Being vegetarian at 21 was not too far into the realm of 'Crazy Plant Eating Hippy', and so it was acceptable to most of my family and friends. 15 years later, at age 36, after a Vision Trip to the Philippines, after watching Leonardo Di Caprio’s documentary ‘Before The Flood’, after reassessing everything that I am and that I want to be, I became vegan. I notified my friends and family with this Facebook post:
"After 15 years as a vegetarian, I've decided to become vegan. It's a big call, even for me. One of the hardest parts is the restriction on friends, family and dining out. I'll never be a perfect vegan; I still have some leather handbags and shoes (although won't buy anymore), my husband and kids still choose to eat some meat (and will do so until they choose otherwise, one almost has). There have even been a small number of social occasions when vegetarian had to make do. I'll never force my opinion on others. However, I believe I don't need animal products, and I believe our level of consumption of animals and animal products is damaging the environment and our health in so many ways."
I’m still not sure why this Facebook post felt like I was confessing. It was like ‘coming out’ of a vegan closet.
Post responses were varied. Those I consider a little bit left of centre, those who don’t always follow the status quo, were very supportive of likes and comments. I suspect those who disapproved opted not to comment at all. Some saw my announcement as an attack on their own choices. Quite the opposite, it was a justification of my own!
I often wonder, why don’t we humans question things more? Why are we OK to eat beef but not dog meat and why don't we just call beef what it is...cow! Why do we have such inconsistencies in our beliefs?
Why don’t we, as a largely intelligent species, make the connection between living things and dead animals, and animal’s body parts in our supermarket shelves ready for consumption, without considering that someone had physically killed that animal, drained its blood, removed its skin and cut it up for consumption?
Choices stem from beliefs, and we are conditioned to eat certain meats from a young age. The type of animal eaten changes between cultures, where one culture may deem it completely repulsive to eat a pig, for another, it is an accepted part of their diet.
Plant-based diets are proven to aid health and well being and also help to prevent diseases. However, the myths of veganism lead us to believe that our health may be compromised.
Myths are nothing new. Slavery, male dominance, white supremacy, only openly heterosexual relationships, were all once the status quo. They were considered and promoted as natural and necessary. So why are we so slow to change our beliefs, even when science, and common sense, can prove otherwise?
Every choice we make can make a difference. We can give it names, and label people and their actions, a vegan, an environmentalist, a humanitarian, a hippy. However, even now, these labels seem to be touted with a negative light, one of a troublemaker or someone who is out to demoralise and pressure others.
Whether you are an avid meat eater, a vegan, an environmentalist or a conservationist - I say be open to those who choose a different path to you, celebrate them even, as it's the people who question the status quo that will better our world in the long run.
Updated 14 November 2017