As a vegan, I am often posed with the question.. "But.. why?!".
Well, why not??
I was born and raised a strict lacto-ovo vegetarian with strong beliefs in animal rights from a young age. I have always looked at animals as equals with feelings and rights. I would always be the one saying not to stamp on the spider, or looking at meat and furrowing my brow. As a child who loved animals, I was taught to see eating them as wrong. I see no difference between a cow and a dog, or a pig and a cat -they are all animals. All equal in my eyes. One life is no less important than another, and that extends to humans too. Controversially, I do not view humans as the superior race. I am not speciesist.
This is not a common ideal, and so people find it difficult to fully grasp why I am vegan because they do not share this same mindset. Trying to convey to people how highly I value animals is more often than not greeted with a look of "Woah, you're weird". They I am a hippy. I guess to an extent my views can be seen as such, though I don't mind. I am not ashamed of my compassion for animals. Not in the slightest.
Difficulty grasping my anti-speciesist stance means I often resort to replying with "I don't agree with the intensive factory farming". Normally, that is enough to convey why without having to go INTO why. It can be very draining and exhausting trying to justify and explain to be mocked and ridiculed. Sometimes though, this response leads to "If you knew the animal had a happy life, would you eat it then?". Sigh. Or "If your next door neighbour had chickens that laid eggs, would you eat the eggs they laid?". This can happen more frequently than you can imagine with the issue of my ethics and lifestyle finding a way to crop up into conversation with people.
I spent such a long time not eating meat and by products, such as gelatine, and always had an inclin at the back of my mind that I should be doing more. Eventually that time came where I was in a good place to make the change, as t'were. I had the self control, the undetermined willpower and the full knowledge in what I was doing. I think what had held me back was not only a love of chocolate, but a weakness in myself. I lacked that inner strength to stick the metaphorical middle finger up and do my own thing. The judgement scared me. I wasn't surrounded by the most supportive of people. And I am not one to do things half heartedly. I didn't want to become a vegan, then revert. I wanted this to be it. No looking back.
It's funny now how I don't miss chocolate. A lot of vegans seem to find cheese difficult to give up - for me it was never really an issue - the stuff made me heave. But even seeing bars and bars of Galaxy and Dairy Milk and countless other sweet treats in shops and stuff, none of it appeals to me now. I look at it and my conscience is at last tuned into my everyday actions and all I equate it to is cruelty. With every meal I have, every snack I nibble on, every drink I glug I am constantly and pleasantly reminded of my choice to remove myself from the cruel exploitation of animals. I see milk and I see cruelty and the slavery of animals. Just like I see death when I see rotting flesh in the supermarket. In the same way I look at eggs and instantly see little male chicks being gassed. I cannot run from the truth I exposed myself to, and neither would I want to. As a vegetarian I was not wanting to involve myself in the meat industry as it meant the needless slaughter or animals. Only I missed the slaughter of unwanted calves, unwanted dairy cows, hens no longer able to produce eggs. It all pointed to the same conclusion - exploitation and death of animals. Whether it was after being fattened up, or after spending a lifetime being milked to the extreme, it's in my eyes all the same. Hence, veganism.
In truth, it does get me down. It upsets me when I see the nonvegan world carrying on when so much is going on. Every second of everyday. And it does break my heart if I stop and think about it for too long. All I can do is remind myself that I am doing my bit. I write this blog to try and get my ideas out there. I don't buy into the industries I find ethically corrupt. I support vegan companies as best I can. I donate to animal rights and vegan companies. I do as best I can with what I have thus far. If I someday won the lottery, I'd rescue loads of animals and have them live their lives out on a lovely farm with buttercups and inevitably, poo. I don't mind poo hehe.
There is no way to be completely vegan bar running off to the ends of nowhere with a little garden where you lived off the earth. Animal suffering taints much of modern day life. To the tyres on buses I will take to get me from A to B. From the insects that were crushed by the combine harvester farming the vegetables I eat. All of it, I cannot avoid. But the essence of a vegan is to do the best we can. Sometimes it is awkward. Sometimes it is alienating. But I just have to think of the aimals, and that I am doing it for them. No uncomfortable feeling brought on by social situations compare to the suffering endured by creatures across the world enslaved by the human race. And that is why it is very very easy for me to be vegan, and for me, why there is no other choice.