Being vegan is a pain in the arse (but you should do it anyway)
I'll start off by saying I'm no martyr. I knew the decision was going to be tough the moment I made it, but I suspected the pros would outweigh the cons. That being said, I had no idea what I was letting myself in for.
In being vegan, you have to draw your own line — it's a rabbit hole otherwise. Where does it end?
It may not be a popular opinion, but to be 100% vegan is near impossible. I drive a car, I use modern technology, I spend £5 notes. It's all dependent on what is possible and logical within your own lifestyle. How much inconvenience can you handle?
Define Your Intention
The definition of veganism is, "Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose."
This is not a get out of jail free card. You can't redefine the term or its ethics, but you do have to be practical. Obviously, this is where people can start shouting HYPOCRITE at me and my fellow vegans.
If you're not familiar with the network of folk all clustered together in oneness under the umbrella definition, you need to know this. They're just like everyone else except they're really angry.
I mean really fucking angry.
They're angry with the world around them. They're angry with the animal agriculture industry. They're angry they can't get a decent meal in a "normal" restaurant. They're angry their friends and family make revolting jokes, give them grief, and ask them ignorant questions.
They're angry it is deemed socially acceptable to eat the corpse of an animal. They're angry that the majority of people are brainwashed into thinking it's perfectly fine to turn a blind eye to the suffering of farm animals, yet those same people are up in arms when, let's say, a gorilla is killed by a zoo or a lion is shot by a game hunter.
They're even angry with each other for being more or less vegan than they themselves.
Peace, Love, Harmony
You embark on the vegan journey believing you will find peace, love, and harmony, but you soon hate everyone.
Turning away from consuming animal products is like an awakening. For me, at least, it was more of an epiphany than a decision. That statement alone will drive other people to attack you. It sounds so patronising and self-righteous. The fact is, it's the truth as far as I'm concerned and I will not be dismounting the metaphorical tall steed I'm sat upon for the foreseeable.
The list of stupid reasons to attack vegans is endless, however, so is the list of responses. I'm not going to go into the generic "bacon tho!" argument or the whole "where do you get your protein?" debate. It's old and haggard and I'm done with it.
What I will go into is how viciously passionate vegans are about the following 3 things. A. not causing pain and suffering to animals, B. the plight of mother earth and, C. vegan food.
Now, call me an idiot, but is it not a common belief that we should not hurt living creatures? I would imagine most people would answer yes to this. This is enough of a reason for me to be vegan, but the justifications made for doing so are limitless and some just beggar belief.
Obviously, people like the taste of meat. We have been eating meat since the dawn of man. I agree, meat is delicious and yes, of course, we have been eating it for a long-ass time.
I put it to you, does the end justify the means? Is it OK to kill because the end result is tasty, juicy flesh?
I appreciate it is more socially acceptable to kill and eat one species above another, but why? How come poor chickens, cows, pigs, and sheep got the raw end of the deal? If human meat was delectable (I'm not saying it isn't) then why don't we eat our dead? Is it because, morally, we have an issue with it? Why? It's a waste of meat, surely? Other animals are quite happy being cannibals and if we're going to use that argument (the food chain, etc.) then we should adopt other animal instinctive habits, shouldn't we?
May our hearts overcome our appetites.
What about countries that eat dogs? Why aren't we on board with that? What sets apart a dog or cat from a cow or a pig?
It's been proven our dinner is intelligent. It's been proven our lunch is sentient.
Why do we see one as friend and one as food?
And if we've been doing something for all these years, that must mean it's right, right? Like locking up the mentally ill and homosexuals, perhaps we should go back to clubbing our women on the head and dragging them back to our caves. I know, let's get all those orphan children and send them to the workhouse. That seems right because that's what they used to do.
Social ethics have evolved, albeit differently around the globe, but they have evolved, nonetheless, and continue to do so. Ethically, we can all agree, it's not cool to hurt or kill another living creature, but in the case of an omnivore, it's fine if you're going to eat it or use all of it.
I'm sure you can understand why a vegan would be pretty pissed about this logic and end up angry at everyone around them for shrugging and saying, yeah basically, I like meat so I'm going to pay for someone to kill animals to put on my plate.
Do you donate?
We’re tearing down rainforests to grow crops, which are mostly used to feed animals, which then get slaughtered for you to eat. World hunger would not exist if we just fed these crops directly to people who are starving.
This deforestation is causing other endangered animals to lose their habitats. Do you care about these creatures? The ones we’re all trying to save by donating £3 a month?
The amount of methane produced and waste products from the farming industry is killing the planet. This industry is responsible for so much pollution and deforestation, it’s disgusting.
So even if you don’t give a shit about animals, do you give a shit about your fellow humans? The planet you’re leaving behind for your kids and their kids?
Salad And Sadness
And vegan food.
The reason we all harp on about what we’re eating is because we’re excited to be scoffing amazing food, which has caused no harm or suffering. There are more choices out there than ever and being able to eat a massive plate of enchiladas, knowing no animals were hurt, is an awesome feeling.
We’re trying to show you being vegan isn’t all twigs and leaves. We can eat a huge variety of food, some of which you wouldn’t even know was vegan, if you just tried it!
Vegans get your back up.
As I've already said above, the choice for me to go vegan was an epiphany. I was half-way through my chicken and salmon salad, scrolling aimlessly through Facebook when someone in the office caught my attention.
When I turned back to my screen, a video was auto-playing and it showed a man surrounded by chickens. I watched as the subtitles came up, "you're not secret filming are you?" "Haha, no mate." This man then proceeds to hook a live chicken with a metal pole. He drags it towards himself, giving it a wallop on the back a couple of times. He then swings the bar against the chicken's legs. This poor chicken is scrambling around on the floor, desperately trying to get away from this man. It really is upsetting. The guy is brandishing this pole and just pointlessly hitting these birds, for no real reason.
I still can't fathom now what the point was. Just straight up cruelty.
That's when I dropped my fork and said, fuck it, I'm going vegetarian.
Behind Closed Doors
Unfortunately, (or fortunately, you decide), we don't get to see what really goes on in these places. Sure you have free roaming and free range and organic, etc. but the reality is there is a hell of a lot going on behind closed doors that we don't know about and I, for one, don't want to run the risk of contributing to it.
At this point, I had no idea about the dairy industry so I was quite content in thinking I was doing the right thing. Then I watched a great little video on YouTube, Dairy is Fucking Scary. Well, that was it. I had no idea that in order for us to take milk from a cow, we had to discard her calf. What then happens to that calf? It certainly doesn't get taken on an all expenses paid trip to Disney World. Slaughter, veal or the life of a dairy cow.
I wasn't aware that male chicks were considered a bi-product of the egg industry and either suffocated in bags or shredded, live. Shredded! What the actual fuck?
Now I know this doesn't go on everywhere, but are you really 100% sure that the "food" you're eating hasn't been through, at least in part, some pain or suffering?
So what do us vegans do? We try to actively 'out' these processes, we post horrid videos and passive aggressive memes. We put this shit all over our social media, write on £5 notes telling people to watch Cowspiracy and Earthlings (seriously, watch them). We basically attempt to show others what made us go vegan.
This is where we start to really piss people off. They don't want to see that!
Of course, they know it goes on, but Christ on a bicycle, they couldn't live without cheese.
Why are vegans so intent on guilt-tripping other people? Why are we always harping on about being vegan? Why are we forcing our opinions down other people's throats?
Hold up, could it be for no other reason than to potentially get others to see things from the perspective of the animal? Could it be that because being vegan helps, not only farm animals, but could reduce the rate at which the rainforests are being cleared to grow soy, most of which is consumed by farm animals and in turn alleviate some of the destruction of endangered species habitats?
Could it be that we're trying to get people to open their eyes just as ours were opened?
For fuck's sake! I'm not boasting about being a vegan or saying I'm better than you, because I don't consume meat and dairy. I want you to see the horror going on around you, I want you to understand the process your meal has been through and as a compassionate, intelligent person who doesn't want to cause harm or suffering, I would assume you'd be fucking grateful, not pissed off at me for pointing out the reality!
Sorry, not sorry.
Ultimately it's worth it.
It's by no means easy being vegan. You have to organise yourself when it comes to cooking or eating out, emailing restaurants before you go and Googling each draft lager to make sure it hasn't been filtered through fish innards, but to know every day that you're reducing harm and suffering makes it all worth it.
To have had that lightbulb go off in your head. To be able to see animals and know that you're not going to eat one of their kin later that day is a wonderful feeling.
It is so very worth it on a personal level.
Luckily, the more people are learning, the more they are turning, so keep on trucking.
Anyone who's curious need only watch a couple of documentaries and ask for some guidance in the beginning and you'll be well on your way to doing something that matters.