Veganism = "A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals." (Vegan Society, 1979)
We Are All Born Vegan
I believe we are all born innocent and caring. From early on, we are curious about the world without judging it, or categorizing its people or actions. Then, along the way, our experiences prevent us from keeping our innocence and the customs of our parents and culture dictate what we should do and how we should behave. If we are lucky, our parents have given us a strong sense of self, so that we are able to distinguish right from wrong. If we are even luckier, we have developed the ability to think for ourselves and to see through other people's intentions.
I believe we are all born Vegan. There are few toddlers who prefer to chomp on the bunny as opposed to the carrot. If the child does kill the rabbit, we are appalled and we recognize there is something severely wrong with him/her. We also know that disregard for human life often starts with disregard for animal life.
Somehow, however we tend to forget that the pork chop on our plate was part of a living, feeling being. As children we may ask our parents a few uncomfortable questions about this, but we soon learn that it is normal. We should not question these things, even though we are right to question them. Along the way, our troubled minds get desensitized and few of us ask ourselves anymore why we eat meat, how it gets on our plate and whether there is any suffering involved.
Some of us, however, may continue to feel uneasy. We choose to eat little meat when we are old enough to influence our own choices. We become vegetarians after we read about the horrors that go on in factory farming and slaughterhouses. We are pacified for a while, because we believe we are doing the right thing. We have vaguely heard about veganism, but that is for health freaks and extreme activists, isn't it?
Most people don't like to see others get hurt. We understand it is wrong to hurt or kill innocent beings when it serves no purpose. We feel that sentient beings who cannot defend themselves have a right to protection. It does not matter what the law says about killing. Most of us do not take it lightly. And yet, if we are not vegan, we support a system of slaughter of epic proportions. We cannot even begin to fathom the suffering of the animals we use for our selfish needs.
This is the story of how I found my Vegan self and allowed the simple principles of justice and injustice once again guide my actions. I am no longer innocent, but I feel much closer to how my true self started out in this world. I have made a conscious decision to live my life according to the values that were instilled in us as humans at birth and that I believe make us human.
The ability to choose to not hurt the ones who are in need of our help. What is more powerful to the soul? If we help the ones we can easily overpower if we wanted to? If we recognize we are not on this planet alone and that the ecosystem, of which we are such a tiny part, is precious and perfect?
Our strength as humans lies in our power to do good.
We can recognize every being is here for a specific, ingenious reason, and just because we are able to destroy so easily, does not mean that should be our legacy. We should manipulate for the good and not give into our petty urges, just because we can.
Luckily I did not stop at vegetarianism as I stumbled upon some very powerful speeches by James Wildman and Gary Yourofsky. I did more research, watched awful documentaries and cried my eyes out at the injustice of it. And then... I came to the point of awakening. Why was something so simple, hidden from me for such a long time?
I am still baffled sometimes that it took me so long. But the machine of lies is strong. Industries are mostly about making money and not about justice. Justice starts with the individual who wakes up to all the lies and decides he or she does not want to be ruled by consumerism and its consequent suffering anymore.
I am not perfect, but every day I try to be a better version of myself. Both physically and mentally. I fail a lot, but I take comfort in the fact that at the very least, I am not contributing to mass animal suffering.
Why I Am Vegan
I am Vegan because I do not have the right to use other sentient beings for my pleasure. I am Vegan, because I do not want to feed my body with death and despair. I am Vegan because I have woken up to the reality that we are destroying our planet and animal agriculture is one of the main reasons this is happening at such an alarming rate. I am Vegan because I recognize our food systems are broken and we are feeding the rich while continuing to steal from the poor. I am Vegan, because when I pay someone to hurt an animal for my pleasure, I am hurting that person as well, and therefore I am hurting myself. I recognize that I am not separate from others. Another's pain causes me pain. I have decided that the cycle of violence ends with me.
My personal journey to Veganism is not something I want for others. I want something better for the world. What I had wanted is for someone to tell me all this early on in life. I could have stayed Vegan if my parents or teachers had recognized this injustice and if they had not kept this truth from me to spare my or other people's feelings.
Leading Healthy and Fulfilling Lives as Vegans
That is why I am offering my knowledge about nutrition and health to you now. To help people who have doubts about leading healthy and fulfilling lives as Vegans. To teach people that a lot of what we have come to believe as the truth, are actually carefully crafted lies and industry fallacies.
If we are lucky enough, we meet someone who is not afraid to give it us straight, so we can live a healthier, non-violent life for the benefit of our planet and all its species.