Click on here link to read about how I came to be vegan, and below are some of my friends telling their stories of their paths to veganism. Read on and be inspired!
(PS. The spelling in the stories below oscillates between UK and US English depending on where the person who wrote the story comes from. )
I had a beloved dog companion whose death was unexpected. It all happened very fast - just eight hours from the time I realized he was feeling sick until he died. Two weeks before my dog passed away, I came across a book called Veganism: The Practice Of Justice And Equality by abolitionist activist and lawyer Ana Maria Aboglio.
I had been a vegetarian for 25 years, so when I saw the book I grabbed it and thought: why not go one step further with my ‘compassionate’ diet? Until then, I thought doing the right thing by animals was all about not eating animal flesh, but never before had all the other forms of exploitation crossed my mind. When I started reading the book and became aware…well, what can I say? Enlightenment can be a very dark experience, and my enlightenment was devastating. How could I have been so wrong for so many years? How could I have been so blind? It’s true that the mother of all suffering is ignorance, and in my ignorance I had caused suffering to animals.
It was while I was reading the book that my dog passed away and I made a promise as I cried over his dead little body. I promised to honor his life and the lives of all sentient beings by becoming vegan, hoping that in doing so I could somehow make up for all the harm I had inflicted upon my non-human peers. I asked the Universe to be forgiven, and from that moment on I was vegan.
I remember as a little girl asking my mother how the animals we ate died. She told me that they were hit quickly over the head and didn't feel a thing. Despite being the little girl that got made fun of for not stepping on ants and taking spiders outside (I still do this) I somehow accepted this answer. Maybe because I was being taught that meat was a food group and that this had to happen.
In my early 20's I got extremely sick from eating a hamburger and could not look at cow flesh the same way again. Ten years later a friend showed me some flyers about what happens to farmed animals and I was instantly horrified. I had never seen actual pictures of the cruelty before this and I went vegan immediately. Unfortunately the images wore off and I went back to my old ways, but still cutting out so-called 'bacon' and other pig flesh.
Then not very long ago I reconnected with an old friend through Facebook. She was constantly posting pictures and videos about the terrible suffering of farmed animals. I would initially look, but then look away because I felt that veganism obviously didn't work for me the first time. I couldn't get through the videos, but she kept on posting.
After several weeks I thought, "She just isn't giving up. This highly intelligent and talented woman must have something important to tell me."
I began visiting her page on a regular basis and reading and looking at everything more closely. I had many "ah-ha!" moments and I also noticed that she had a number of supporters which was something I didn't have on my first attempt at being vegan. So for me I guess I just needed the guidance and support to get back to the connection I was born with in order to live a compassionate life.
Last June 2009 I was signing a petition on Facebook against the clubbing of baby seals. I read through some of the comments and came upon a link to Earthlings. I thought, "Oh, this sounds interesting" and clicked on it.
As I began to listen and see the visual horror before my eyes, I froze in complete shock! My heart raced a thousand times faster and I clenched my teeth. My stomach was a knotted and twisted mess. While crying, I said over and over again: "I had no idea, what the hell are these people thinking?" The long and short of it is that it took me three days to get through the documentary but I went vegan the first night after watching just thirty minutes of it.
Realizing I had been fast asleep through all this misery happening to my sentient friends (that is, the non-human animals of this world) ripped me to shreds. Mentally I was devastated, emotionally I was broken, and intellectually I was pissed beyond belief. My life changed to the core.
Every facet of how I lived changed from that moment forward. I gave away all my animal-based clothing to the homeless, gave all the food I had to my roommate and began Googling for alternative foods.
I am blessed to have had God present this film to me. I truly believe it was divine intervention telling me to wake the hell up. I didn't go on Facebook that day looking to change my life, however in that moment of just one click I did...I am blessed and nourished by being vegan. I now gently share my story and my message with all that will listen.
My life's motto: Until Every Cage Is Empty!
I had a great Aunt Martha who lived in Norco, California. When I was five or six years old, my family and I would drive to see her, and along the way we passed a slaughterhouse. I remember smelling the blood in the air and feeling so horrible about it. I asked my parents why they fed me meat, and of course they answered with the myth: "You need meat to survive."
Needless to say, as I got older and did my research, I realized that this was not the case. As a result, I became vegetarian.
Then, many years later, I met a vegan who educated me about the dairy industry, and eggs as well, and I became vegan on the spot. I wanted to have no part in the suffering of animals because of my consumption.
I have been vegan for about six years now, and it is truly the BEST decision that I have ever made. You can make that decision too - for the animals, for your health, and for the environment.
Throughout my lifetime I think seeds were planted here and there, some would grow a little and then fade away eventually, but they never fully vanished - always dormant and lurking inside me.
One day my aunt made a self-righteous, indignant comment about how the Chinese are barbaric because they eat dogs. At that time a little voice came in to my brain saying: "What difference does it make really whether it's dogs, cows, chickens, etc? Why is one better then another?"
That question kept haunting me. Also I started thinking of who I would want to ask forgiveness from if I was on my death bed. I kept thinking of animals - they were all I could think of. I started envisioning all the animals whose deaths I had something to do with. Huge crowds looking at me with wide open, pleading eyes.
