60 WINNING short essays ~ Why I will Always be Vegan
After seeing one too many posts from “ex-vegans”, this campaign was born in contrast to make a public statement. From the worldwide vegan giveaway event comes this compilation of 60 winning short essay selections from around the globe offering insight into the perceptions of a committed vegan. In 400 words or less, each entry explained why they will always be vegan and most won a giveaway gift being offered by the participating vegan businesses. ~ It was not an easy task to select winners from many hundreds of possible winners! At some point it boiled down to whether I had a prize offered in that region. I was given comic relief when – not one, not two, but three – self-proclaimed non-vegans sent in their essay on why they will always be vegan! Tee-hee…I kid you not! Here, in random order, is the compilation of short essay winners from around the globe:
One day in March 2007, when I was 13 years old, I decided to go vegan. Simply because I knew it was the right thing to do. Why should I participate in horrible violence towards other animals when there was absolutely no necessity to do so? It just didn’t make sense to me. So, overnight, I became a vegan and stopped participating in animal use for food, clothing, testing, entertainment and any other purpose. Seven-and-a-half years later, I am still vegan. And I can say with absolute certainty that I will always be vegan. Because it isn’t about me. ~ Veganism is the recognition that other animals are sentient individuals, just as we are, who deserve to live their lives free from enslavement and exploitation. They are the victims of our non-vegan choices. And when there are victims involved, a choice is not personal. It is not something as simple as choosing what music to listen to or what colour t-shirt to wear. Whether we want to believe it or not, the simple fact is when we purchase non-vegan products, we are actively participating in the harming and killing of others. ~ How could I ever go back to that? To deciding that the small, personal benefits I might get out of using animals is more important than their lives? I have seen the fear they feel when they are about to be killed. I have watched them struggle and fight for their lives. I used to disregard that suffering and push my feelings away.To do what everyone else was doing. But I refuse to do that anymore. Using nonhuman animals may be the norm, but that does not make it right. Those lives matter. They are not ours to use and do whatever we like with. I will always be vegan. It is who I am. It is not a diet. It is not a lifestyle. It is a stand for justice. ~ Emmy James, Waikato, New Zealand
“True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power. Mankind’s true moral test, its fundamental test (which is deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals.” Milan Kundera – The Unbearable Lightness of Being ~~ Have you ever looked into the eyes of a sow? Do you truly think that we lack the means to communicate across species? She is not the “mere animal” you think you know. She senses and smells your presence. She can see your silhouette cast against the light. She advances, timidly, and seeks your eyes. Her orbs measure you, depose your shield of solid convictions and seek the empathic spark that is dormant within you. Indifference ceases where eyes meet: we are drawn to the deep moonlit wells of the other, burrowing deep in the psyche as we disturb the murky waters of ourselves. This introspection, this deep instinctive soul-searching is the galvanising spark that tears off the blindfold of our self-centred existence as we can lie to ourselves about the other, but we cannot do so without betraying the feral emotions that surge within us. It reminds us that, on this precious planet, we share our paths with other beings; beings gifted with the primeval urge to pursue an existence free from pain and humiliation. ~ To some veganism may just be a label, a passing fad, a radical extremist statement against sensible norms; to others, common earthlings like ourselves, it is the promise of social justice made to the eyes of the sow and to many others. It is an oath, a pledge to recognise that all eyes are a window to a sentient being but also mirrors reflecting back the suffering that we, as a society, inflict on the defenceless. I have looked into her eyes. I have not seen the raw mechanics of Descartes’ automata. I have not seen the acquiescent victim of the Dominion contract. I have seen dread, confusion and demoralization. I have seen questions asked of myself and of my people. And that is why I will always be vegan: to restore the light to those eyes, to restore the promise of life and to fulfil the one universal value we can build a new planet upon. That value is empathy. ~ Jan Claus Di Blasio, Rome, Italy
It’s been nearly 14 years since I had my vegan epiphany and vowed to never again partake of or participate in anything offered by the machine of violence that we call the animal industry. Since that time, my understanding of veganism has continued to grow and deepen, until it has become such an integral part of my ethics and my values that I can no longer imagine being able to separate from it, and still be able to look at myself in the mirror with a clear conscience. To no longer be vegan would mean to deny the most obvious truth I have ever learned, and to turn my back on every single animal who is counting on me and others like me to advocate for them in a world where they are seen as disposable objects rather than sentient individuals. To no longer be vegan would mean to pretend that I do not know what is really going on – on the farms, in the hatcheries, in the slaughterhouses, in the laboratories, in the oceans, and everywhere else on this planet where animals are treated as resources for us to exploit. To no longer be vegan would mean to deny my true nature as a person who can feel for the pain of others, and who aspires to live as peacefully as she can in this far from peaceful world. To no longer be vegan would mean to return to a world of darkness, for it would require me to close my eyes to the light of moral progress that illuminates the way forward to a better world for us all. But perhaps an even more saddening thought is that it would require me to extinguish the light of my own integrity, which is the source of my faith in myself, and which I count on to show me my own next steps on my way to a better self. ~ Angel Flinn, Hawaii
