Submitted by Michael
My journey to veganism was a long one beginning nearly twenty years ago when I accompanied a Muslim friend, his brother and their father to the abattoir. For them it was a normal occurrence and a necessary one due to the scarcity of Halal foods in a country town in the early 1990s.
My girlfriend at the time was already heading toward adopting a vegetarian diet and my experience led me down the same path. We were vegetarians for a number of years until one day we were not. I don’t know exactly what happened. Perhaps the distance from the events at the abattoir was sufficient for me to forget and perhaps complacency had crept in.
I then spent the next ten years as a meat eater. My next girlfriend was raised on a farm (dairy) and meat and three veg was standard fair. I learnt a lot about the dairy industry but chose to ignore the fact that cows are kept in a state of perpetual pregnancy and that any bulls that are born are sent off to be slaughtered. My girlfriends mother, however, did end up hand rearing a number of bulls, which she ensured had their own paddock when they got older.
A few years ago I met my current girlfriend who was raised a vegetarian and who has since become a vegan. I must admit that I was resistant at first to becoming vegetarian, again feeling as though I was expected to become a vegetarian because she was.
At first I felt as though it was being imposed upon me and so I resisted until one day I realised I’d pretty much been living as a vegetarian for the best part of two years and that I may as well accept the fact, that I was a vegetarian and I was happy to be so. (I think that imposed may be too strong a word. I think it was more a wanting to share with me and have me understand how she felt about being vegetarian and the significance of such a lifestyle.)
Veganism had not been something I had considered, even though I knew people who were vegan, and had listened to them speaking about the dairy industry and the environmental impacts of raising livestock.
In the end my shift to veganism occurred relatively quickly after I had stopped resisting. I was able to see the good in my dietary choices and that I could – with what has been very little effort – remove the remaining animal products from my diet.
The first step was a coffee, made with half soy milk and half milk. I wasn’t a fan of soy milk and wanted to ease myself into it. I really missed cheese for a while and on occasion I get a craving for eggs, but for the most part it’s been easy.
Of course there is some adjusting needed and it can be difficult on occasion to go out to dinner. Yes, people seem to want to constantly question my dietary choices – strange that I should be the one to justify a diet that doesn’t require the taking of an animal’s life. But these things are insignificant in comparison to the benefits of a vegan diet.