Terrified Turtle
Terrified Turtle

If you are vegan like I am, you probably have been asked many times, and I mean many times, “Why are you vegan?” Sometimes it is asked in a friendly tone and sometimes not.  In the beginning, I would gird myself for the inevitable question. Oh, my goodness, here it comes. I can tell by the look on his/her face. Please don’t ask, please don’t ask! Oh bummer, she/he asked. Now what do I say without seeming scared or self-righteous or dumb? I was afraid of all three.

Polar Bear in a Zoo
Polar Bear in a Zoo

My first considered response to this question was the following: “I am vegan because of the  cruel treatment of animals in farming industries”. It was a pretty narrow interpretation of being vegan, but, truthfully I was, and still am,  horrified by the treatment of these beings. It wasn’t long before my vegan daughter started to point out to me (kindly, of course)  that veganism is about so much more than the cruel treatment of nonhumans. It is about not using them in any way for our own consumption, whether it be for food, clothing, shelter, something to sit on, entertainment, medication.

As I became more educated, I fiddled around with changing my response. It has been a while since I started tinkering  with the “right” (is there such a thing?) answer. I am not sure that I remember all the different things I tried. What I do remember is stumbling over my words, trying not to offend, trying to look confident. Long story short, I started to say that “I am vegan because nonhumans or sentient beings (instead of animals) deserve to have agency over their own lives”. I would answer the all too predictable follow up about my health, by saying that I am enjoying improved health.  I did, and still do say, that improved health can be a welcome benefit, but  that it is not a goal of veganism-same thing for the environment!

The more I fine tuned this answer, the more I wondered how other vegans would answer this query from this vegan. So, I decided to ask them. I sent the fill- in- the- blank out on the waves of social media. I “Facebooked” it, “Twittered” it and “Montreal Vegan Rejected” it. I was pretty pleased to receive quite a few considered and heartfelt answers.

Here they are for your perusal.

I am vegan because______________.

Two Vegans
Two Vegans

…I am proud to say I am vegan.

…most of the suffering in the world I can do nothing about; this I can do!

…I do not want to contribute to innocent animal suffering!

…I care about ALL animals.

…I live with the fortunacy of option. Some peoples options are very, very limited. Privileged punks like me should feel obliged to whine and kick and scream, until everyone has everything they need! And because J-Lo is.

…of the Right to Live with Dignity.

…killing animals is unnecessary and cruel.

…it is better for my health, for the animals and for the planet. Win! Win! Win!

…it matches my beliefs and value system !!!

…I am an animal lover. I can’t make the arbitrary distinction between “animals I love and would do anything to protect” and “animals whose lives don’t matter to me.” All their lives matter, and my actions as an animal lover need to reflect that.
I don’t want to support animal exploitation and murder. For health reasons. A living, free animal is a healthy animal, and deserves a fair shake in his/her lifetime.

…It’s the right thing to do.

…I want to live in a way that is more and more closely aligned with my understanding of justice.

…to put it simply,  it makes my heart feel less heavy knowing I am doing what I can to contribute to a better life for all beings.

…I haven’t encountered a good enough reason not to be (i.e., a reason that’s more important than the rights of all animals).

 …I don’t believe that nonhuman animals are resources or commodities for our use. I believe that they have a fundamental right to life, free of unnecessary suffering inflicted by us, that they are sentient beings, capable of a range of emotions: including happiness, sadness, desires, disappointments and frustrations, that they have a will to live, that most are capable of rich social lives, lives which are of inherent value.

…I am fully aware that I can lead a healthy and happy life without consuming animal products, and so, the only reasons to do so, are those of tradition, pleasure or convenience, reasons which are not morally justifiable.

…I’m Lucid/Conscious Living!!

 …I can’t bear the abuse of men over animals!

Meat Market
Meat Market

…quite simply, I choose to live consciously and honestly, rather than hypocritically.
The vast majority of meat eaters could not kill an animal themselves – especially in a circumstance where it is not necessary for one’s survival – and so they conveniently hire far away, anonymous people to kill for them. They then allow themselves no conscious thought of how their meat gets to the nicely packaged end product. When attempts are made to tell them the truth, they close their eyes, block their ears, and run away, terrified at the thought of being viewed – quite accurately – as complicit in the abuse, torture, and death of the animals they consume. It’s much easier to view a package of meat the same way one views a box of crackers – in a very detached and unconscious manner.
I choose to not be a hypocrite; I choose to see the reality – ugly as it is – and to not contribute to it.

I also sent out this statement.

I am not vegan because____________.

I did not get any responses to this one, and that is unfortunate. However, if people took a moment, and I hope they did, to reflect on why they are not vegan, then that is a good thing!!-a small thing, but  a good thing!

Thanks to everyone who contributed. If you would like to add to this discussion, please do so. Just click on the Thoughts button at the bottom of this post  and send me your views.

Links you may find helpful:

The Montreal Vegan Rejects

Earth Friendly Choices

The World Peace Diet


Annie’s Vegan View

Asking the difficult questions can be freeing for oneself and illuminating for others.

While standing alone with conviction  remember to celebrate if  you are joined by even one other voice. Two voices speaking in unison is one hundred percent stronger than one.

Reflection can bring clarity.

I say proudly, that “I am vegan because of and for all the little piggies and nonhumans who suffer at our hands for our wants!”

May all beings be happy and free.


I AM VEGAN BECAUSE____________________!

6 thoughts on “I AM VEGAN BECAUSE____________________!

  • June 23, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Unfortunate not to get a response to the “I am not vegan because____” statement, though perhaps not surprising. There are probably tons of “status quo” decisions that we make daily – what clothes we wear, how we speak to/about our spouses, drive our car (alone) to work, etc. without really thinking about WHY we do them. I think many people continue to use animal products, even when they know the torture that likely went into them, for two main (and very powerful!!) reasons: 1) Tradition, and 2) Convenience.

    This may seem like unimportant or petty reasons, but in fact, they are HUGE. Think about the traditions near and dear to your heart. Think about how much time you are already spending just trying to make it through each day. It can feel extremely challenging to imagine making changes in either of these areas. It’s very easy for me to understand what keeps people doing what they’re used to.

    That being said, I encourage people to give it a try. Any behaviour change is hard, and every behaviour change gets easier when it turns into a habit. I love our vegan traditions – including bbq’d tofu in the summer, kale salad on the weekends, and visiting animal sanctuaries. I have also found that eating/cooking well takes time whether it’s vegan or not. So the convenience thing doesn’t bug me.

    Glad to have the dialogue opened – hope people will join in 🙂

    • June 23, 2014 at 3:51 pm

      Hi Allison,
      As always, very thought provoking comments. Thanks. Change can be hard. That is why I try to set my intention every day. I now think of traditions differently. To me they are whatever we do to celebrate our family. They don’t have to be long held to have value. Quite the opposite.

      • June 23, 2014 at 4:33 pm

        I agree completely! I can’t remember the exact wording of how he said it, but Jonathan Safran Foer (in his book “Eating Animals”) talked about how he had come to view the tradition of sitting down to eat with family quite differently when he learned how animals were treated for this pleasure. He also talked about what family traditions he wanted his young son to learn, and how he could no longer stomach the idea of those traditions including violence the way animal products necessarily do… Wise thoughts.

        • June 23, 2014 at 5:48 pm

          Hi Allison,
          It has been a long time since I read this book and it was before I became vegan. I will have to reread it, now that I see things differently. Will Tuttle talks about something similar. That eating is the most personal thing we can do and we should do it with kindness and compassion!

  • September 28, 2016 at 7:00 am

    I am vegan because I believe every sentient being has a right to it’s own life. They all feel pain, love, joy and sadness and who are we to take that away from them? They all have a right to their own families and they all have their own things that they need to do in this life. We cannot measure animals emotions with a human yardstick. They are different but equal.

    Change can be hard but it was easy for me, once I knew the truth. Old habits can be difficult to break but with practice they become easier. We have all been conditioned to think these traditions are okay, when in fact they are far from it The only way we can change these views is to tackle the problem at it’s roots through education and start with our children who are the future.

    These traditions need to change to more compassionate ones!

    Take care


  • September 29, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Hi Rachel,
    Well said….nothing to add.
    Take care.


Leave a Reply