How I turned to veganism after growing up on a meat-based diet
Everybody has a story to tell and everybody’s path in life is different. But, if, like me, you constantly blog about veganism, then sooner or later, it’s right to explain how your own path brought you to this point.
That’s what I believe anyway, if you disagree, then I guess you can stop reading now.
I personally know very few vegans who went from eating meat straight to veganism – I can only think of one in fact. Most of us became a vegetarian first, and then progressed to veganism. This is why the hatred some vegans express towards vegetarians is, at best, misguided and, at worst, puts people off wishing to make the transition.
I’m a punk at heart, and if someone keeps telling me to do something, then the inner rebel in me screams “no” right in their face. The same can be said for many vegetarians who are bullied by vegans because they still consume milk.
Of course, I’d like to see a perfect vegan utopia – but I don’t want to kill all vegetarians to get to that point. I’d much rather hand them the information and let them come to natural conclusions in their own time.
I prefer to praise people who do something for animal welfare, rather than immediately condemning them for not doing enough.
The first hint that something called “animal rights” even existed, came from a school friend who lived up the road. He had discovered some new punk bands called Crass and Conflict. He brought their records round my house and explained the animal rights philosophies behind these ‘80s anarcho bands. I didn’t really “get it” at that point – and I was more of a metal head anyway – Motorhead and Slayer were “my bag” at that point.
Soon after that I went to sixth form college – to retake my GCSEs and progress on to A-levels. The first day there, I got lost after going to McDonalds for lunch – a sure omen that eating dead animals is a bad thing.
At some point during my first month in further education, I made friends with a vegetarian who took me into the library and showed me an animal rights film – I can’t remember which one – it might even have been a clip from The Animals Film (the greatest animal rights movie ever made) – but I went home that night vowing to never eat meat again.
I do remember it was a Friday – so it was “chippy night” in our house. But, for the first time, I had just chips instead of having fish or a burger with my deep fried delight. The thought of what oil the chips were cooking in, or what products they shared a fryer with didn’t even enter my skull at that stage.
And so it began. I’m sure my parents thought it was a fad. After all, I discovered the art of protest around the same time, as students were marching against the Thatcher government’s plans to introduce student loans – needless to say, we lost that one!
My mum actually bought me a microwavable veggie cheeseburger to quickly heat up after I returned from one such demo – so I met no resistance at home – although the “fad” continues to this day, as I race through my 40s!
I only had one little health food shop to feed my needs in the small town I called home. That shop is, in fact, still trading today and is still my favourite health store – ever!
Supermarkets had very little for us plant eaters, but I did try soya milk – as I began to hear about veganism – and it was awful. It was basic and tasteless – so hats off to those who were already vegan in the ‘70s and ‘80s, my transition would come much later.
It wasn’t that I didn’t support animal rights causes back then, but from what I remember, campaigners were more aimed at turning people vegetarian than vegan, and, as I have said, the dairy alternatives were certainly nothing to write home about.
So I kind of forgot about furthering my dietary path I guess.
I can’t remember the exact age I turned vegan. It was round about the age of 30 – give or take – but it came from common sense, not seeing gory pictures on posters or leaflets (the internet was still in its infancy – Facebook hadn’t been forged from the depths of hell yet).
I just thought to myself “how is drinking the milk of another species natural?” And that was it. I decided that it wasn’t, so I would go vegan.
The horrendous cruelty of the dairy and egg industries didn’t even enter my head, I just thought that nicking a mum’s milk (in this case the cow’s) was literally taking candy from a baby and was a strange concept – so I stopped buying into the industry.
Of course, now I equate both of these industries with death and abuse and wish everybody would avoid them, but I arrived at this point, not through shouty, shouty tactics, not through seeing graphic pictures and not through being lectured to on Facebook, but through common sense, pure and simple.