As long as I can remember, I’ve eaten meat. From steak to sausages and fast food burgers, meat was an integral part of my life as a child, teenager and young adult who was never a big fan of vegetables.
Moreover, I’ve always lived in the city so while a huge animal lover since my early childhood, I had never made the connection between this cute cow I was seeing during the summer holidays in the french countryside and the steak in my plate, nor between this baby rabbit I held in my hand during school field trips and the meal I was ordering in restaurants at night.
At the same time, I was totally appalled by animal cruelty on cats and dogs and went to Thailand to volunteer the year of my 18th birthday with animals rescued from the illegal wildlife trade or used as tourists entertainment. All of this while still eating meat. Talk about cognitive dissonance here !
So what changed? Well, I first considered vegetarianism and later veganism under the lens of the meat industry’s environmental impacts. As someone who is deeply affected by the impacts of human activity on the planet, I decided to pursue my Masters degree in Environmental Science and Management. The program included classes on agriculture, climate change and other multidisciplinary subjects but the connection between the meat industry and climate change was never clearly pointed out. Nevertheless, there were hints here and there on the deforestation happening in the Amazon to make room for soy fields to feed the animals we’re then eating or on the over fishing that is emptying our oceans each day.
Those newly discovered environmental impacts led me to going vegetarian with sometimes a small deviation for a sushi night or an oven made salmon with the family. Because « you have to keep on living » you know and otherwise « you can’t eat anything anymore ».
And I was fine like that until I watched Cowspiracy.
This extremely well done documentary highlights exactly the contribution of animal farming on the environment such as the fact that it is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation (FAO) or that animal agriculture uses 20-33% of all fresh water consumption in the world today and finally that livestock covers 45% of the Earth total land. That’s when I went vegan, about a year and a half ago. I couldn't keep on supporting an industry that literally consumes all of our natural resources at an alarming rate while participating in starving millions of people around the world. NO FUCKING WAY.
And then came the ethics. In France, an amazing NGO called L214 started releasing at the exact same time videos of slaughterhouses to national media, causing a the animal cause to finally become part of the public debate. The videos are just so terrible that they’re almost impossible to watch, yet they are necessary to show consumers where the products they’re eating truly come from. Bye bye dreams of green fields and free range cows, hello overcrowded filthy warehouses and forced insemination. That is what the meat, fish, egg and dairy industries look like. To me, and I hope for any human being, there’s just no way of not feeling deeply shocked and touched in our humanity by these images and these facts about the daily exploitation of sentient beings with whom we share feelings like hope, love, fear and moreover the fundamental will to live. Only for human's consumption, pleasure or entertainment.
I’m not a perfect vegan. While traveling, I sometimes eat cheese if there really isn’t anything else to eat or if my refusal might offense my host. I do my best but sometimes I miss the small line that says « might contain eggs or milk » on products at the supermarket.
But this is where I am now. Trying to live a conscious and emphatic lifestyle that respects other living beings that share this wonderful earth with us. To live everyday without harming any conscious souls for my own entertainment or pleasure. And now, I’m trying to spread the message,because hurting animals when we could perfectly not to and still have a perfectly enjoyable life is simply wrong, on every level, and it just has to stop. I’m full of hope for the future when I see how veganism is spreading and becoming more and more mainstream. But there’s still so much to do so if you’re still reading, why don’t you try veganism? Get out here, find out about what you’re eating, get educated and if you feel like it, give it a try ? For the animals, the planet, your health and basically everything else.
Thanks for reading,
Happy World Vegan Day,