Early in 2012 I started reaching out to vegan friends on twitter to ask them to share their testimonials. My hope was that by getting vegans to share their stories we could educate and inspire others and give people first hand accounts to replace perceptions or stereotypes. I’m incredibly grateful to those that have participated. Their stories speak for themselves! If you enjoy the series please let us know!
When I was 19 years old and in college, I picked up an animal rights magazine at my local environmental group, of which I was a part. That night, on the hard and uncomfortable cot that passed as a bed in my dorm room, tears and sobs flowed out of me as I read the wretched and twisted fate that beget pigs used for food production. The images and descriptions of beatings, draggings, torture and mutilations that occurred regularly to these intelligent and sweet creatures left me with the unflappable belief that I would never touch another meat product again. I wish I could say that I was so valiant in this difficult struggle, but it was easy. So easy. If I ever longed for a hamburger or steak again, it was very fleeting.
Just the thought of ingesting the sadness and pain that went into that meat turned my stomach sour. This is well over 20 years ago so there were no videos on the Internet to watch. It was still imagery and text and they affected me as if I was witnessing the abuse of pigs happening right in front of me. Very quickly after that, it was easy to give up chickens, turkeys and fish.
I kept eating milk and cheese products after that for years, but when a friend explained where rennet, used in the making of cheese, came from (the stomach lining of a cow), I dropped that immediately. That too was easy. I still ate baked goods and milk, but then I went to live with my sister and her friends in 1995 and they were all vegan. Within the hour of moving in with them, I was vegan too. Again, so easy.
Maybe I’m lucky. Becoming vegetarian and eventually vegan was not a strain for me. I can’t understand when people say they “could never go vegan” or it would be so hard. Maybe I’m different.
Then again, maybe not. I grew up in a large Italian family. We had meat on the table every night. We killed some of our own animals to eat them. When I first went vegetarian, I knew of no other vegetarian, famous or not, in the world. I was 19. None of my friends were vegetarian and the friends I had thought I was weird for being one. There were no animal rights groups at Syracuse where I went to school (though SUFAR popped up a couple years later). I had very little access to more information on the subject except for a couple of worn, used books. I had no support system. My family, though eventually all vegetarian, didn’t get it and I still had to witness dead turkeys on our table every Thanksgiving and Christmas when I returned home.
Maybe it is just easy for me to do because once I learned of the atrocities perpetrated on animals every day, I knew I could never be a part of it. So giving it up was easy. But knowing about the sadness that haunts animals raised for consumption is not easy. That will never be easy.
But every day, I’m grateful that I know this truth. I’m grateful that I don’t kill chickens, pigs, ducks, turkeys, cows, horses, dogs, fish, deer, birds, or any other animal for their flesh or their skins. I’m grateful that I have a diet that will allow me to live a long and healthy life and that I’ll never have a heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure or clogged arteries. I’m grateful that I’ve found a husband who believes the same as me when it comes to the protection of animals. And I’m grateful that, unlike 20 years ago when I first learned this truth, there are many, many others like me who have this same belief.
I am so grateful to Bettina for sharing her story! I admire her for learning about the atrocities committed on animals and taking the action to no longer be a part of them. You can follow her on twitter @veganbetty. Be sure to let her know you appreciated her sharing her story!
Feeling inspired? Do you have a story to tell? Please read this post and learn how you can be part of the Vegan Testimonials Project. There are also some interviews about the project that you may enjoy. Kasey Minnis (@veggiemightee) interviewed me for This Dish is Veg. Ashley Flitter also interviewed me about the project on The Unintentional Vegan. And I just finished an interview with Jamessina on Jamessina.com.