Why I Am Vegan
I had never thought seriously about vegetarianism until the end of my junior year in high school. I had known some vegetarians, but I didn't give their diet much thought. In fact, I held the same beliefs that most meat-eaters hold: It's part of the food chain, humans are supposed to eat meat to stay healthy, etc.
But then one day, I went to visit a friend at a private Quaker school. Every morning they had an open meeting where students and faculty could say anything they wanted to. This particular morning, a girl showed a video factory farming. It covered everything: pigs, chickens, eggs, beef cows, and dairy cows. It showed how these animals are crammed into cages so tight that they can barely move. It showed how they were all covered in urine and feces due to the cramped conditions. It told about all the hormones and antibiotics that they pump into the animals to ward off all the diseases that are inherent in such filthy conditions.
The egg-laying chickens are the worst off. Their instincts are so stifled that they peck each other due to stress. So rather than alleviate the stress, these farmers cut off their beaks so they can't peck. They never actually see the sun, but they keep lights on all the time so the chickens will lay more eggs.
Well, I could go on all day about this subject. But there are other sites that would do a much better job of detailing the cruelty. I have only scratched the surface. The point is, that I realized after watching that video, that the issue isn't just about killing animals. There is a greater problem of the extreme torture we put them through in order to produce meat, eggs, and milk. I didn't want to be responsible for that kind of suffering.
So I decided to stop eating meat for a few days to see if I could do it. And it really wasn't too tough so I stuck with it. I didn't go vegan all at once. At first I gave up all meat except for seafood when I ate at home. The only reason I did that was because I was afraid my dad would get angry. When I went to college and was living in a student co-op that served vegetarian meals, I gave up all seafood as well. The following year, when I was living on my own, I went vegan.
I had always thought that if I found meat that was truly cruelty-free (most "free-range" meat is not much better than traditional factory farmed meat) that I would eat it. But one day, a couple of years after I went vegetarian, I had that opportunity to eat cruelty-free beef and I didn't take it. I knew by then that I didn't need to eat animals for any reason. And in fact, I am healthier for not eating them. So I didn't want to take the life of that cow any more than I would hold a knife to my dog's throat.
I have been vegan now since the beginning of 1995. I never really craved meat all that much because there are so many vegan immitations of just about every animal product out there. Veganism is completely normal to me and I don't even think about it much. I don't really think of meat as food anymore. And since I am doing my best to not contribute to animal suffering, my conscience is clear. It is such a good feeling.
For a really terrific definition of "vegan", read Defining Vegan.
Better yet, watch this video: