I’ve been vegan for more than 15 years and vegetarian many more.
What triggered this change was a video I saw of a slaughterhouse. Many years before that, I used to criticize anyone who’d post such videos with cruel images. I just couldn’t bare to watch them.
One day, I finally decided to watch one such video. I’m not sure which shocked and hurt me more, the screams of the helpless animals, their cruel knowing walk to their death or the beastly actual slaughter by cold machine lines. I was shocked enough to change FOR LIFE.
As it turned out that change was beneficial for my health too.
Then came videos of cruel experiments on animals. From mice and guinea pigs to dogs and monkeys. Universities still using animals to train students to operate on them, without anesthesia, or pharmaceutical companies injecting diseases or harmful substances, when their DNA is very different from ours and chances are what’s good for them is not necessarily good for us, etc
Why not check a list of cruelty free companies that don’t test on animals. There are plenty out there for about everything!
Fur, those videos where so utterly shocking, way beyond cruel that I can’t even describe them, when faux fur has been out there for a long time as well as new materials [much nicer too!] so there REALLY is no reason for example wearing a coat for which 200 chinchillas were killed to make.
Trophy hunting… this one speaks for itself… WHAT FOR? To hung on a wall? To get photographed with a dead animal? Try taking a picture face to face with a live [undrugged!] lion and see how macho you look! Brutally cutting off an elephant’s tasks to make decorations? REALLY?
Animal cruelty, as it turns out, knows no bounds. Dog fighting [here come the worlds’ most misunderstood dog, the Pitbull! – ha, thought I wouldn’t mention the …Pitbull! 😉 – where humanoids bet on which dog will kill the other while fighting, after starving them to death and chaining them to a pole, outside, in horrible weather conditions. On a note about pitbulls, reason why they are chosen for this brutal ‘sport, apart from their strong muscles is their incredible devotion to humans. Animal cruelty has many faces of course, from animal abuse by lunatics to dog meat festivals, killing sharks for their fin and leaving them to die at the bottom of the sea, eaten alive, as they can no longer swim, to serving live animals at restaurants as …delicacies [really?!!!!!!], to… you name it!
Zoos… way before becoming vegan, as a child I felt sad about animals in captivity, the purpose of which to this day eludes me. While in college I had the opportunity of expressing that feeling in a design project with London Zoo as a theme. This was the poster I designed in 1988, with humans, instead of animals, in cages.
Fish… eventhough I stopped eating meat easily, with fish it took some time. Why? 2 reasons. First one is I shamefully admit, didn’t ‘feel’ for them. I thought that since they were ‘plenty’ it was ok, but IT’S NOT, of course!!!! My wakeup call, believe it or not, was a piece of …”art” [not what I would call it!] titled “Τhe Harpooned Fish” by Kostas Tsoclis [I will not show it here] where the artist harpooned with an iron spear a live fish on canvas and let viewers watch it die slowly. Whatever the concept behind that, I bet he wouldn’t feel comfortable with him being part of a live painting, speared on canvas. So, that was my wake up call with poor fish! Now second reason was …mom! Yes, well, over here [Greece that is] families are bonded to life and ‘moms’ are like… bosses! 😉 Family pretty much accepted me not eating meat – even dairy* [as it turned out to be bad for my health!] but …fish?!!!! No way! So here comes the first “BUT” of the title. Once in [many days – like 2+ months] I might eat …fish. Yes, my vegan friends, don’t be shocked, in order to keep the peace and although with every bite I see images of a fish being squashed under tons of other fish and then being gutted alive, I will eat it. Good news is that they’re beginning to understand how uncomfortable I feel with every bite and this ‘tradition’ is gradually dying out.
Second “BUT” is about clothes. I was not always vegan and eventhough for the past 15+ years I buy only vegan clothes / shoes / accessories etc, my wardrobe still has leather shoes [..that fit], so, if needed, I will wear them and not throw them away.
Third “BUT”, I am not an activist. No more than being true to my beliefs. I will not try to convince anyone to go vegan, nor will I undermine anyone for not being one. However, if I become aware of any cruel acts on animals, I will report it to the authorities and yes, I’m all for an animal protection police! Although I will not try to convince someone to change, I believe people ought to be aware of what they’re eating, how the food ends up on their plate and every single act of cruelty against animals. You see, like me some 20+ years ago, most people are not aware… so fine, you chose to eat meat, know what the animals go through before getting slaughtered in order for you to enjoy a “juicy steak”. You chose to wear fur and leather, check out seal hunting or the electrocution of a fox first. Dairy? Well, that’s one cruel industry that I refused to believe when I first saw! List is long, but really, unless someone willingly becomes aware, there’s no point in trying to convince them. Hence, I will not go out dressed as a chicken covered in blood or other such grotesque [to me] acts. Do your own research. So important nowadays, in almost everything!
Fourth “BUT”, as I said I am not an activist, so, I don’t like labeled gatherings. For all the reasons I mention on 3rd “BUT”, plus I don’t trust crowds, I will not participate in marches, protests etc. I do my personal protest by being informed, staying true to my ideals and first and foremost [hence last] respect all living beings.
There’s an inspirational speech by Philip Wollen for anyone who wishes to listen here
Reason why I write this is that I’m starting to feel a weird tendency for ‘action’ nowadays and marginalization of reason. Everything is about labels and if one doesn’t fit under that label then they’re rejects! No, my friends. Life is not black and white. Life is a process -preferably towards betterment. No labels attached!
To me the word vegan means respect for life. The life of beings which can’t speak for themselves. Not a trend and not a movement… kindness: definitely.
Thank you all who reached to the end of this oddly long [for me!] text.
May you all enjoy happy days.
Of course this text wouldn’t be complete without the presence of Hera …the PITBULL!!!!! 😉