In my first blog for Animal Justice Project, I talked about why I went vegan almost 3 years ago. In short, I did it for the animals; the same reason for going vegetarian 25 years before.
It is not simply the fact that animals are mistreated as part of the farming process that I object to – it is the fact they are used at all that is the fundamental wrong.
Other creatures on this earth are not here for humans to use as we see fit; to breed, enslave, exploit and slaughter for our own personal gain. Animals are here to lead their own lives. Surely they should be entitled to that basic right: to live unharmed with their families. Sentient beings, such as farm animals are intelligent, loving and sensitive. If you knew each animal and their own individual personality, would you eat them?
Billions of animals are exploited and slaughtered every year – trillions if you include fish and crustaceans – completely unnecessarily. Humans can live perfectly healthy and enriched lives without the need to use animals’ bodies for food, clothing, entertainment, research… the list goes on and on.
The only way to stop contributing to the cruelty is to go vegan.
I didn’t know any vegans before making the transition. I followed many animal rights pages on Facebook and over time realised that vegetarianism wasn’t enough for me – the dairy and egg industries were all part of the machine: exploitation of animals for greed, and I could not contribute to it anymore. I didn’t have anyone to give me advice (apart from the internet which is an incredible resource for knowledge and activism) so I thought I would write some tips for anyone interested:
- Few people go vegan overnight. It takes time and you’re best to do it in stages. There are lots of aspects to consider with veganism and I completely appreciate how it can be daunting. The vast majority of vegans said they couldn’t go vegan before doing so! And most vegans say they wish they had done it sooner!
- When considering a transition to veganism, most people look at their diets first, gradually cutting out or replacing meat, fish, eggs and dairy (plus gelatine, honey, beeswax and various other animal-derived products). Then they look at their clothing, cosmetics, toiletries, household products, gifts for others… in whatever order they are able to.
- Please bear in mind that no-one would ever suggest you should dispose of something you already have just because it’s not vegan. Keep your leather sofas or those suede shoes if they still serve a purpose, but the next time you replace them, don’t buy leather, suede, wool, silk or fur, and the same for the next time you need a new bag or clothes. It’s all about adjustments and trying your best.
- When looking at your food intake, just like with any diet, you can make it as healthy or unhealthy as you like! Think about all the foods you eat already that are naturally vegan – fruit, vegetables, pulses, beans, nuts, seeds, rice, pasta, potatoes, quinoa, peanut butter, jam, bread… the list goes on and on. Add to that the amount of vegan foods now easily accessible in local shops, markets and supermarkets: meat substitutes, plant milks, cheeses, yoghurts, custard, cream, chocolate, snacks… You can pretty much veganise anything these days – there are thousands of recipes online and there are more and more vegan foods hitting the supermarket shelves every day. Veganism has never been easier! Since going vegan, I have spent more time food shopping and cooking than ever in my life, but I‘ve really enjoyed it! This is coming from a woman who was not confident in the kitchen at all just a few years ago and I have become much more adventurous in trying new foods. It’s a whole new world out there! It helps to plan your meals ahead so that you know exactly what you need to buy when you go shopping (this reduces waste too).
- Even when eating out, most of the big chains now offer vegan options (you might just have to ask if they have an allergens menu) and many places are happy to make you something bespoke if necessary. It’s a good idea to plan ahead if possible, check out their menu and call them in advance if you don’t have any choice as to where you’re going and they don’t offer any vegan options. If you live in a big city, especially London, we’re now spoilt for choice with vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants.
- Veganism is easy when you focus on the reasons why you are doing it and less on your own tastes, habits and desires. You don’t miss any foods for long when you think about the victims who have lost their lives or their babies for a fleeting taste on your tongue.
There are many reasons to go vegan: for the animals, for the planet and for yourself. A plant-based diet is healthy and sustainable. Animal agriculture is said to be the number one cause of climate change, but that’s a blog for another day…
Let’s start doing your bit for the world. Donate a little.