documentary on facebook and told me it was the reason she went from vegetarian to Vegan, but that it was a harrowing watch and wished me luck. That night, while the kids were in bed and my husband was at work, I sat down and found Earthlings on youtube. Before this moment, I was worried about telling my husband that I was considering going vegetarian, let alone Vegan. By now, I had heard all the jokes and seen Vegans being ridiculed all over social media, and even had a couple of piss takes from family members. I was also still a little worried about what Vegans eat. I mean, I hate fruit and wouldn’t go near a salad! So all I am left with is vegetables right? Could I really do this? Should i be doing this?!
I got about 20 minutes into the documentary. I absolutely sobbed my eyes out, I couldn’t get through anymore, and I closed the screen. Oh. My. God. The absolutely overwhelming feelings of sadness, anger, helplessness, guilt and utter disgust consumed me. I knew then, that I could never, ever go back. Even if it meant eating a bowl of steamed vegetables for every meal for the rest of my life, then so be it. I couldn’t possibly be a part of it anymore. I didn’t want to be the reason that any of those utterly disgraceful things happened to any animal from now on. No amount of ridicule, or me being ‘inconvenient’ was going to change my mind.
Now we have come to the part where I am going to explain a couple of things. There is a massive amount of information on all these industries on the internet, or in documentaries and lectures you can find on youtube. I am just going to give you a couple of reasons why Vegan is the only way if you want to save animals. The egg and dairy industries feed directly into the meat industries and are actually, if they possibly can be, even worse! I understand that most vegetarians don’t eat meat because they love animals, so for them to realize that by buying eggs and dairy products, they are fully supporting the meat industry anyway, I get that it can be a bitter pill to swallow. In my opinion, if your reason for being vegetarian is really for the animals, once you know all of this information, you have to realise the only way is Vegan. Animals are animals, not one species of animal is more important than another. The same values apply with racism, sexism and ageism.
Eggs. Go to a farm. Go to the chicken coop. How many males do you see? None? Just the one? Where did all the little boys go? Male chicks are a drain on profits for small time farmers and huge egg companies alike. They don’t produce eggs, and they need feeding. Their only use, is to fertilize the eggs on the odd occasion to keep the rotation of chickens coming to produce more eggs.You only need one cockerel to do that job. When a hen has stopped producing eggs, they get the chop and end up on someones table on a Sunday, a long way before their natural life span is up. So what happens to all the millions of tiny baby boy chicks that hatch? Well, just for being male, at two days old they go in the bin, to be suffocated alive on top of hundreds of other baby chicks. Or, if the factory is more advanced, they have a grinder. They all tumble down a little stainless steel drum and straight into a grinder. Two. Days. Old. Free range? Google the scandal about the happy egg company. There is no such thing as free range.
Dairy. This is, by far, the most heartbreaking industry for me. This speaks to me so much as a mother. I just cannot comprehend the absolute torture and suffering these mother go through. It conjures up an emotion I never knew I had. Very similar to that 10 seconds of morbid, gut wrenching and overwhelming feeling of horror, when you suddenly realize you can’t see your child in a busy and noisy supermarket, only to find they are standing behind the person next to you, eyeing up the sweets. Imagine feeling that 10 seconds of devastation and fear, for your entire life.
“Sarah could see it. As clear as day. Her best friend was completely broken. What happened to Lisa yesterday, had left a hole in her soul so huge, she knew she had given up. Slumped on the floor, her face still glistening from her tears, still sobbing in her sleep. Her mouth as dry as sand from the hours and hours of screaming. Sarah’s stomach flipped again at the memory of that noise. The shrill sounds of utter devastation and desperate helplessness. It was only the second time for Lisa, and there would be more. She didn’t know how her dear friend would be able to carry on, but she had to. They all did. The night time brought a horribly sad silence, and sometimes she wished for the daytime abuse to come just to get on with it and be distracted. Sarah looked around at her friends, most of them were sleeping, some were sat starring quietly into space. Re-living the days events. It was the torturous reality of their daily lives, it was all they knew, but none of them would ever get used to it. You can never, ever prepare yourself for it. Even those who had gone through it more than once already. Sarah looked down at herself, at the clotted blood, the sores, the bruised skin. She wondered what it would look like if she had been left alone. She wondered what she had done to deserve this. She felt a flutter in her belly. She desperately tried to ignore it, until a huge whollop in her rib cage caused her to yelp. Several of her friends looked up alarmed. Realizing, they sunk back into their slumber. She couldn’t ignore it. It would soon be her turn again. She battled with herself every night. Could she try and reason with them? If she showed them how good she could be, how much she could give them, perhaps they will take pity on her? Or maybe she could fight this time? Use everything she had to break free and save her baby? She had gone though this so many times in her head, that it didn’t seem real anymore. It was surreal. She had created a reality that only existed in her head, and the sunrise shattered it into oblivion. Taking her strength and pathetic dreams of hope with it. She thought about Lisa’s face, the moment she knew it was her time. The moment he fell to the ground between her shaking legs, no idea about the horrors that awaited him. She could see Lisa caught in that all too familiar moment of indecisiveness, between her insanely strong maternal urge to comfort him, hold and kiss him, and her desperate need to do anything she could to sheild him from them. Lisa knew she couldn’t turn her back on them. She shouted and pleaded and cried for them to leave him alone, to let her take care of him, to let her just have him for at least one day… ‘Please, i’m begging you, please take me! Take me instead! Don’t do this! He doesn’t deserve this! He didn’t ask for this, he has done nothing wrong! Please!! He needs me!’ They didn’t listen. They never do. They were angry. They took him. Ripped him away from her. His beautifully sweet little cries for his mother could still be heard when he was 3 fields away. I’m sure hers could be heard from the city. Why can’t anyone hear us? Why won’t anyone come and help us? What have we done? Please, please… somebody, anybody… help.”
