By: Rebecca Jacobs
For those of you who don’t know completely or at all what a vegan is, here’s a brief summary: no animal meat, no bird meat, no seafood, no eggs, no milk, no cheese, no yoghurt, no honey; no animal by-products, and nothing that has any of that listed in the ingredients. Yes, that includes chocolate, and no, goat cheese is not vegan. It also means avoiding leather, fur, and other animal-skin products (Uggs, for example, are made from sheep skin). Vegan is a lifestyle choice that revolves around the right for all animals to live cruelty free. As far as I know, I’m the only vegan at NT.
Now that we have the basics covered, let me contradict the title of this article and tell you why it’s easy for me to be vegan. I chose to become vegan because I care about the issues it raises. It’s easy for me because the alternative, knowingly eating meat and other animal products, would be one hundred times harder. For those of you with a pet, just try to imagine killing and eating it. Just as you can’t comprehend having Rex for lunch, I cannot picture myself eating any meat. The same feelings of disgust and horror you probably feel at the thought of eating your dog/cat/hamster/bird apply to me eating the nameless cow, pig, chicken, and fish. I’ve had people try to tempt me back to the dark side of omnivorism with a graphic description of a juicy, flame broiled burger. Can I tempt you with a cat-meat burger? Didn’t think so. Trust me, those attempts aren’t working. I also care an awful lot about our environment, and this just happens to coincide with vegetarianism. Cows alone famously produce a lot of methane, but this isn’t as funny to me as it used to be. Livestock are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all the planes, trains, and cars in the world- and the need for meat in every meal is a huge factor in this statistic. Being vegan is easy for me because I don’t want to contribute to the pollution, deforestation, and general environmental havoc that come with eating animals. If this wasn’t enough, the influence I have on people around me is a huge support in my vegan-ness. No matter what anyone says, being vegetarian or vegan makes a difference. Whether it be simply giving them a different viewpoint on meat eating or actually convincing someone to try out vegetarianism, I can see the influence I have on people, and it makes me happier than they know.
Now let me explain what makes it hard. Becoming vegan wasn’t the most fun of journeys. The way animals are bred, raised, and slaughtered for our consumption is not something I can brush off and ignore after finding out and researching about the subject. But the actual finding out and researching was nothing short of horrific. You try seeing as many pictures as I have of chickens too weak to support their own bodies, watching as many videos as I have of pigs being tortured before reaching the slaughter house or cows being skinned alive because the electric shock didn’t kill them, and reading as much as I have about the diseases and disorders that the animals get from their unnatural diet and lifestyle. I don’t enjoy being sickened by meat; it’s hard being vegan because of the very reasons I am vegan. Still, it does make it easy to be vegan. What’s worse, personally, are the comments that I hear from people absolutely determined to continue their meat eating. I try to stop myself from full out grabbing shoulders and yelling, “What are you doing?!” at passing people enjoying Big Macs, yet whenever the topic of my vegan-diet comes up, people decide that I would be a good person to tell just how much they love meat. I can handle that, I used to eat meat too. What I can’t handle is the passing remark, “I could never do that” or some variant on, “I’m not vegan; I can do what I want.” To you, that may be nothing more than a dismissal of a diet choice, but to me, those are the words that promise to cut down another acre of rainforest to make room for a factory farm, those are the words that pour pollution into the water and the air, and those are the words that sentence another 100 animals to death every year. What makes being vegan hard is knowing that others aren’t.