Before I was vegan, the word ‘humane’ used to enter my thoughts several times a day. When buying ‘food’, clothing, toiletries, household materials, everything, I was concerned to ensure that I was making ‘ethical’ choices, ‘humane’ choices. Oh, how principled I imagined myself to be! Everyone I knew used to roll their eyes at me when I recounted the lengths I had gone to, the ‘organic’, ‘free-range’, ‘cage-free’, ‘not-tested-on-animals’, the welfare-approved, ‘lived-a-happy-life-in-the-sunshine’ efforts that took up my time and concern as a consumer.
Then one day it happened. The truth finally hit me like a sledge hammer.
I can’t remember exactly how it came about, but that knowledge still sits in my core like a stone. I opened my eyes to the truth about dairy products; the reality of motherhood violated, manipulated and enslaved; the anguish and the desolation of innocent and gentle, mothering creatures, the sobs and despair of the babies they love as much as I do my own. And for what? For nothing other than human indulgence. What was the word, the image that broke through my self-congratulatory shell? I don’t know exactly, but it started a landslide that continues to this day.
In speechless horror I looked round at my foolishness, suddenly considering eggs and chickens, lambs and wool, piglets and calves and turkeys, the torture and the gore, the terror and the stench; devouring Google, suddenly humbled, stunned and tearful, scarcely able to believe how I could ever have been so blind, cringing in the harsh spotlight of my participation in the greatest horrors ever devised by a species.
When we stand in that spotlight there is no place to hide; when we realise that there is no decent way to exploit a fellow sentient individual for our own selfishness, we have really no choice. I became vegan and I will be vegan until the day I die.
And so now I begin my days on the other side of the veganism border. I no longer have the ‘humane’ internal dialogue, because now, at last, I truly respect all other beings as fellow travellers on our world, here for their own reasons, to fulfil their own purpose. Whilst in one way I now know an inner peace that I could never before have imagined, I now side with the persecuted and start every day thinking of the terrified and helpless individuals who are relying on me to tell others of their needless torment; seeing in my mind’s eye the beseeching gazes of those who are depending on me to speak out for justice for them so that the nightmare will someday end.
Most days, there are a few tears. However now I firmly believe that only veganism can prevent our species from plunging headlong to its own destruction, taking with it the planet that we all call home.
Despite the peril we face as a species, it is encouraging to live in hope, in a world where I am part of the miracle of nature, rather than part of a mainstream humanity that has long ago forgotten the meaning of the word ‘humane’.
Cross the border and be vegan.