As a vegan, I of course get a lot of stupid questions on a near daily basis, but one I don’t mind is “Why are you vegan?”
As a kid, it was my dream to become a veterinarian. When I look at all of my old drawings from my childhood, they’re all of animals. My old pit bull Buster was my best friend in the entire universe, and when he died it felt like I died too. So what? Almost everyone is an animal lover. However, it took twenty-five years for me to comprehend that I wasn’t truly an animal lover, because I was selective about who I loved, and I viewed some as a commodity, or simply a piece of meat.
At twenty-two, I became a vegetarian after being diagnosed with colitis, and morally I felt better about no longer consuming meat. I ate this way for three years and thought “How could people still eat meat?” because I was completely blind to the horrors of the egg and dairy industries, and later on became educated and wallowed in guilt because I thought I couldn’t give up cheese. Today I sit here and think “How could people still consume animal products?”
Farm animals are incredibly emotionally complex, sentient beings with an acute awareness of their surroundings and the ability to experience pain like you and I. They’re forced to live in filth and squalor until they’re herded to be slaughtered. The cognitive dissonance between cute videos of piglets and cows and the animal flesh on one’s plate is very real. Unfortunately the egg and dairy industry is just as violent, if not more than the meat industry resulting in a lifetime of torture ending in death.
There is no humane way to kill someone who does not want to die.
Understandably, many people avoid factory farming exposé videos because they’re really difficult to watch. But my philosophy, and I’m sure many others vegans would agree with me, is if you can’t face the reality of where your food comes from, how can you eat it? If you cry at the Sarah McLachlan commercials, how could you not spay and neuter your pets?
The turmoil between omnivores and vegans is pretty intense, but I believe that in any capacity, the best way to get someone to see things from your perspective is through education and empathy. In my opinion, calling people stupid or throwing fake blood on them or acting holier than thou is completely counterproductive to the vegan movement because it pushes others away. I’m vegan for the animals, not for my ego.