I always have a few ideas floating around in my head at any given time, ideas about tolerance, love, power, cruelty, disconnectedness and how these all relate to and often fuel our treatment (mistreatment) of other species for our wants, not needs. Of course this way of thinking and seeing the world is new to me because for most of my life, I have been an uninformed, willing consumer of other beings. And even after my daughter started speaking to me about veganism and even after I became what I thought was vegan, I would tell people that I was doing it because of the barbaric treatment of our fellow mortals in factory farm settings. Little did I know that this was just the tip of the iceberg lettuce.
I am thankful to my daughter for pointing out to me that veganism is about not exploiting in any way, wherever possible, other sentient beings on this earth. So factory farming is not the culprit, but rather the fact that we even have and support industries that use other beings for profit. Using pigs for hotdogs, foxes for fur, orcas for entertainment, mice for experimentation, sheep for wool, silkworms for silk, bees for honey……is not cool or acceptable on any level.
Once I understood, accepted, and knew this to be an absolute truth for me, I would sit and ponder what my answer should be when people ask me why I am vegan. I tried several out, first on myself and then with trepidation, on others. Why the trepidation?…certainly not because of my conversation companion’s possible response. No, it was, and still is, so important to me that my delivery be good given the seriousness of the situation, given what is at stake. I did not want to hesitate, to stumble, to sound uncertain or rehearsed. And let’s be honest, even though I believe strongly in the strength of my position as a vegan, going against the grain, shaking up the status quo and questioning mainstream beliefs, habits and traditions can be scary. I liken it to standing up to Goliath, which, by the way, I have done more than once in my life. It was scary every time, but that did not stop me from facing off with a seemingly gigantic and immoveable force. Looking back, I see that I did not always do it well, did not always have the right words which were often delivered in a quaking or combative voice with turncoat tears spilling out of my eyes and streaming down my face, very often further enraging my opponent.
In the end, I did not end up stopping the giant, only death did that. But, I like to think that I stood in his way, that I hampered his cause, that I protected his victims in some small way. If I were to sit and evaluate how these experiences made me who I am today, I would need to have intimate knowledge of who I was when I started out in this life, on this earth. Sadly I no longer have anyone of whom to ask this question. I will say that I do feel more comfortable putting my thoughts down on paper than I do expressing them in a one on one conversation. I feel that I stumble over my words, don’t use the correct words and don’t get the gist of my meaning across in a clear, concise way.
That is why I love the opportunity this website has given me to formulate and unscramble my thoughts, to strengthen my intestinal fortitude, to expand my knowledge of both veganism and the plight of species on this earth who are caught in the deadly grip of our greed, to connect with other advocates, to put my heart down on paper and hopefully to inspire others to choose kindness and compassion over cruelty and disconnectedness.
So, when people ask me why I am vegan, I say to them,
I no longer want to be complicit in the exploitation of other beings for our wants not needs.
I am sure that I will tweak this over time or maybe even change it entirely, but any new response will certainly reflect the view that while the cruel treatment of other beings in all of our various death for profit industries is unconscionable and needs to be addressed, that we are using them and exploiting them at all is what must, at all costs, be stopped. When one goes away so does the other.
So, it just came to me as I was tapping away at the keyboard that I would like to ask how you answer the all too familiar question,
Why are you vegan?
Or, if you are not vegan, just give me your thoughts on the subject of this post.
I invite everyone to answer on my website in the comment section of this post. On July 23rd 2015, I will draw at random two names, one from the list of people who have already subscribed to my website and one from the list of anyone else from who submits an answer. The winners will each win a copy of Dr Will Tuttle’s amazing book, “The World Peace Diet’ or a DVD of the must see documentary, The Ghosts in Our Machine,
depending on your preference. I am so looking forward to reading your considered and heartfelt answers.
Annie’s Vegan View
“Heavens and hells are of our own sowing. We live in a culture that mindlessly exploits animals and encourages the domination of those who are vulnerable by the strong, the male, the wealthy, and the privileged. Dr Will Tuttle, The World Peace Diet page 277
“With the exception of our companion animals and the wild and stray species within our urban environments, we experience animals daily only as the food, clothing, animal tested goods and entertainment we make of them. This moral dilemma is largely hidden from our view.” The Ghosts in Our Machine website.
May all beings be happy and free.
10 thoughts on “Answering the question, “Why are you vegan?”.”
I am vegan because I can no longer NOT be , with the kinds of beliefs I hold dear – all those dreams of peace and non violence, my fervent desire for all the hungry people of the world to have enough food, my love of Nature and my sadness at how much we are destroying. All of it points to me being vegan. There is no other way for someone like me to live. I should have done it long ago, but, like everyone else, I was well and truly lost in the carnist, speciesist myth that underpins Westernised thought. No longer – I was able to break out. Vegan is freedom from the mainstream paradigm, drummed into us as babies and kept there by relentless advertising – most of it lies and deception and cover ups. If most people actually knew the truth behind the stuff they are pleased to call ‘food’, they would vomit on it. Naturally the huge vested interests that are the Meat and Dairy industries do not wish people to find out these truths. Naturally they will try to discredit veganism. They don’t care tuppence for anyone’s health, or the environment, they just want our money. Be kind – stop listening to the adverts, junk the myths, find your hearts and go vegan.