I will always live vegan because, ever since the moment my eyes were opened to the horrors and atrocities of the culture of animal exploitation pervasive throughout our current global community, I refuse to participate in, support or encourage the system of animal slavery, torture, rape, mutilation, deprivation and wholly unnecessary and unjustifiable death I see all around me. Humans do not kill and eat animals for necessity, though that is the myth to which many cling. Rather, humans slaughter billions of land and sea animals each year for habit, tradition, convenience and taste, none of which would hold up in court as worthy defenses were we to use these as justifications for having killed even one human animal. ~ The moment I realized the animal holocaust of which I had been a participant, a light turned on inside me that cannot be turned off. I immediately understood that since I would not knowingly support the terrorism, bullying, rape and murder of members of my own species, I also couldn’t justify condoning such behavior across species. As one person elegantly put it, when my heart spoke louder than my stomach, I changed forever. ~ Because it was the normal, accepted way of raising a child in the United States (today I know “normal” is just a setting on a washing machine), I was forced to consume products of animal exploitation and indoctrinated into an animal-product addicted culture before I was able to make my own choices. Once I knew the truth and learned I had other choices, I made the compassionate choice to live a vegan lifestyle. ~ A plant-based diet is far healthier for humans and the planet than one involving the raising and killing of non-human animals for food. As any of the millions of vegans – and non-vegans – around the world know, consuming products of animal exploitation is unnecessary, gluttonous and cruel, as well as wasteful and environmentally damaging. It comes as no surprise that a way of life linked to such internal maladies as cancer, heart disease, impotence and diabetes would also have adverse effects on our external environment. ~ I will always live vegan because I am no longer selfish enough to require that another sentient being should suffer and die for my convenience. I live for the day we no longer have to create humane societies but instead simply choose to live as one. ~ Keith Berger, Co-Founder, South Florida Vegan Support Group
Now that I am awake, I cannot go back to sleep. Awakened from a culturally induced slumber, I have made a pledge to myself – but more importantly have taken an oath for the animals. I am now their caregiver, witness and companion—and will never be able to justify their exploitation. This connection is now embedded deep within my being and there is no going back. I will stick with being a vegan because it is the tougher road to travel. It would be much easier to stay asleep, and blissfully unaware of what happens behind the walls of the slaughterhouses and testing facilities. Becoming a vegan connected the dots for me and I can no longer claim ignorance or indifference. Making the connection removes the veil and exposes the reality that society has gone to great lengths to conceal. As a vegan, I view the world through a lens of compassion and empathy. I can now see through the walls and will never again allow myself to be blindfolded or misled by the masses. For me, veganism is not a fad diet, social club or some kind of life-crisis, attention-seeking hipster ideal. It is a moral philosophy and lifestyle with a foundation of certain principles and tenets. Not all that dissimilar to other “isms” that denote a specific practice, system or philosophy. It is not temporary or just a phase; it will be a lifelong journey of progress and learning. Vegan for life—and for their lives. Sincerely, Clinton Vernieu, Brisbane, Australia
I will always be vegan:
* Because of the bear trapped in a tiny cage, continuously drained of the bile so prized by humans. The elephant whose family was shot so she could be used in a circus. The lobster who had been guarding her children when she was trapped and boiled alive. And the ground nestlings who were crushed when hay was harvested to feed “happy cows” during winter. ~~
* Because of Fasier; the Siberian tiger, mascot of a university. He lived at an accredited zoo that spearheads international conservation and educational programs. Fasier paced several steps to the end of his cage every day. Then he turned and paced back. ~~
* Because of Anthony, the beloved young goat in a small dairy herd. His legs shook with terror as he was carted off to die. His caretaker cried as the trusting Anthony bleated his bewilderment. ~~
* Because of the mouse who was force-fed laundry detergent until her organs finally failed and she died a miserable death. And the mother and baby macaque wrested away from each other, to study the effects of a human anti-anxiety drug.
