(I was approached by some people at my school earlier this year to talk about my vegan lifestyle. I never ended up doing it but instead wanted to share it with vaein as part of the theme of “emerging.”)
When I went vegetarian at the start of January 2011, I was still very uneducated when it came to the ethics of animal cruelty. Something happened that made me aware that animals died, however, and it was enough for me to finally make the change. It was something i had always thought about and I guess I became more curious as time passed until I came across a documentary (that I strongly recommend everyone watches) called Earthlings. Earthlings shows you inside the slaughter houses where animals are killed, as well as many other situations involving meat production, and that’s when it finally occurred to me: the meat industry is a lie. When we’re small they show us pretty pictures of farms where the cows are hand milked and then they die of old age and we eat them. It seems like this was the image shared by many people and not many people ever stop to question it. I felt like my mind was opened to all these truths that I didn’t see before. It was terrible to know that things I had consumed and things that everyone around me consumes are products of murder and torture. I realised that there was blood on my hands. I was contributing to this unspeakable act of murder and cruelty. That’s when I decided to go vegan.
Since then I have read news articles, blog entries, and entire novels about animal cruelty. Over time I have encouraged five of my close friends to go vegan, including my older brother Travis, and I have become a bit of a humanitarian. I’ve learned so much about animals that blatantly show that there is no reason to exploit them. Even animals like fish have very complex nervous systems (which makes them feel pain to a higher extent than humans). They have ancestral mating grounds and can recognise other fish individually. They know who is to be trusted and who isn’t. It’s astounding how little we underestimate the intelligence of a type of animal that is often seen as a mindless, alien, insect-like kind of creature. I think this particular fact has always stayed with me since reading the book Eating Animals by Jonothan Safran Foer because it was completely unexpected. Human beings always seem to think that because we are the most intelligent and technologically advanced we must have certain instinctual traits that other beings do not. It often comes as a surprise when you hear something about an animal that makes you realise it is living, breathing, and thinking. Animals, just like humans, form attachments. They have best friends, families, and enemies. They feel pain, sadness, happiness, and know the difference between kindness and cruelty. So I have vowed to always contribute to kindness and never to cruelty. I don’t think that taste and tradition should be more important than compassion.
I can wholeheartedly say that if I never went vegan, I wouldn’t be confident to stand here and talk in front of all of you. I would never have been able to re-enter high school to finish year twelve. It has helped both my mental and physical health. Why? Because standing for something that means so much to so many people has made me feel like I was actually worth something and had something to live for….which isn’t something I had felt for a long time. I have made friends through veganism that I plan to keep for the rest of my life and it’s just so empowering to know that I have bettered myself as a person and through that I am helping better the entire world. Veganism isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle, a movement even, and I think someday it will change the way we all live.
I’d like to end my speech with a quote that, I think, is pretty relevant to the eating animals debate. It comes from the book I mentioned earlier, Eating Animals, where Jonothan says “Humans are the only animals that have children on purpose, keep in touch (or don’t), care about birthdays, waste and lose time, brush their teeth, feel nostalgia, scrub stains, have religions and political parties and laws, wear keepsakes, apologize years after an offense, whisper, fear themselves, interpret dreams, hide their genitalia, shave, bury time capsules, and can choose not to eat something for reasons of conscience. The justifications for eating animals and for not eating them are often identical: we are not them.”
Hairdresser by day, qualified procrastinator by night- that’s pretty much the epitome of 20 year old Debbie. She claims that her life is one giant FLCL episode but whether that’s true or not is a totally different story. Her dream is to work from home, living off of funds earned by drawing commissions, in between sleeping and cutting someone’s hair for even more cash money.
When Debbie is not being succumbed by procrastination, she is usually off in a world ruled by 16 bit gaming and everything Nintendo related. In reality, her life revolves around working in a salon and coming home to cuddling her cat amidst her vast collection of stuffed toys and cushions. She’s also vegan, and loves to bake unhealthy amounts banana cake instead of cooking anything remotely nutritious.
Offer her vegan treats, cakes, anything with high sugar content, or chocolate soy milk and she’ll be swooning all over you- to learn more ways to seduce this pint-sized powerhouse, refer to her twitter.
Patrick Mars is 18, and like many other Tumblr boys, has a strong affinity with hardcore and those of the feline disposition. A distinct advocate of the 5108, Patrick is currently redoing Year 12 after dropping out of school saw his life spiral downward into an non-eventuating slump. A predominant aspect of his lifestyle is his veganism, and though he is only six months into this particular way of living, it helps in highlighting how strongly he feels regarding contemporary issues of ethics, while painting somewhat of a picture in relation to his character.
Patrick’s interests are vested in films and everything that goes into making them, and this will be nonetheless evident in the enthusiasm his articles for the zine strive to deliver. He also hopes to focus on his other areas of expertise, such as politics, music, television, and, undoubtedly at one point or another, something controversial about eating meat. Between patting his cat to breakdowns and doing school work, Patrick also enjoys being perpetually bankrupt.
Many more of his exploits can be accessed through his personal blog: http://pattykitt3n.tumblr.com/