“Vegan is freedom from the mainstream paradigm, drummed into us as babies and kept there by relentless advertising – most of it lies and deception and cover ups.” Very well said. This is one of the things I bring up when people talk to me about personal choice. We are making a cruel personal choice based on learned behavior which cannot be interpreted as an inherent right. We cannot make personal choices that harm others.
Great reply. Thank you for being part of the dialogue here.
Oh, my friend, I so hear you. I feel much more articulate in writing as well (and sometimes fear that if a blog reader actually met me they would wonder who on earth the verbal bumbler in front of them is, snort), and have done my share of hesitating and stumbling when asked the “why are you vegan? question.
I’ve written about it as well, so to save myself time (okay, laziness MAY have something to do with it too), here is the first post:
and here is a follow-up: http://www.havegonevegan.com/2014/03/im-vegan-because-i-dont-believe-in-violence.html
And you’re right that you’ll find yourself tweaking and changing as you go along, and that’s okay too! Since the follow-up post, I’ve also used the line I’m vegan because I don’t support animal cruelty., but I’m sure it’ll get tweaked again. And again. 🙂
So, I guess we could both work on our delivery. I do know what you mean about the blank stare. I understand about people not connecting the dots between the being and the food on their plate, but I also think that the words hit them right between the eyes and they are faced with an immediate moral dilemma. “Do I admit my complicity or deny, deny deny, deny?” Looking in the mirror and recognizing our participation in something that we know is wrong is tough to do. You know the age old argument. It was the other guy or Mister Nobody who did the deed.
This is why we do what we do.
Thanks for weighing in.
Having awoken before most, with a sudden shock aged 14 in 1969, I have decades of vegan life and activism experience to draw upon and share. It isn’t really any less difficult, traumatic or alienating now to be honest than it was back then, despite my now meeting fellow vegans and activists. The catalyst for my enlightenment was watching graphic footage of the WW2 holocaust naked emaciated victims and realising that this was how humans treat farm animals every day. Then whilst washing pigs hearts in the kitchen sink for stuffing and roasting at my mother’s guest house a few days later, I suddenly realised that I held in my hands SOMEONE’s heart which had been alive and beating until cruelly terminated. I wanted to leave this toxic cruel planet then and to be frank still do, but whilst I await personal liberation or global transformation I obey my inner imperative and speak up for the innocent at every opportunity.
Regarding some posts about “personal choice” let it be remembered the personal choice of the sacrificed / murdered / enslaved “OTHER” or the absent referent lying on the slab/plate. He /she too had a desire to live and fulfil themselves which was denied by human interference, greed and anti-empathic vice.
On a positive joyous note, it is my purpose and intention to co-create the Vegantopia of my inspired visions and ideals with like-hearted, gentle, peaceable others. Please join me on facebook at Vegantopia group and Vegantopia page, via my website http://www.vegantopia.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Brightest Vegantopian Blessings to All <3
Welcome to my website and thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I am sorry to hear that you still find being vegan and actively advocating no less difficult, alienating and traumatic with the passage of time, but you would know, having been vegan since such a young age.
Personally I am not sure if it is me being a little more thick skinned or people being more open, but I do find that I don’t get as many sideways glances and blank stares when I voice the truth.
I am not sure if you are referring to posts I may have written about personal choice, but I certainly do tell people unequivocally that person choice is okay as long as no one is being harmed. Great harm and disrespect is being meted out to all beings trapped in all of our death for profit industries.
I do belong to your Facebook group and benefit greatly from the posts I read there. I am not sure if I have been to your website, but I will definitely check it out. Thank you for sharing the links with my readers.
Take care and hope to hear from you again soon.
I don’t have a long spiel for people. I usually say something about how I am vegan because I don’t believe we have the right to use animals, plain and simple. Although I come at it from an emotional place, there isn’t one logical reason for using or eating animals (at least within my particular context). I have also said that I’m vegan because I love animals, but I think it may be more appropriate to say that it’s because I respect animals – I respect their right to have agency over their own existence.
Good to hear from you. I just finished replying to a comment when I saw your mention of respect. I had just finished commenting that, “…Great harm and disrespect is being meted out to all beings trapped in all of our death for profit industries”.
I agree with you, they have the right to agency over their own lives. The “I love animals” phrase is often used by carnists, so I try to steer away from it.
That having been said some may contend that we should free our nonhuman animal companions, that we are enslaving them. When I hear that, I tell people that cats and dogs, in particular, have been domesticated for a very long time. I am offering them protection and choices within the framework of their needs.
Why I’m Vegan
I slowly but surely got informed, with an ever increasing open mind and an ear to my whispering intuition I finally AWAKENED from the deep conditioning and total disconnect that it had caused.
And I shall be spending the rest of my days raising awareness of the injustice and exploitation.. the abhorrent cruel commodification of defenseless sentient beings. I would never in my right mind ingest or wear something that feels pain, fear and joy – just as most others wouldn’t either if it weren’t for the mass brainwashing.. the biggest criminal injustice ever!!!
Looking at history and its progression – there’s only one direction we are going and that is justice and FREEDOM for ALL sentient beings.
Thank you for your passionate and honest reply. I tell people what you say about brainwashing and the resulting lack of critical thinking. It makes a lot of sense to me.
I see that disconnect in people’s eyes when I tell them that personal choice is okay as long as no one is being harmed-the blank stare. I am not sure they think I am mad, or they are trying to hide their embarrassment or shame, or maybe their confusion. In any case, we carry on trying to inform knowing that we are on a path that is going forward. Glad to be on it with you.