I’m Mary and I recently decided to stop eating animal products including meat, dairy, eggs and honey in pursuit of a cruelty free life. This wasn’t a decision I made lightly, it wasn’t on a whim, and it is something that I firmly know that I will never go back on.
When I was 14/15 years old I became a vegetarian. This lasted for around 2 years. I still remember to this day walking into McDonalds and eating a McChicken sandwich and, despite being thoroughly disappointed in its taste and texture, I continued to eat it. From that first bite, I regressed and became a meat eater once more.
The reason I failed was because, as a young and picky teenager, I disliked pretty much all vegetables. If it wasn’t a potato, I wasn’t interested. This resulted in some very questionable dietary choices. I didn’t eat meat but I also didn’t eat meat substitutes like tofu or quorn (maybe once or twice on occasion), vegetables, nuts or beans and lentils. I lived almost entirely off junk food, pasta and noodles. Which, obviously nobody can live on without feeling incredibly tired, lethargic and sick. I wasn’t getting enough nutrients at all and I also put on a lot of weight because of my bad choices. Instead of addressing the reasons why I felt the way I did, I blamed it on my lack of meat consumption.
Now, almost ten years later, I have not only turned my back on eating meat, I’ve also cut out all animal products entirely. It may seem a bit extreme for someone who gave up the first time, but I’m different now. I’ve educated myself now. Years ago I just gave up meat because I didn’t like the idea of eating innocent animals. Now I know that it isn’t just animal welfare that motivates me, it’s also human health and the environment as well.
A month ago I watched Cowspiracy, a popular documentary on the impact that animal agriculture has on the world’s environment. It was shocking. There was so much incredible information in the documentary that I found astounding. This lead me to research the dairy and meat industry and find out as much information as I could.
Needless to say, I’ve never gone back. I decided to try a vegan diet for a month as I researched, thinking it would be an excellent personal challenge as well as a possible full-time lifestyle choice I would make. I had my vegetarian failure in the back of my head as I looked into this and I didn’t want to jump up and say I was a vegan in case I failed again. It’s silly, but I’m very fickle at times and I didn’t want to announce my commitment to something and then give it up.
I hadn’t even gotten halfway into the month when I decided that this was not just a challenge, it wasn’t just a part-time thing or something that I would give up; this was for life. It had to be for life. What right did I have to go back to eating animal products knowing what I knew? Knowing about the torture and the suffering and the murder of sentient beings and then sitting down to eat their dead carcass? Just the thought of it turned my stomach, and still does when I look at what my friends and family are happily eating.
Thankfully I have an incredibly supportive family and boyfriend so the transition was not a difficult one in that regard. In fact, in general, the transition has been easy. I don’t miss milk, which I would’ve drank in litres before. I don’t miss steak, which was a weekly Sunday ritual for my family. I don’t miss milk chocolate, which my enthusiasm for lead to high cholesterol.
I am so much healthier now that I have chosen a cruelty free life. I never used to get my 5 a day; an apple or an orange with some potatoes with dinner would have been the height of my fruit and veg consumption. Now I regularly get 5-7 a day with ease because most of my meals contain vegetables or fruit. It’s easy, it’s not a struggle. And I feel healthier and happier than I have in a long time.
Chocolate was and still is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but I don’t lust after Cadburys or Milka because I’ve found fantastic alternatives. The Celtic chocolate brand based in Co. Meath in Ireland is my favourite; they create absolutely divine treats, including the Choices caramel truffles and orange chocolate bar that I hoard in my treats drawer.
The fact is that this is the best time in history to be a vegan. There is a cruelty free alternative to any food you could possibly desire. No, occasionally they don’t taste exactly right or just like your mammy made when you were a kid, but I for one am fine with that because I know that no innocent animal died for my pleasure. No baby calf was ripped from his mother to end up as veal on my plate. No chicken got their beak lasered off or their wings clipped and no fish was gutted for my taste buds.
There are some incredible YouTube videos out there showing the reality of the meat and dairy industry. It’s not a pleasant sight, but it shouldn’t be. I would encourage anybody who loves animals to look at videos of what goes on in an abattoir, on a farm, in a milking parlour. See what animals go through for the desires of humans. You owe it to any pets you’ve had or animals you thought were ‘cute’, and you owe it to your personal health and the environment as well. Eat well. Live well. Be well.
Are you a vegan? Let me know about your journey in the comments!