If you would have asked me 8 years ago about veganism I would have said: “Whoa, that’s nothing for me! Way too extreme!” – keep in mind that I had been vegetarian for almost 9 years by then already. Today I only wish I would have gone vegan sooner. In this most personal post so far I’m sharing what made me go vegan.
Consuming animal products is deeply entrenched in our society. Most of us grew up with eating animals and their byproducts and it was taken as a given, as normal. That’s also why you might feel some anger or frustration while reading this post. Be aware that it’s probably not me you’re angry about but it’s more likely that something within you that got triggered because you might feel like me deep down after all: Killing for pleasure is wrong. Treating animals badly, hurting them, is wrong. We teach our children to be nice to animals but at the same time, we support a violent system which exploits them. How is that possible? Because we are making a choice with every meal without even noticing.
When did you decide to eat meat?
When did you decide to eat meat from only a handful of species? When did you decide to drink baby food from cows? When did you decide to eat eggs from chickens? If you were given the options of an apple and a living chicken on a table, what would you eat? And why would you be grossed out if I offered you Golden-Retriever-stew or a fried kitten leg?
I went vegetarian when I was eleven. I had to do some research on fur animal farming for school, which led me to videos from slaughterhouses by an Austrian animal rights society called VGT and that did the rest. What had been seen could not be unseen. The blood, the pain, the screams, the cruelty… is all that really worth a taste experience in my mouth? I refused to continue eating most meat – I did continue to eat fish for a while though, which in retrospect was only possible because I wasn’t aware of the cruelty of modern-day fishing. Killing animals for a fleeting pleasure did not make any sense to me. I cared too much for animals to be supporting this violent and horrible industry any longer.
But dairy is ok, right?
Until I was nineteen I was still eating cheese on a regular basis. I didn’t eat many eggs or dairy products anymore, but cheese was the thing. But hey, I thought at least no animal has to die for cheese, right? Wrong. The dairy industry is closely linked to the veal production: Because the demand for dairy is so high and cows only give milk after calving, there are too many male cows to feed and bring up so they end up in a slaughterhouse sooner than later. Only female cows are being kept to take the place of their mothers as by humans impregnated milk machines. But in the end, every dairy cow will end up as beef. The great Erin Janus has made a 5-minute-video which explains it all – but you might not be able to handle it. Yes, there is a reason why you usually don’t see how animal products are made – it’s gross.
We grow up being told that dairy is healthy and necessary but have you thought about it from a different angle yet? Why do we drink cow’s milk but not dog’s milk, pig’s milk or horse milk? When did we agree on making the arbitrary choice of consuming the baby food of ONE species? And did you know that the coagulated baby food, aka cheese is actually addictive?
The talk of Dr. Melanie Joy on the psychology of eating meat was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. I can honestly credit my final step to ditch the occasional cheese and become fully vegan more than three years ago to her. I had the pleasure of experiencing a live talk with her in Vienna but she also made a short TEDxtalk which sums up her results of almost twenty years of research on why people eat meat and how they justify this atrocity:
I realised I could only continue to consume animal products if I shut down my logical thinking and my emotions at the same time. I could only go on supporting the hurting and killing of animals if I refused to look the truth in the eye. I did more research both on- and offline and everything pointed towards veganism for me. Gary Yourofsky was another major inspiration but be aware that he is way more direct than Dr. Joy and he is not sugarcoating anything:
And the yoga?
My yoga practice has definitely played a big role in this decision as well because I wanted to live my yoga. I became more aware of my patterns of justifying certain destructive behaviors, I became more aware of how my body feels after certain foods. Since going vegan I have never felt better in both body and mind. Also, my yoga and meditation practice started to feel more authentic because I was finally living my conviction, which also corresponds with the very first guideline in the yoga sutras, wholeheartedly: non-harming. Not me, not other people, not other living beings as far as possible. I finally didn’t feel like a fraud like I would when I was nibbling some cheese. And that felt way better than cheese could ever taste. Yes I know there is no living without harming, I am stepping on ants, I am inhaling small insects and so on, but the point is to minimize the harm.
But vegans are lacking some nutrients, right?
Unfortunately, there are still a lot of misconceptions about veganism out there but there are many YouTubers who debunk the most common “arguments” against veganism in both English and German. My favorite in English is Mic the vegan and in German Der Artgenosse and Vegan ist ungesund. Very briefly summed up: You can thrive on a plant-based diet at any age. The only thing you need to supplement is B12 (and that is super easy), you get everything else from eating a balanced wholefoods diet. I have never heard one good solid arguments against veganism or why it’s okay to eat animals. It always comes down to “it tastes good”. I do respect people who say they are okay with killing an animal for their meal. However, most people couldn’t kill an animal, including me and for me a taste in my mouth is not worth taking a life.
Veganism is a vast topic on which I could write much more addressing many issues I just touched on the surface here. Concluding I can say that eating plants is better for my health, for the animals, and for the planet. However, I know that nobody can make someone else go vegan. This is a decision that has to form within yourself from your own understanding and compassion. It took years for me to make the connection and please know that every single vegan meal makes a difference. You don’t have to go completely vegan in one day, it’s usually a longer process because you have to get rid of a very strong cultural bias and of some lifelong habits. I am happy to answer any questions you might have about my journey or veganism in general. My goal is not to condemn anyone but to inspire and educate with this post. Most of my friends including my boyfriend are NOT vegan. Nevertheless, I choose to live by example.
Veganism isn’t about being perfect. It isn’t about being superior. It’s about looking beyond ourselves, thinking about how our choices affect others and choosing to live as compassionately as we can. – The Vegan Activist
I will add some more resources videos that have inspired and educated me on my journey so far below but thank you already for reading this, it means a lot to me!
The wonderful Mayim Bialik:
Short and to the point:
How a billion dollar industry funds animal cruelty:
Health and veganism:
We are all connected. A very tough one tough one to watch but a very important one in my opinion:
The problem with eggs:
The horrors of the fishing industry:
The most common misconceptions debunked in one video:
All the facts united in a short video:
Basically the same in German: