My journey started 32 years ago when I was a 7 year old daughter of a pig factory slaughterman who 'progressed' to being a butcher and then into factory management.
I walked into our living room to my father watching a video of the ‘killing line’ as he wrote notes about time and motion, seeing how he could speed up the ‘process’ to make more money for the Directors. He saw me walk in and quickly turned it off, so I ended up seeing just a flash of horror. I had lots of questions including how animals are killed to create meat and how they are reared. I was horrified at the answers after being told a different story from my teachers at school about happy farm animals, a ‘humane’ end, and ‘dumb’ animals who don’t realise they are being killed!
That night I had cornflakes for dinner and refused to eat meat again, much to my family’s annoyance. I was however unaware that the milk on my cornflakes involved as much death and suffering as the meat I had previously eaten.
I then spent the next 30 years explaining to ‘dense’ people that “Yes I did eat eggs and drink milk. I’m a Vegetarian, not a Vegan! Animals don’t have to be killed to get their milk and eggs do they?!” . . . . I must have said this a million times in 30 years and now I feel so stupid! I was the dense one, not them.
I learnt the truth from my eldest daughter who learnt at a 6th form lesson, all about the meat and dairy industry. I was shocked. I felt 7 again, lied to by all of society. Even the free range eggs I had always insisted on buying, now felt ridiculous!
So I straight away tried to cut out dairy. That’s when I realised I had substituted dairy for the meat in every meal. I had no idea where to start or what to eat. To top it all, myself and my children have a soya allergy so that ruled out a lot of the alternatives.
I realised that after 30 years of being a Vegetarian, it had become a lifestyle that I would struggle to change. I now understood why meat eaters struggled to become Vegetarian after so many years of eating their diet. It gave me more empathy towards them.
But I wasn’t going to give up as the suffering and murder of animals and their babies was not acceptable in a civilised society and made me thoroughly sick.
It was also difficult to convince my 3 children to eat this new Vegan food especially when my son already resented the Vegetarian food that he had been brought up on.
My eldest daughter was keen to become Vegan but struggled like myself and my youngest was keen to be Vegan as long as she didn’t have to eat the food!! I would have to find better recipes!
Whilst struggling with this change in our diet, I discovered CALF, a Vegan cafe in Scarborough whose profits all go to their animal sanctuary. The animals are saved from the meat and dairy industry. I met the incredible Sharon who started this dream. She said that one day when she was a Vegetarian, she realised that it was not enough. She then thought, “What if I die tomorrow? What can I say that I have done to help this holicaust? Could I say that I stood up and was the voice of the voiceless?!”
That had a profound effect on me and despite all my excuses of ‘just this one chocolate bar’ or ‘i’ll be a strict Vegan tomorrow’ I made a pact to educate myself properly to eat a good Vegan diet. It also made me take a good hard look at myself and my life. It was time to speak up for the animals and help others become Vegan too.
Now I really enjoy my new varied Vegan diet even with my soya allergy. Who needs soya when there is cashew cheese and oat milk! It has made me more adventurous with food than I ever would have been. I am also now rarely ill and have so much more energy than before. I used to be constantly tired and ill with a cold or bug every month or two. I even thought I might have ME. Now my work and home life is much improved. It has really changed my life! Even my ‘adult acne’ has almost totally cleared up after 20 years of tablets and creams that didn’t work! Who knew?!