Jane is the co-founder of Veganuary. She was a vegetarian for 10 years before she met Matthew. Now she wonders why it took her so long to become a vegan too! Jane thinks that Veganuary is the perfect way for people to try vegan food and learn about the suffering of farmed animals and the impact that meat-eating has on people’s health and the natural world.
I’d say my path to veganism began with a famous dog. Lassie. 🙂 Lassie was a border-collie and the star of her own TV show. As a child I would watch intently and follow her weekly escapades. It was during these adventures that Lassie would often get hurt or trapped and I would sob to see her pain and distress. My mum would try to switch off the TV, but I’d protest and shout, ‘NO, I need to know what happens’. And she’d let me watch, because, inevitably, Lassie would be rescued and I could go to bed happy: content that the suffering had stopped.
It was a further 15 years before I lost that contentment. I saw undercover footage filmed on factory farms and in slaughterhouses. There was no one there to switch this off. And there was certainly no happy ending for these animals. I was distraught. Gut-wrenchingly sickened. Unlike Lassie, this animal suffering was not the result of a misadventure; it was an industry. An industry I had supported with every trip to McDonalds and KFC and my weekly Sunday dinner. That stopped. I went vegetarian.
Making the decision to go veggie took away my feelings of guilt, but that sadness for the animals will always be there. So too will the feelings of anger and frustration. Anger at the injustice of these needless deaths, frustrated because the solution is so clear. To stop this suffering requires no government intervention, no scientific discovery, no multi-million investment, just a small change to people’s dinner plates. This can end when we refuse to spend!
I ate animals for 21 years and continued to consume their products (eggs, dairy and honey) for another 9. This is not about purity or righteousness; veganism is about compassion. And I believe that most people do care. I did. But I still funded animal slaughter for the majority of my life. Why? Because the mainstream is so incredibly powerful. We know there’s comfort and acceptance in large numbers. When my mum joked, ‘would I put my head in an oven if my best friend did,’ I said, ‘of course not’. But if my all my friends and family were doing it, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been far behind!
When Matthew and I founded Veganuary, we wanted to provide people with the practical help and advice to try vegan, but we also wanted to create an inclusive community where people could feel supported and heard.