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Even though World Vegan Day was a few days ago (November 1 to be specific) I still wanted to share some thoughts prompted by this important day…
First off, I am not trying to convince anyone of what is or isn’t right by sharing my beliefs. I am not trying to preach or shove my values down people’s throats. That is actually the last thing I want, but it’s a hard stereotype to overcome. I try to approach people with an open, honest dialogue, respect, and in search of common ground.
I strongly disagree with the way some vegans approach conversing with meat eaters or omnivores or even other vegans who do not support a more aggressive, in your face approach. I witness a lot of hateful comments being thrown around, especially on social media where it is easy to hide behind a screen and say whatever you want with little to no consequence…There is zero benefit to that. It hurts the cause, and it hurts everyone. Sometimes I even want to drop the vegan label because it can be so polarizing and can lead to a groupthink mentality. I could go on, but that’s not the focus of what I am sharing today.
My hope is to encourage people to look into their hearts and ask the hard questions, because for me it was perhaps the most profound and worthwhile thing I ever did.
I really struggle with the holidays and this time of year because it feels like everyone around me is glorifying violence, and it makes me feel depressed and isolated…but pushing myself to remember that this was me once does help.
I ate animals once.
I wore them on my body.
I celebrated holidays with ritual sacrifice and ate their bodies till I couldn’t move.
I got chickens mainly for the eggs and thought of ways to get them to produce more without concern for how it ravages their bodies.
I bought products that were tested on animals.
I watched them in cages or parades for entertainment.
I rejoiced when I hooked a fish in the face and then threw him or her in a cooler to slowly suffocate.
I mocked one of my closest friends in HS for being a vegetarian.
There was a time I did not look at my purchases and the things I was supporting.
There was a time I thought I loved animals (but by my actions, I clearly didn’t).
There was a time I blindly accepted what I had always been told and didn’t question.
There was a time I thought I needed to consume animals to be healthy, or even to live.
There was a time where I bought into the humanely raised concept and thought if animals live a good life that it’s okay to kill them, even though they don’t want to die.
There was a time I didn’t value all life…I valued social conformity and the comfort of ignorance much more.
I was no different from anyone else. I participated willingly (even on some level knowing what goes on behind closed doors) in a sickening cycle of violence and oppression and did not think twice.
But I am not special or above anyone, even with what I know now and the changes I have made to how I interact with the world.
My shame will haunt me forever. There’s only one way forward for me and that is in truth, love, and freedom for all.
I do not hate people who are not like me, because they are me, and I am them.
I know we probably will never live in an all vegan world, but all I can do what feels right to me and hopefully help someone else in the process. Most of my family and friends will not go vegan, but maybe by sharing my story I can help them better understand why this is so important to me. If we all share our stories and talk openly—especially with those who do not share our beliefs—maybe we can create a better world, one with more empathy, kindness, acceptance, and hope.
This is just my story, but I am sure there are countless others that are similar. Thank you for reading and happy World Vegan Day.