Before I start converting your favorite Pinterest recipes into the vegan version, I’ll explain the events that lead up to me starting my vegan lifestyle.
Almost 8 years ago, I had a friend that was vegan. At first, I was very curious as to what vegans eat. Growing up in Idaho, being near a vegetarian or vegan was a rare occurrence. I asked many questions about their eating habits, just trying to get a sense for how they survive. I’m a very picky eater so I was positive I’d never be able to go vegetarian, even if I wanted to….but trust me, at the time, I did not want to.
I found my curiosity dissolved into feeling annoyed by this person’s diet. At the time I was very religious (now I’d say I’m more spiritual than religious). I was thinking, “God gave us dominion over the animals so we can eat them if we want, this person is crazy for not doing this. Don’t they get it?”. Their diet really challenged my beliefs, it made me frustrated and angry. I felt like such a small person that someone’s diet, a diet they’re choosing and not pushing on me at all, would make me feel so many unwanted feelings.
I talked with my friend about why they felt going vegan was best for them. How could they choose this? Why couldn’t they be like everyone else? Hoping I could finally use their reasoning to justify why this is not right for me and put this issue to rest. Instead, their answer was not something I could hide behind, it was not something I could ignore and move on. They started telling me what really happens at slaughter houses, what the animals endure, how they hurt. I went home and googled all this information to make sure I wasn’t being told exaggerations, it seemed very far fetched anyone could treat animals this way and not be arrested. However, the information I read and the photos I saw brought me into hysterical tears. Growing up in Idaho, I saw cows wandering fields, I had no idea how factory farms really treat their animals. They hide it so well.
At that point, I started feeling guilty. Every time I ate, I knew I was supporting animal abuse, but I didn’t know how to stop. I didn’t know how to eat. I tried so hard to just push this out of my mind and keep on doing what I had been doing. Trying to justify to myself how this isn’t a big deal, everyone supports this industry, it’s just life. It plagued me for weeks, every time I ate. I kept reminding myself I’m just one person, if I stop eating meat how will that help? It’s not going to change anything, the factory farms will keep on doing what they’re doing. I can’t save veal calves and dairy cows by not eating dairy. I can’t save chickens by not eating eggs. I can’t change the supply and demand by only me not eating meat.
After about a month of these thoughts that plagued me, a life changing event occurred. I was in my car in Meridian, Idaho. It was a beautiful day, I had my windows down and my sunroof open. I sat at a stop light on Eagle Rd. A semi-truck pulls up next to me, in the truck they have about 10 cows, I know the slaughterhouse they’re headed to. It’s a hot day and I know they’re miserable in that truck being hauled to their death. I tried so hard not to look over, but I felt like someone was staring at me, you know that feeling, you try to ignore it but you have to look over. I looked over and there was this cow staring at me so intently. Looking at me with these beautiful big eyes. I just felt like she was begging to be rescued, begging to be helped. You could see the look of desperation, you could see the misery and terror she felt, on her face. It sounds crazy, but in that moment it was like I could feel her feelings wash over me–the sadness, the uncertainty of her fate. I started crying and vowed that day that I’d never be responsible for taking an innocent life. That beautiful cow was no different than me and that day I saw it. I felt it. I felt her desire to live, her desire to be free and not to be a prisoner. She was not a meal but a living creature. From that day forward I am happy to say I’ve never eaten another animal. I used to be tempted the first year I went vegan, but I’d think of her and that look. After that day, I quit thinking dominion over animals meant exploiting them and hurting them and realized dominion means protecting and loving them. I value their lives and now every year, I save 95 lives by not eating meat. She changed my life that day, for the better, and I’m forever grateful.