I was raised in a meat-eating household, and vegetarians were viewed as an exotic myth to scare children away from their steaks. I did not come across the word “vegan” until I was an adult. While I do not remember the exact moment, I am sure that I just decided at the age of 20 or so that eating flesh caused needless suffering to beings with central nervous systems capable of experiencing pain and fear.
I was an ovo-lacto vegetarian for years, and I would rationalize that eggs and dairy products did not cause the same suffering as meat consumption. That bit of self-deception eventually crumbled under the weight of evidence and I was left with the only ethically consistent course that a thinking person could follow; I became a vegan.
I am a physician with the Canadian military, so you can imagine that I have plenty of opportunities to defend my position against vigorous debate. Most people are just genuinely curious and want to hear my position, but a few are hostile and confrontational. No omnivore has yet offered a logical rebuttal to my position. (There have, however, been a surplus of illogical and often bizzare rebuttals — and yet I love them and live amongst them.)
Being a vegan in a non-vegan world is an odd experience. I am always a little frustrated when I see otherwise kind and intelligent people using, or extolling the virtues of, animal products. By any other measure my friends and colleagues are good people who do not see themselves as a cause of suffering. There is a kind of willing ignorance or self-delusion about it that baffles me even though I was guilty of the same thing for a large part of my life.
Animal products are so ubiquitous that I often have the feeling that I am not a part of the society in which I live. It is like those horror movies where the main character knows the monster is real but no one is willing to listen (think “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”…). My wife is reading this over my shoulder and has told me to lighten up — she reminds me that we just had an awesome vegan meal (courtesy of her) and that if I pull myself out of this morose reflection I may get some cupcakes as a reward. So there you have it; the many faces of veganism! 🙂
~Pete in Petawawa Ontario, Canada