I went vegan in college, many lifetimes ago, before Facebook and the Internet, or Daiya!
It happened the moment I opened up the book “Diet For A New America” by John Robbins and started thumbing through the photographs of farmed animals in cages and factory farms.
I had never considered that the meat, dairy and eggs I was consuming were actually sentient beings and/or their property. I knew in my heart that what I was seeing and doing was out of alignment with my values. In that moment, I went vegan on the spot. I had no idea what I would eat or that there was a philosophy called veganism, but I wanted out of this system of exploitation. I ate a vegan diet for three and a half years, until cognitive dissonance set back in. I went back to consuming fishes, eggs and dairy.
For a while I was able to live in a state of cognitive dissonance, until the nagging feeling that something wasn’t right became too powerful, and the voice of conscience too loud.
Many years later, I told myself that I was going to go vegan for one week. I just couldn’t shut off my conscience, so this is the deal I made with myself to quiet the angst. A couple of days into it, I knew that I had made a life decision that would change me forever. I knew that I wasn’t going to go back to eating, or using, nonhuman animals ever again. The angst that had been plaguing me went away. The best way to describe it is a feeling of coming into myself, of feeling at home in my mind and body. It would take years for me to truly understand what that feeling was, which was – and is – living up to the image I have of myself. All of us strive to be the best person that we can be, to live up to the ideals and values that we place on ourselves and others. My values of compassion, empathy, fairness, and justice came into alignment with how I was now living. I was no longer at war with my own conscience. And in a larger context, I had found my purpose, which was to fight for and advocate for the rights of other animals. I would later dedicate my life and work to this cause.