I had spent most of my life accepting the way the world was and bowing down to society’s rules, ever the obedient follower, until I was hurled into my awakening.
When was the last time you questioned why you do the things you do?
I had been a carnivore my whole life, never questioning my food habits or the cultural norm until somebody dropped the V truth bomb! A family friend, who was considering becoming vegan, had shared a video from YouTube with my sister. My sister watched and immediately shared it with me – posing a challenging question: “Do you want to be vegan?” Upon reading her message I knew this video must include information that was about to change my life forever.
It was KatyHemFit’s video entitled Why I've Become Vegan (it sadly doesn't exist anymore). After watching the video I knew I had to understand veganism at a deeper level, but I instantly resonated with the information. In my heart, it was the right thing to do. This video exposed many things that were unknown to me.
I recognised the damage consuming animal products did to the animals, but I was shocked to find out the effect it has on our planet and the negative impact on our health. I couldn’t stand by knowing that world hunger could be eliminated through moving to a vegan diet.
My first thoughts were that it was going to be difficult and restrictive, but I was surprised at how easy I found it. After reviewing the meals I had eaten that day, I realised that two out of the three meals were vegan anyway.
To go vegan overnight was quite a big jump and not one that many people make, but once I had decided this lifestyle made sense to me, I saw no reason to complete the transition gradually. One day I was eating meat, the next I had cleared out my kitchen and was staring into the bare cupboards trying to decide what to make for dinner.
I began to watch a number of documentaries – Forks over Knives and Cowspiracy, along with speeches by activists such as Gary Yourofsky, James Aspey and YouTube videos by the Life Regenerator and Raw Alignment. I wanted to arm myself with knowledge and understand why I was opting for this kind of lifestyle. These activists and speakers truly inspired me to jump headfirst into this exciting new phase of my life.
Sometimes in our heart, we immediately know what to do but with a topic as controversial as veganism I wanted to be able to answer the difficult questions about why I was going to be living a life different to the norm. I also wanted to know what it was that made me change my mind overnight and figure out what it was that made me feel the way I did.
Was I doing it for the animals? Or for my health? Was it a moral decision? There were many questions I wanted to uncover.
Harm to our Animals
Despite never being an animal lover, the pain I felt most and one of the reasons that led me to empathise with the vegan lifestyle was, in fact, the harm we inflict on animals. Especially as a woman, it was difficult to accept how we treat cows.
I was horrified to learn that many face a tragic cycle. Firstly, they are artificially inseminated. They are pregnant for almost the same amount of time as humans – on average 283 days; and then after giving birth to their precious newborn they are painfully separated, within moments. The cows and calves scream in agony and the milk that should be used to feed the newborn is stolen for humans to enjoy. If this process was conducted on you or me, we would all be in an uproar, but since it’s an animal with no voice we seem to ignore the true hard facts.
I discovered that cow's milk can legally contain up to 400 million pus cells per litre. So one teaspoonful of milk can have two million pus cells! I was disgusted and horrified. I had always known that eating meat would entail the death of an animal so this information was really not surprising, but watching the footage in documentaries was heart-breaking.
I quickly realised that these acts were not in alignment with my beliefs. If you value life, then does it really matter which being’s life it is? I do not condone war so why would I support the mass murder that occurs in the farming industry day after day?
I feel we should all be treated with the same respect. I decided that I did not want to contribute to the death of another being, whether I was the one doing the slaughtering or not.
Harm to our Planet
The next thing that shocked me was the disturbing impact of factory farming on our planet. Yet despite all of the environmental warnings, we are never publicly advised that veganism is the solution.
The United Nations has stated that animal agriculture is the largest contributor to greenhouse gases - larger than all forms of transport. This means in order to make a positive environmental impact on the world, instead of selling our cars and using bicycles we would actually make a greater impact by reducing the amount of meat we eat.
Worldhunger.org states that 700 million tonnes of human-grade food goes into animal agriculture each year. This is food that could be used to eradicate hunger.
How is it possible that many in the western world have everything, yet there are others still dying of hunger every day?
Harm to our Health
Despite the wealth of information I had, the first month of being vegan (April 2016) didn’t come without its challenges. The first issue I faced was how to nourish myself. During the first four weeks, I became very bloated and rarely felt hungry which I now understand to be my detox period. My body was not used to so many beautiful life foods and it was clearing my system out, removing all of the negative substances that had been infecting my body for years.