Nearly three years ago, I made a conscious decision to commit life-long as a vegan. I’ve never shared the mindset that animals are inferior to humans, especially in order to justify how they are treated in factory farms; yet it took a year of constant pondering before I fully transitioned into a 100% vegan lifestyle. It was purely for superficial and selfish reasons – I wanted to make sure I could sustain it while still living my comfortable, present life. This meant throwing away all the leather shoes that I had carefully collected throughout the years, giving up weekly frozen yogurt indulgences, and checking every label from the tags on my clothes to the ingredients in my make up, down to household products. We all have our faults. (And yup, we exploit animals that much.) Also, it had been years since I had seen footage of animal cruelty in factory farms; essentially I became so removed from it.

At 15 years old, I watched a PETA clip of the terrifying and absolute grotesqueness that occurs rampantly in factory farms – it was undercover footage at KFC, and that shit was brutal. I went vegetarian the next day, and pledged never to eat meat again. I was selfless and ambitious in that I wanted to make a change within myself and these animal’s lives. It didn’t feel right that they were going through that much suffering at the cost of indulging in a meal. I got so much shit for going vegetarian from family members, friends, and even strangers. Although it was a personal choice of mine, people projected their views on to me as if it was their own life I was threatening. According to them, I was going to get a disease or I was going to starve to death because humans are meant to eat meat. On the contrary, humans are facultative omnivores as our guts are able to digest the meat, however we are obligate herbivores as our bodies are designed to help us survive entirely off a plant based diet. As humans adapted to a diet suited to ingesting cooked animal flesh, we created businesses to provide us this luxury, however in turn thousands of animal’s lives are put through pain and torture, every second of every day. Meat and dairy industries spend on average 500 billion dollars yearly in advertisements to convince you. They do so in order to keep their businesses alive, and it has trickled into what is the societal norm for what has become our mindless eating habits. That is the power of advertising my friends, and we are all victims. They tell us that we are “supposed” to eat meat, as raw flesh is stacked endlessly on grocery store shelves. If it is so normal to slaughter for food, why are so many people unaware of what actually goes on behind closed doors? Why is it that the meat and dairy industries refuse to be transparent about the way the animals are treated within their facilities, so much that people have to sneak undercover footage to reveal the haunting and terrifying massacre that goes on? We don’t recognize that the steak on our dinner plate was a living, breathing, and sentient being, because if we did that would make us monsters. We are desensitized. Euphemisms are used to describe their flesh, such as pork and beef, but you’re still eating a tortured and slaughtered animal who was never been given a proper chance to live freely.

People make so many excuses to continue eating meat and wearing leather. “We require meat for survival” is the oldest excuse in the book. When there is an abundance of fruit and vegetables, and a large numerical difference of plant-based foods in comparison to farmed animals for meat, how would our chance of survival become critical by going vegan? When a major factor of environmental damage and climate change is due to animal agriculture, what becomes the real threat of our survival? I continued wearing leather because I told myself it was just a byproduct of the meat industry, and it would go to waste otherwise. I now understand that whatever part of the animal I take for my own pleasure, I am contributing to the innocent animal’s disgusting demise. This realization and lifestyle change made me dedicate a chunk of my blog to cruelty-free fashion. I have always been a supporter of fur-less fashion since I was very very young. With this mindset and by putting in a small effort to understand the aspects of all the animal byproducts we wear, it was so clear to me why if you’re fur-free, you should be wearing 100% animal-free. I learned that wool isn’t just harmoniously shaved off the animal, that a down comforter is full of feathers plucked straight from birds, and that leather is an industry in itself. All of this made me realize how wrong and twisted everything is; we are so brainwashed into thinking this shit is just OK to do. It is against the law to lay a hand on a dog, but WHY is a cow any different? Because someone told you so? Cows have the capacity to give you just as much love as the dog you live at home with. It did not make sense that I was discriminating against other animals; I was undermining their pain by only recognizing those who society has normalized to love. Just because it isn’t spelt out for us and more visible, does not make it right. Fur is most apparent as what it is, not only because the product is in it’s whole and creepy form, but that it is an “exotic” fashion; fur is exclusive and it’s for the “rich”. Therefore the lot of us see it for what it is because it’s not advertised for and inclusive of all of us. We are talking about what everyone else is saying, instead of paying attention to what is morally just. I refuse to live simply according to what the majority follows just because it would make my life “easier”. If my life is a little more difficult because of it, so be it. I will not stand by in ignorance. I will live in awareness of myself and my surroundings, listening to what my gut tells me because all the shit people do to animals is so, so wrong. Along with being fur-free, I am wool-free, leather-free, and all animal by-product free. Being vegan means that we live ethically, consciously, and compassionately everyday for the animals and this planet.

Compassion and empathy comes to us at a young age. The other day, I saw a little girl and boy playing together by a pond surrounded by ducks, and become enthused by the sight of them. Their eyes sparkled and they clapped their hands in excitement; you could see how much just seeing and being around these animals filled them with so much joy. This made me think about what our society has led us to think versus our natural instinct as humans. When you take your children to farms to see pigs, cows, and chickens, their first instinct is never salivation at the sight of them. As humans we are naturally empathetic towards animals, because like pigs and cows, we are mammals too. As humans, we have the emotional and intellectual capacity that goes beyond any being here on Earth, so we need to decide what is the best way to put forth our energy for truly prosperous living. Please take a moment to re-evaluate and reconsider your daily choices as they have a massive impact on the world around you. People tell you to live everyday and in the moment, but also keep in mind that all of these choices are leading up to your future.

Educate yourself (Documentaries to watch):

  • Earthlings
  • Racing Extinction
  • Blackfish
  • Vegucated
  • Forks Over Knives
  • Cowspiracy

X,

Joan