We teach out children to care for animals. We teach them they are friends, family, have feelings, they love, they fear, they experience joy and pain. Our children watch them on TV and cuddle them to sleep at night. They are then fed Bambi, Peppa Pig, Donald Duck, Daisy Cow, or Mable the cute and funnt chicken they petted in the farm they were taken to with school last week. We are sold images of lush fields full of happy cows and pigs waiting patiently to happily become dinner, because they are treated well, so they don’t mind. They are ‘free range’ – they are fed the best grain, all the farmers have smiles on their faces and wear checked shirts and wellies. Wholesome, homely, trustworthy, kind. There are even images of the actual animals on the packets filled with their body parts we buy from the shops. We are so brainwashed from childhood, that we look right through that image and see food. A product. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Yet we drive by cows in a field and see cows in a field. Not burgers. Living things. Lives. We feel a bit sorry for them if it’s cold and wet. We wonder if they are bothered by the cars driving by because we know they are living, feeling beings, just like us. We are taught from birth to separate animals as animals and animals as food. In most cases, we are taught this by the people we trust the most. Our parents. Who were taught by their parents, and theirs etc, who have had it drummed into them that animal products are good for us, we are omnivores, we will become ill without animal products, you need to buy this chicken, you need to buy this milk, you need protein from chickens menstration, be a responsible parent, feed your children animals, feed your children things that come out of animals, otherwise they will get ill. Ignore all those Vegan kids and adults who are healthy, we can show you one Vegan kid in Italy that isn’t, it had nothing to do with an infection he had, it was only because he didn’t eat animals, we will make it headline news so that we make sure you see it before you do your food shop. All omnivores are healthy. Ignore all the omnivores that aren’t. Give us your money.
Hope. This has been incredibly difficult to write. After going Vegan, I noticed so many posts full of cognitive dissonance from friends and family, some were frustrating, some upset me and I found myself feeling very down most days. Hardly anyone looked at the petitions I shared about animal cruelty, the posts I shared about animal rights. Those who did, wanted to argue against it, and were angry. I took myself off facebook and out of the situation, for a break. I found I was much happier, finding my groove with Vegan food and the lifestyle, but as a stay at home mum, it was a little lonely. I re-opened my facebook account and started again with a fresh mindset. I unfollowed every single person to prevent seeing anything negative and focused on sharing my passion for food, positivity and happiness. I created a mini food blog on my profile, showcasing how yummy and easy it was to eat cruelty free. I still can’t believe the amazing reception it got! People loved my food! I got messages from an incredible amount of people, asking for advice on going Vegan, telling me how great my food looked, how I have peaked their curiosity, that they have been making little changes here and there. People were stopping me on the school run and saying the same things!
I am so hopeful and filled with excitement about the future for animals. This year, 2016, sales of Vegan food has gone up by a whopping 1500% and most supermarkets have started labeling their Vegan friendly products. The amount of people who have gone Vegan has risen by 350% compared to last year! Veganism is growing fast, the truth is finally getting out there! Big chain restaurants are adding Vegan menus, and recently, a Vegan advert was aired for the first time on television about how dairy takes babies from their mothers!
There are new Vegans of all ages, races, religions and backgrounds. All different budgets. All different professions, from doctors to stay at home parents. Vegans with all kinds of dietary requirements, from gluten free to soya free and even allergies to root vegetables! The biggest numbers come from young adults! Teens to early 20’s. Lots of them will have Vegan children and create a new generation of compassion! Dairy companies are repeatedly reported as being in crisis. There are so many more campaigns to ‘support our dairy farmers’ (poor souls) This give me immense joy to see! It means they are worrying!
The animals are winning! We will, one day, live along side our fellow animals and they will not fear humans. There will be no animals cowering at the hands of mankind. We will be proud to inhabit this beautiful planet and there will truly be no slavery, no animal holocaust, no tearing families apart for cheese on toast.
There will be peace, between animals and humans.