Although always known as an animal lover, it took 19 years of life before the ‘lightbulb’ moment when I connected my actions to the cosequences for animals. From that time it took years to transition to veganism on my 25th birthday – hands down the best decision of my life.
As a kid we always had guinea pigs and rabbits and the memory of being distraught at seeing our white rabbit, Buck Rogers, dead as a result of an animal predator is fresh in my memory. Another deep love was formed for my nan’s cocker spaniel Sophie, who (I’m ashamed to admit) I used to dress up and put in my doll’s pram. To be fair, she did used to fall asleep in there so I’m not sure she was too distressed, but it’s not something I’d advocate anymore! The first time she set eyes on me she jumped up on my lap and I instantly connected with the love and loyalty of this sweet little lady.
Finding old school projects, I was amazed to see that, as a young girl I’d made a campaign poster – “Don’t buy products tested on animals”. Somehow I’d known about animal suffering without ever truly realising my connection to it. All the while I was merrily eating burgers, chicken, mince and I even had a Wimpy burger party where I got a tour around the kitchen!
But something must have been in the back of my mind – I saw the veins and ligaments in chicken lgs and wings and would whine at my mum that I didn’t want to eat it. Mum had to pick the meat out of my chilli beef and vegetables because I didn’t like the gristle and fat running through the chunks of flesh. At 13 I tried being vegetarian for a week, but thought it was too difficult to make my mum prepare meatless meals.
After going to university and seeing pigs on a small scale factory farm, I was finally confronted with the inescapable truth of how animals live to end up on my plate. My journey had begun.
Slowly, over the course of six years, it became apparent that there was no other way to live. As much of a cheese lover as I was, knowing that a mummy cow had to be separated from her tiny baby and that baby killed or sent away to become veal, so that I could shove a bit of cheddar on my pasta, was something I could no longer accept. I saw videos of boy chicks being killed, thousands at a time, and learned that chickens are dispose of once their egg productivity becomes unprofitable, even on free range farms.The knowledge made omelettes unpalatable.
And in fact, you don’t need to be an “animal lover” to make this connection. No one wants to be the cause of harm and suffering to any beings, but that is precisely what consuming animal products does – it supports industries for whom the animals are units to be dismantled for sale. In a world entirely geared towards using animals for our own purpose, it can be difficult to recognise that, to the animal, it’s their life, and it literally means everything.
BUT, becoming vegan is exciting and liberating, most often creating a passion for food which didn’t exist before. Was I always greedy? Certainly. But I didn’t have the enthusiasm about trying different foods and creating my own dishes like I do now. And I don’t spend hours in the kitchen – I don’t have time. But even simple and quick creations are a joy to prepare. One thing is for sure -when it comes to delicious food, being vegan does not mean missing out, as my gob can testify!
The same goes for cooking for family and friends. Being able to demonstrate how amazing food is without including our animal friends can be a source of inspiration to others. My mum is now one of the best vegan cooks I know – she just needed a few pointers from her daughter!
So my birthday is not only a celebration of my life, but also a celebration that every decision I make means choosing animal life over death. And it’s the most awesome decision any one person can make.