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Veganism for me

I wanted to talk about something that I am very passionate about, and that for me is veganism. I think we are now in a culture where the concept of being vegan is more accepted, however,  there is still some controversy around the topic. Many still ask the same question: ‘so what do you eat if your vegan?’, and I can assure you the answer is not simply leaves. Veganism for me is something much more than what you do or do not eat. It is a lifestyle choice; an autonomous decision to abstain from using or consuming anything that is associated with an animal. I truly do not think there is another way to sustain the world unless we start to refrain from using animal products.

My journey towards veganism begun when I was 12 where I decided I wanted to become a vegetarian. In January of 2013, many supermarkets were exposed to what was the horsemeat scandal, where it had been found that horse DNA had been discovered in supposed ‘beef burgers’. At the innocent age of 12, I could not imagine consuming a horse and so, with the encouragement of my close friend, I decided to try initially going pescatarian. The first few days were hard since I had to remind myself that no, Bolognese was not vegetarian, but after a while, it became incredibly easy. I can confidently admit that I have never been the biggest “meat lover” in my life at any point; I would always moan when I knew chicken was on the menu. Thus, for me, I did not have to remove very much out of my diet. It is also notable that my Grandma and Aunty are vegetarian and my Mum was when she was a teenager, therefore, the concept was certainly not alien to our family. Of course, there were days where I would get cravings for meat, but after a few months of the transition, I was disgusted altogether by the prospect of it.

For quite some time I was a pescatarian, however, that too was not enough for me. In 2015 I was admitted to hospital and it was promised to me that if I could try and fight it I could get a goldfish. It then hit me: how on earth could I buy a goldfish in which I would love and nurture yet be eating their species? The two seem completely contradictory to me and so in the June of 2015, I decided to become a full veggie. This decision was again relatively easy as I did not love the taste of fish - actually just writing the “taste” of it kind of freaks me out now as I could never imagine eating one. I now have my Oranda Sebastian who I love very much. Unfortunately, I did lose his friends Flounder, Melody and Bubbles L but nevertheless, they will not be forgotten.

However, I would say it has been in the last year and a bit the idea of veganism has really been brought to my attention. We are seeing an increasing trend in “clean eating” and I think many have considered veganism as a form of this. But I want to make it extremely clear that I do not think the two fall in the same category. Veganism is an ethos that rejects the commodity status of animals, not a 5:2 diet. It frustrates me that people use veganism as a way to restrict because this simply undermines what the philosophy stands for.

I must warn that the next section of this post might upset you. So, if you do not want to know about what goes on in the dairy and egg industry, I would recommend you stop reading. I am grateful for the media promoting veganism since it made me look into what it was a lot further. At first, I had a very narrow view of being vegan, by thinking “those people must be so strict”. But when I informed myself of the horrors of the dairy and egg industry, I was absolutely horrified. I could not and still cannot to this day understand how they have been able to get away with what they do. How on earth did it ever become acceptable to impregnate cows and tear them away from their calves? That’s right…The “skinny milk” in your latte comes from a cow who has been impregnated with artificial insemination which causes them to involuntarily produce milk. Cows are then hooked up like a patient to an IV drip, to milking machines multiple times a day which has toxic effects on their health. Cows may also be medicated with recombinant bovine growth hormone so that they can produce more milk at the cost of an increased risk of getting mastitis which is known to KILL cows. Most cows should live around 20 years but because of this barbaric treatment, they are now living at least 5 years less as their bodies essentially give up. This leftover carcass is then turned into a soup such as “bone broth” or ground beef.

You are probably by now wondering that if this is the treatment of female cows, what about the males? Male calves are typically separated from their mothers to be slaughtered. Many are shipped off in devastating conditions where they can barely move; making them more “tender” for slaughter. These poor calves only see the light for a few months before they are sold for their flesh. You would never, ever wish these sickening conditions on your pet dog or cat, so why is it any different for cows? Why do we have the right to cause this inane torture on an animal? Surely the answer is that we do not.

As for the egg industry, it does not get much better. Hens have their beaks sliced off with a burning hot blade just after hours of birth. They do not get any anaesthetic or painkillers like we would in an operation: they have to suffer. It then makes it incredibly hard for them to eat after they have had their beaks mutilated and so many hens naturally die from extreme hunger and dehydration. Then the hens that do survive are shoved into battery cages where they can barely breathe, let alone move. The battery cages typically measure 18 by 24 inches which according to the egg industry – is ok for 10 hens who have a wingspan each of up to 36 inches! These hens are squished so closely together that they have no choice but to urinate and defecate on each other. Many of these birds consequently die from the stench of ammonia meaning that the surviving birds are forced to live with their dying cage mates. After two years of this torture, the hen’s bodies are exhausted and so their egg production drastically drops, thus their flesh is instead sold to produce animal food. Then as for the male chicks: they are worthless to the egg industry. So instead they are blended alive by high-speed grinders. That’s right – male chicks are shoved like your kale in your nutri-bullet ALIVE. It horrifies me.

I know that these facts are distressing and horrifying to read, but we need to be aware of what is going on behind the scenes. I am not saying that everyone NEEDS to go vegan, but even just making one small change such as switching your skinny latte to a soya latte would make a difference. The less we buy into the industry, the more likely these animals will have a chance. I truly hope this gives you an insight into my own beliefs and you understand why I live the way I do.

Lots of love,
Is xxx

Here are some of the sources I used:

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