Then one day I was rubbing my dog's belly and I thought: "He looks like a baby goat, or a lamb." And that was it for me. Right away I stopped not only eating animals but also cut out all animal products. In other words, I went vegan.
I went vegetarian when I was eight years old. I was horrified by the fact that I was eating flesh from an animal. I remember the moment vividly: I was eating a steak and I made the connection that I was actually eating the body of a cow. Once this connection was made, I was done with eating animals. I just couldn't eat my friends.
However, dairy and eggs I had no problem with. At least not until a couple of years ago when I made the full connection which was: dairy = dead baby cows (for veal), and eggs = dead male baby chicks (the 'collateral' of the egg industry) and dead hens (once their egg production ceases).
been an animal lover, passionately so, but I truly had no idea what I
was contributing to by eating dairy and eggs. When I found out the truth I made the switch from vegetarian to vegan.
Quite simply, when I found out I was eating dead animals, I freaked out.
You see, I'd always seen animals as my peers. I was that little girl who told the teachers about the boys pulling wings off flies, and I often verbally bashed other kids for burning ants and spiders with magnifying glasses. I have always been driven by an unwavering sense of justice, yet still did not make the connection that what I was eating was in any way similar to the animals I actually saw suffering around me.
At the age of twelve I witnessed the murder of animals for food. My mother and stepdad killed over a dozen roosters in our back yard. I heard the screams. The roosters were all brothers, unseparated since hatching. They were being held in the pen directly next to the cement slab, where they could see and hear their siblings' heads being cut from their bodies with an axe. Their mother also was in the pen next to them while all this was going on.
The sound of the screams haunted me. I could not believe that my mother could do such a thing and then expect me to EAT the bodies when she served them up for dinner. I watched with my jaw open as she took bites saying how different and 'better' these bodies taste compared to the store-bought ones. It made me sick.
My mother told me that I was a hypocrite if I refused to eat these chickens, when they are no different to the store-bought ones, and that my rebellious attitude towards the whole situation was stupid. As a reaction to this, I stubbornly turned vegetarian and cooked my own meals from then on.
I didn't try to show anyone to my way of thinking, and I was constantly called "weird" for my views. I just accepted that it was indeed probably the case. It wasn't until many years later that I met a vegan via Facebook who gave me a link to the documentary Earthlings that I began to understand the enormity of the concept I had been toying with for my whole life. As a result of watching Earthlings, I went vegan.
So I guess you can say that I'm still that little girl, standing up for the animals which my fellow humans torture for momentary enjoyment - and I always will be. Animals are the slaves of our society, and as fellow animals, we have no right to enslave anyone. I fight for this now.
I grew up mainly in California, but I lived in Minnesota for a few years during high school where other kids would take time off from school to go deer hunting when deer was in season. I had never been around hunters in my whole life and it just shocked me that someone would kill a deer. I guess to me, deer just seemed more like cats, dogs, horses or other animals society generally classifies as animals you don't eat. I had grown up with deer wandering into our yard to eat grass and it never occurred to me to eat them.
Anyways, I began to wonder: "What's the difference between deer and cow or any other animal?" Before that, it had been pepperoni, bacon, ham, etc, to me, not the actual animal (ie. for the above: a pig). But in that moment, it became a dead animal's flesh to me and I just didn't want to eat it anymore.
I didn't go fully vegetarian until college as this was all pre-internet and I had no idea where to find info or how to do it as I didn't know anyone else who was veggie. It was many years of educating myself before I finally went vegan after learning just how cruel dairy and eggs are.
To me, there is no difference between animals as they all feel pain and can suffer just like us. Why would I want to contribute to that when clearly I don't need to?
I first heard the word 'vegetarian' when I was about seven years old and somehow I knew what it meant and knew I wanted to be it. I don't ever remember having to have the word explained to me. But I'd been born into a world of companion animals (or 'pets') and I always adored animals so it was just natural to me to gravitate to lifestyle that didn't harm any animals.
Brought up by a widowed mother with two part time jobs and a whole heap of depression meant I didn't want to put more stress on her by asking for vegetarian meals at that time, but I vowed I'd do it when I grew up. I went vegetarian in my teens (when I could cook for myself) and then finally joined up the dots to get the vegan message.
Veganism grew on me gradually. It was something I wanted to do for a while but I was married with a full time job and living mostly on pre-prepared meals to save time. It took a video on live exports of calves and other animals to finally push me towards the cliff's edge I'd been walking towards.
But in the end it was two Irish coffees that really sent me over the edge. I always loved Irish coffee, but that day I wasn't enjoying them and I knew it was because of the cream on top. My conscience was prodding me too hard to be ignored. I finished the coffees but I was vegan from that moment onwards. It's been seventeen years now and it's the best decision I ever made.
I can't help thinking that something like this is just in you. The trigger can come at any time but it will come if you're pre-disposed towards human/animal rights and non-harm.
SAY NO TO PUPPY MILLS! SAY NO TO ANIMALS IN PETSHOPS! SAY NO TO BREEDERS!
Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance
It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.
Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.
Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.
Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.
Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.
If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.
All information and photos are copyright © Despina Rosales.