Living in a state of denial and blind to the exploitation and atrocities of the outside world, I grew up calling myself an “animal lover.” But why then, did I eat animals? It’s odd reflecting on my past non-vegan persona and my newfound joyful vegan identity. My non-vegan persona knew of the horror and of the pain which animals endured, but hid from reality, hoping to escape the guilt which stems from consuming once-living creatures.
The main staple of any of my meals was chicken, fish, or meat. I never questioned or wondered why; I never refused to eat; it was simply ingrained in my mind that my body needed protein and that animals provided the best protein for my body. It took me a long time to realize, to learn, and to transform. However, after becoming a more health-conscience and thoughtful, observant individual, I thought about my diet, researched, and finally faced my fears. I experienced the heartache of knowing how all animals endure such hardships and grief and then I knew that I could no longer allow myself to contribute to the suffering of animals.
At first I went “vegetarian”, but ironically still ate fish. After having another rude awakening, I truly became a vegetarian and then slowly transitioned to vegan. I thought it would be difficult, but it wasn’t. I was so pleased and so happy to feel like I could make a difference and use my own voice to speak for the animals that I was willing to sacrifice the food. Now, I don’t even describe it as sacrifice.
As a vegan, the palate (and more importantly the mind) is cleansed; there is a plethora of healthy, vibrant, nutritious and wonderfully delicious foods to choose from, a diet much more fulfilling than my non-vegan diet ever was. I look forward to cooking such beautiful, tasty food with a smile on my face. And even though the suffering still exists, and even though at times I find it extremely difficult and sad to face the other blind people of the world or continually witness the injustice which exists on Earth, I smile because I am no longer blind. I can see clearly. With no fog clouding my vision, I can attempt to alter the injustice and I am able to pour my heart out to the animals; I use my voice for the animals. I can now sincerely and honestly call myself an “animal lover.”
~Samantha, high school student in southern California