The connection between the food on the table and where it had come from didn’t occur until I saw a television programme on the slaughter of different animals, while on holiday in Spain, when I was ten.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and I decided I wasn’t going to eat meat again. That was 35 years ago. Luckily my family took me seriously and within a few years my mum and both sisters followed suit!
This was a time before Linda McCartney meals and ‘V’ symbols on products. We had to go to the health food shop for cheese without animal rennet and, when eating out, I seemed to live on salad and chips. No vegetarian option available then. My cousins remember I wouldn’t have their sweets if they had gelatin in them, to their bemusement. So it was hard, but it just became normal life – being the only vegetarian going out, and being different to the rest of my family.
I still find it hard being around people who literally ‘wouldn’t harm a fly’ and are distraught at the sign of an animal in the slightest distress, but will quite happily sink their teeth into a burger. Hypocrisy is hard to deal with.
Now I’m vegan and it’s the best decision I ever made. The cruelty in the dairy industry is worse than the meat industry. You don’t have to kill an animal to be cruel to it, but death is very much a part of the dairy industry. Eggs are the same, male baby chicks crushed alive in a macerator, surplus to requirements; be it organic, barn or free-range eggs, the industry is neither ethical nor humane.
My background is in nutrition, health and fitness so I’m well placed for any comments that have followed me all my life about ‘but surely we need to eat meat’. Educating people is the only way forward. I’ve never felt so healthy and it’s hard to bottle that! It’s such a shame that veganism needs to be in vogue and celebrity-lead to make an impact on some people.
One of my hobbies is strength training in the gym. Always a good place for some vegan muscle power!! There are so many myths around meat and milk that have been imposed on us by misleading marketing. We really need to dispel those myths, create a healthier vegan lifestyle, look after our fellow animals and save the planet by decreasing greenhouse gasses from the meat and dairy industry. It’s a no brainer! Go vegan.
Jane is the Founder of the Planet V website – a marketplace for vegan and vegetarian products.