Why I am Vegan

Fri 2015-06-19

So let me start by saying this isn’t an argument for veganism. This isn’t me giving you facts, this isn’t me trying to make you feel guilty, this isn’t anything but me talking about my feelings. That means you can’t respond with an argument because what are you going to say? That my feelings are wrong? There is no such thing. So if you’re offended by veganism, please let me be. Otherwise, please continue and learn something about me that I’m usually too afraid to talk about!

Some people choose veganism because of the logical reasons such as the environmental and health benefits. However, for me, it was all based on what made most sense emotionally.

As a child, my family grew food. There were wild and domestic fruit trees, berries, vegetables, melons, squash, beans, all sorts of things! We also had chickens and angus cows. Summers were spent stuffing myself with berries before the birds could get them and eating fruit right off the trees. Every morning was an Easter egg hunt and I would hang out with the cows. I never made a connection when one of the cows would disappear and suddenly the garage freezer would be full of meat.

It wasn’t until the summer of 2007, before high school and two years after my parents began their divorce, that it really sank in. I was eating dinner at my cousins’ house and a vein in my chicken switched off a sad, sad light bulb in my head -- my “food” used to be a living, breathing, feeling, sentient creature. The next night we had pork and all I could think of was a cute little piglet frolicking in a flowery meadow. I decided at that moment that I would be vegetarian.

It was easy for me because of my strong connection to living things. In my mind, animals are people too and every bit as deserving of life as we are. Specifically, my morality is Negative Utilitarian and so I try to always choose the least harmful option. So based on my own, personal beliefs on morality, vegetarianism/veganism is a moral choice. To me, it feels like doing the “right” thing, which is very important to me.

My dad’s family doesn’t see it that way at all. I get a lot of comments and disapproval from my grandmother and my aunt. Years after becoming vegetarian, at a holiday dinner, my cousin innocently asks “Oh, you’re still vegetarian? Dad [my uncle] said that it was just a phase…” My cousins had become interested in vegetarianism after I became vegetarian and my uncle and aunt would not allow them to. And then in 2013, after six years of vegetarianism, I became vegan. This naturally escalated the disapproval of my extended family. In their eyes, being vegetarian/vegan is just being a picky eater and a “choice” which causes them inconvenience.

It may technically be a choice, but it’s not much of a choice for me. As I already discussed, my sense of morality and my view on the sentience of animals leads me to agree with the infamous saying “meat is murder.” My instinct is to throw in another disclaimer: “This is just my opinion! I don’t hate you! Don’t get mad! I’m not trying to make you feel guilty! Yes, I know not eating bacon is hard, it’s okay! Please don’t fight with me!” If I were vegan for the logical reasons, of course I’d discuss it with you. But you can’t have a discussion with me when it’s an emotional thing involving emotions you don’t share or understand.

But please do try to understand! My emotions are of someone from the future trapped in the past. Imagine being trapped in the South during slavery and seeing all the suffering of African-Americans and thinking “This is wrong! Every bit of this is wrong! Blacks are people too!” and not being able to do anything about it because that’s the culture. In that time, people treated dark-skinned people like cattle. And think about that! “Like cattle” -- obviously there is something wrong with the way we treat cattle if that saying has such a negative meaning.

Vegetarianism and veganism are becoming so popular and experts have been predicting that animal meat may eventually disappear from our diets, especially now that lab-grown meat has been successfully created and found delicious. Someday kids will look back in horror at our barbaric and violent past, just like how we looked back in horror at slavery and the Holocaust.

Now this is where I may REALLY offend you.

Holocausts happen every day. I am living in a world where the Holocaust is widely accepted and I’m “wrong” to not want to participate. “I don’t like killing Jews.” “You don’t like killing Jews?! But it just feels SO GOOD! How can you live without killing Jews?!” “Um, well… to me Jews are people too, so it’s kind of like murder...” “Um, no! Jews are jews and people are people. You shouldn’t try to make people feel guilty. You should really keep your opinions to yourself. Here’s some advice: Try not to bring it up so that people won’t hate you.” And I have to say “okay” because the person is right -- if I say anything about veganism, people get offended. They think that I think I’m better than them. They think vegans are all high and mighty. I’m just trying to do what I think is right like anyone would. What if I got offended and angry if you said “I’m the designated driver.” “Wow, you’re a self-righteous prick.” Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

The response to the designated driver should be “Wow, that’s really good of you.” Though to be honest, I don’t like that response for veganism. “Oh, you’re vegan?” “Yeah.” “Wow, that’s so admirable. I wish I could be vegan, but I like bacon too much!” “Yeah, it’s really hard, haha.” “But yeah, good for you!” “Thanks, haha.” The is the better of the reactions people have when they find out I’m vegan, but it makes me feel really awkward because I don’t like my veganism being put on a pedestal. When people respond with admiration, they unknowingly place me high up which only reinforces the “high and mighty” stereotype.

That example conversation was a real conversation with a hair stylist. I had been in there before when my sister got her haircut and it came up that I was vegan. Months later, I go to get a haircut and the hair stylist who cut my sister’s hair says “I remember you! You’re the vegan, right?” And I wish I could have said, “No, I’m Brittany” but of course I said, “Yeah! Wow, you remembered!” Then my hair stylist followed up with that conversation. The whole Hair Cuttery was on me and my veganism. Why is it such a big deal that I’m vegan? I’m a complex person like everyone else and I have no interest in being admired for what I would do anyway.

Of course being admired is the best of the usual responses. Fortunately, aggressive offense is not the most frequent either. The most frequent are innocent but irritating questions which either have me repeating the same answer (and accidentally sounding condescending) or feeling pretty awkward because it’s just so personal.

  • “Oh you’re vegan? Well where do you get your protein?” Meat isn’t the only source of protein! Obviously I’ve researched this a lot, and likely more than you. Trust me when I say I’m getting my protein, and in a good amino acid profile. -- Of course I say it more nicely, but that’s what I’m thinking. It’s not an ill-intentioned question, but I am so. very. tired of it.

  • “Why are you vegan?” That’s so personal. And sensitive. And no. So I say “Uhh…” and try my best to sum it up nicely. But I usually end up offending them some way or another, which leads to angry, defensive follow-up questions. I know they’re just curious, which is great, but please don’t ask me a question you don’t want to hear the answer to.

I wish I could be left alone about it sometimes. I hate being poked at or attacked for something so significant to me. The suffering of animals is something that I cry about when distractions fail. All the pain that exists in the world due to our treatment of animals is a very sensitive topic to me. If you’re curious about veganism, that’s wonderful! There are a lot of resources on the internet that can answer all your questions and give you multiple views on debatable facts. Do please come to me if you choose to go veg and want advice. I’m just so tired of non-veg people giving me such trouble over my personal beliefs.

I understand that in this world, many people don’t “get” vegans. There are a lot of stereotypes. I understand that if I want to be “radical” I will get hate. It’s like being a civil rights activist, a women’s rights activist, a LGBT rights activist. I’m an animal rights activist. That doesn’t mean I’m better than you. It just means I’m from the future! It’s not fun, but it makes me really happy to be following what I believe in.

By Britt, Category: Biography

Tags: animal rights / love /

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