I often think back to the night I went vegan. It was a Sunday evening in November of 2013. I was sitting on the bed trying to find something to watch on Netflix, not thinking of much in particular. My husband and I had recently seen friends, all of whom were either vegan or vegetarian (including my husband), and we saw them often. Usually our time was spent playing video or board games, talking and having a laugh. As was custom when we got together, we usually ordered take-out. In the beginning of our friendship (I had met this group through my husband who had known them all for years), I was the only meat-and-dairy eater in the group and at first, I was the asshole kind: I would order a meat dish just to prove some point that now seems lost on me. But as time went on, and as I got to know each of them better, I started ordering vegetarian dishes. I had reached a point where I didn’t want to offend their beliefs, even though I still clung tightly to my own.
Here’s the other thing: I genuinely liked them. They were fun, funny, thoughtful, and smart people who embraced me from day one. And without saying a word about their veganism, they were influencing me. They didn’t know it but the more I hung out with them, and the more I saw all their animal-free products and animal rights books and T-shirts, the more I began to see animals and the people who represented them – vegans – differently (spoiler alert: stereotypes are usually bullshit).
Now, make no mistake – I still had NO intention of ever being vegan. I was firmly planted in Camp ButILoveCheeseTooMuch and thought being vegan was only for people with some kind of special willpower or were animal lovers who had just taken it to the extreme. Yet even though I still rejected the idea of not eating animals, I began to become more conscientious about the other products I bought. I stopped buying from companies that tested on animals and I started avoiding clothing with down, leather or wool in them. I also began buying cosmetics and skin care that were vegan because even the asshole in me knew it was needless for an animal to suffer just so I could feel pretty.
This was all taking place over the course of a few years. By the time that Sunday night rolled around in 2013, I had been married to a vegan for 4 years and been around our friends even longer. As I scrolled through Netflix, I saw the film “Vegucated” come up on the screen, the doc about three meat, dairy and egg-eating people from New York who try a vegan diet for six weeks. I remember staring at the film synopsis for a long time. It seemed harmless enough and despite my growing awareness of animal-(ab)use, I was still completely ignorant of how they got to my plate. Like most people, the steak/chicken/bacon/egg/milk lover in me didn’t want to know. But the part of me that cared about how others were treated, well…it did. At the time, I think I would have said my curiosity about animals was being awakened. Looking back, I think it was something far more powerful: it was my conscience.
I hesitated for a long time, my index finger hovering over the “Play” button for several minutes. My mind was racing: What if I go vegan after watching this? What if I have to change my whole life? What will I tell my family? Oh my god, my in-laws! What if it’s too hard? It was then that I had one clear thought in the midst of all the what-if’s: Why am I resisting? What was it about animals that they mattered enough not to test my mascara on but not important enough to find out how they became my chicken nuggets?
I didn’t have an answer. Sure, I had reasons to be reserved and excuses to avoid finding out but no real, concrete, solid, actual ANSWER as to why I wouldn’t take this next step. Once I realized I had no logical answer, I told myself to put everything aside: Put aside family, friends, work, the stereotypes and assumptions and find out for myself – what is this vegan thing all about? What are the issues? What is really happening to animals?
I pressed play.
The following day I threw out all the cheese, eggs and meat from the fridge. I only planned to try a vegan diet for six weeks like the people in the film but a curious thing happened that I couldn’t have predicted: once I had actual information about what happens to animals for food – not just impressions or vague ideas – I wanted to know more. I spent the next six weeks reading more, watching more and by the third week I knew in my heart I was never going back. How could I? I was no longer eating something but someone. And I’ve shared this before but here it is again: once I saw a newborn calf on a dairy farm being dragged away from his mother so her milk could be taken for human consumption and he could be slaughtered for veal, that was it. No way. I will happily live without cheese if it means never contributing to that fucking horror show.
Last Sunday, April 23, marked the third year of this blog. This November will mark the 4th year of being vegan. Has it always been easy? No. Once those blinders come off, it’s a whole new ballgame. Is it always worth it? Absolutely. There is nothing you could do to me, offer me, or say to me that would make me want to eat animals ever again. There is nothing that will ever make what we do to animals for food humane, justifiable or acceptable. The violence, fear, and suffering that animals endure for “food” is beyond comprehension and the truth is, it’s just as needless to test on rabbits for oven cleaner as it is to kill a cow for a hamburger. We don’t need to be doing it to survive so why are we?
Forget resisting veganism. Just do it and come join another resistance that’s bigger than all of us: the fight for the rights of animals to be recognized as the innocent, feeling, and wonderful beings that they are.