As a child I had an empathy with animals and was concerned with their welfare, but didn’t go vegetarian until I was 18, as it was around this time that my sister decided to go veggie and we decided to do it together.
I never liked the taste of meat and was always uncomfortable eating anything that looked like a piece of flesh so going vegetarian was easy. I carried on wearing some of my old leather shoes and coats, but soon decided to replace them with animal-friendly versions. I had only been vegetarian for around 6 months when I started reading more about the dairy and egg industries. I was also formulating my own ideas about society and how we exploit and use animals for our own gains. I realised that if I didn’t want to contribute to the suffering of any animals then I needed to go vegan.
I have now been vegan for 18 years and I can honestly say it was the best and most important decision that I have ever made in my life. I only wish I had done it sooner. I feel so much better about myself knowing that I’m doing my best not to contribute to the suffering and exploitation of other sentient beings. In more recent years I have found out about how damaging animal farming is to the environment, so I know that by eating vegan food I’m reducing my carbon footprint too. I feel really healthy, have lots of energy and hardly ever get ill.
One of the biggest challenges as a vegan is trying to fit into a society where the majority don’t share your ethics. For example, it’s sad to hear people talking about farmed animals as though their lives don’t matter, like they’re products on an assembly line. Having said that, veganism is becoming more popular and I know that I have helped to motivate others to lead more compassionate lives through my involvement with vegan campaigning. This is why I helped to set up The Vegan Approach – a national group that helps people to go and stay vegan. I also started the Sheffield Vegan Meet Up and Sheffield Vegan Pot Luck groups so that vegans who feel isolated can meet like-minded people and show local eateries that there is a demand for vegan food.
More recently my friend and co-founder of The Vegan Approach, Chrissy Leyland and I started a business called the Vegan Tuck Box – a monthly vegan subscription snack box service. We found through our involvement in vegan campaigning that one thing new vegans find hard to obtain is vegan snacks and treats. So we started Vegan Tuck Box to make exciting new and hard to find vegan products accessible. We hope that we’re making it easier for people to go vegan.