We had a lesson at school called 'Rural Studies' in which we were shown all aspects of life on a farm; including the slaughter of animals. Up until this point I was unaware that a burger or a sausage roll was, at some point, a cow or a pig.
So, after watching a video in school following the process from birth to plate, aged 11, I went vegetarian. I was lucky as my mother and father never tried to force me to eat meat again, even though I am sure they assumed this was a phase.
I thought I was doing all I could to avoid harm to animals; I believed that milk, eggs and leather were simply by-products, and caused no harm. I even believed that vegans were extreme until I made the connection that in order for me to drink this milk, it meant a calf was not. This got me thinking; what happens to all the calves and chicks in the dairy and egg industries? What I discovered had a profound effect on me, and a huge wave of guilt overcame me. I was a hypocrite. I believed that the slaughter of animals was wrong, so how could I have been so naïve in thinking that none were harmed in these industries?
I decided to go vegan last October, and lasted two weeks, but I was determined not to let the cheese beat me! I found out about Veganuary and I realised that all I needed in order to succeed was some advice and support as at that time I knew no other vegans. So, on the 31st of December as I was about to toast in the New Year, I made a promise to myself and to the animals to go vegan and stick to it. That was the best promise I have ever made. Veganuary was perfect for me; it is such a helpful, non-judgemental supportive group who looked at the bigger picture of veganism. I have learnt a lot, I have improved my cooking skills and enjoy discovering new recipes and products, I lost over a stone in weight (without trying), have more energy and above all else, that feeling of guilt has gone. I FEEL better, in terms of physical health (I’ve not had a cold since last year) and within my own being. I suffered from chronic headaches for nearly two years, waking up every day, and falling asleep at night in pain was unbearable. Since going vegan, the headaches have lessened, and *touching wood* I haven’t had a severe episode since June.
I am coming up to my 12th month of veganism, and things have changed dramatically. From not knowing a single vegan I now work with 4 other vegans (that I know of, there are likely to be more!), have supported my own friends in their decision to go vegan, and am looking forward to my first vegan Christmas.
If you want to go vegan, or are just vegan curious, Veganuary is the best place to start.