Sunday, 25 January 2015

Why I went vegan in 2000

Source: BBC
It was the burning cows.

It was the pictures on TV that stopped me in my tracks. Burning cows and the explanations, together with the images, of how a virus had made its way through Europe on live cattle transports throughout the continent - transports on which the cows suffered unspeakable misery, for the simple reason that by being slaughtered in a different country their meat could be labelled as produce of that country.

Another picture is forever etched in my mind, thought I can't find it online - footage of those live cattle transports, a cow was being transferred from train to lorry I think, via crane. The crane just attaches where it can, it had the cow dangling in the air by a front leg, which was being broken and dislocated. Didn't matter. The cow, leg broken but alive, was dropped into the new container for further transport. As long as it was breathing on arrival, that's all that mattered.

I cried for them. I'm crying right now as I think of that image. And I decided eating animals was no longer an option if I wanted to live with integrity - I have always loved animals, how did I until then manage to close my eyes to the hypocrisy of loving some animals and eating others? And, worse than merely eating them - by buying their meat, supporting an industry that caused such suffering?

I could no longer bury my head in the sand after those pictures.

It wasn't so much the fact that animals had to die for meat - I had known that, of course - it was the suffering. The suffering is why I never stopped at vegetarianism. It was the early days of the Internet and I looked and found out what miserable existences dairy cows, egg laying hens, and other animals we "use" like industrial materials had... and once seen, I could not un-see those things.

I began to look at meat and see the creature who died so I could choose to eat this (a purely optional part of my diet) - a sentient animal with capacity to feel pain - who had known nothing but suffering its entire life.

Milk from another species...
we don't need it
I began to look at milk and see the cow who would have doted on its calf, had it not been taken away and killed so I could drink the milk intended for it.

I began to look at eggs and see the hens in cramped conditions, with beaks cut off so they couldn't hurt each other, laying egg after egg at an unnaturally high rate until they were no longer productive enough, and discarded.

I didn't decide not to eat these things again, so much as I simply couldn't, having come across the information. I could not block out what I knew.

So that, friends, is why I became a vegan - it's not all of why I am a vegan now: my reasons have expanded, and the suffering was merely a doorway into a room full of reasons to be vegan. I'll write a few more posts about the reasons that keep me doing this.