Given the fact I am currently doing a Veganuary challenge, I thought it was only appropriate to write a post on what started me on my vegan journey.
As you will already know, I have suffered for many years with a cycle of disordered eating. It would be remiss to ignore the impact of this on my eating habits, however I do not believe this to be a major motivating factor. I was still eating poorly before, and continued to for many years after.
I remember being young and talking to my mother about veganism on the drive home from the supermarket one day. Coming from a family who has always been involved with the farming community, it was not a topic we discussed much. Meat and dairy consumption is still seen as the norm, although since I turned vegan my mother has completed Veganuary 3 times and one of my younger sisters is now vegetarian.
At the age of around 12 or 13 I broached the subject of vegetarianism with my family. In the years before, we had lived with a garden that backed onto a dairy farm and I used to go and say hello to the cows every day. I loved those cows, and they always looked so content.
A year or so later I asked my mum if I could turn vegetarian. I had thought deeply about how meat was produced and what it actually means. I realised that I would never be able to kill an animal personally, and so I felt massively hypocritical consuming meat. I had been paying someone else to do my dirty work, and that didn’t sit right with me.
I am not the only one to have these kind of thoughts. The blogger known as Mummy Vegan from the Vegan Family Guide said she found out about meat aged 2 and said, “Can’t they just cut a bit off their bums?” At age 10, she turned vegetarian, making the switch to full vegan 7 years later.
My mum had never followed a veggie diet and as such was reluctant to allow me to embark on one. For the next 2 years, until the age of around 15 I continued to do research. She had always told me I could turn veggie after I had done my GCSEs, and so I patiently waited for that day to come.
In the summer of 2013, when my GCSE exams had been sat, I turned vegetarian. In the months that followed, I began reading about veganism and watching the now infamous Freelee the Banana Girl on YouTube.
It can’t have been much later, maybe 5 or 6 months, that I began eating a mostly vegan diet. I had learnt about the way the dairy industry treats male dairy calves and what the egg industry does to male chicks. In both instances, the males are more or less useless and seen as disposable.
To me, this was no more acceptable than eating meat. Lives were still being lost so that I could enjoy my meals, not to mention the unimaginable suffering the other animals endured.
Again, Mummy Vegan spoke about this, citing a school trip of Animal Aid. She said it opened her eyes to the dairy and egg industry and inspired a passion for studying sustainability and social justice.
Once I had learnt all this there was no looking back. Unlike a lot of vegans I do not remember exactly when I turned vegan. It was somewhere around the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 and I have never looked back.
I am primarily an ethical vegan, driven by my compassion for other living beings. To me, there will never be an instance where my tastebuds take priority over the life of an animal, and I do not see a day where I will ever stop being vegan.
The environmental and health benefits of my vegan diet are not forgotten. If we assume I turned vegan in early 2014, I have saved approximately 9,118,941 litres of water and 6,132 square metres of forest. Additionally, I have saved 39,639kg of grain and 19,929kg of carbon dioxide. I got this information from a site called the Vegan Calculator. I urge you all to check it out if you are interested – the figures are truly staggering.
Using the figures from the calculator, I have saved 2,190 animals. Whenever I feel like a failure, struggle with my self esteem, or see myself as insignificant I think of this figure. By simply adapting my diet, I have actively saved lives. To me, there is no better feeling.