* Because of the first male chick of the morning to tumble from the conveyor belt to the grinder below. His sisters will live in a backyard and be called “happy chickens” until they are slaughtered. ~~
* Because of Oscar, Lucas, and Petuna, who escaped the grisly fate of millions of pigs. They would have borne their torture in completely different ways, because they are different individuals, with their own personalities. ~~
* Because of the human child who died from dehydration and starvation because the water and land that once sustained her family are now used for cattle, to feed other humans. ~~
* Because of the calf who lived next to a sanctuary and daily tried to push through to freedom and companionship. Every day, the farmer carried him back to the reality of his life (and death) on a “humane farm.” ~~
* Because I have been told that the saddest sound in the world is a dairy cow calling to her stolen child. ~~ I have literally billions of compelling reasons to remain vegan all my life. I may falter at times, but exploiting animals deliberately? It’s unthinkable. ~ Susan Cho, Chicago, USA
Becoming vegan has been one of the biggest defining points of my life. We all search for them – these defining moments – through our relationships with others, through religion or spirituality, through enduring physical challenges on our bodies and in our environment. Every one of us is on a different path, but I think most of us want the same thing: to leave this world knowing that we lived a full life, and that we have grown into a better person during our time here. I’ve experienced two different religions and my fair share of relationships so far in my life, including motherhood. I have spent the first half of my life in one country and the second half in another. I have done quite a bit of travelling. I’ve got some life experience in my 54 years. As a result, I feel that every step of the journey has helped me discover my truest self in veganism. ~ Even as a vegetarian for 17 years, I knew deep down that I could do more, and that feeling stayed with me until I finally chose veganism seven years ago. Veganism offers a spiritual fulfilment that transcends any experience of oneness with the Divine that religion could offer. It is true compassion, true selflessness and brings an incomparable feeling of wholeness to know that I am choosing not to engage in violence against any sentient creature. I can look any animal (including human) straight in the eye and feel a connection to that being that I never felt before I was vegan. It’s almost indescribable, but it is a fullness of heart that other vegans will understand and recognise. It’s not “praying” for a better future. It is BEING a better future; right now. I get to be the best possible example of humanity in THIS life. ~ The rewards of veganism go deeper. I have discovered that my food choices have not diminished, but expanded. I am trying new things, I have learned to cook and love it! I now spend my Sundays volunteering at an animal shelter, and it is the best job I have ever had, because the feeling it gives me is better than money. Committing to veganism has made me FREE to explore life unfettered, causing the least harm possible to our planet. Veganism is a gift that I would never trade. It’s the secret to a happy life. ~ Lisa Bennett, Maidenhead, England
I will always be vegan because “it’s the Golden Rule thing to do.” This moral and ethical precept teaches us that we should behave toward others as we would have others behave toward us. Non-vegans conveniently take the word others to mean other humans. Vegans consider others to include ALL members of the animal kingdom, both humans and nonhumans alike. Generally, humans know that the non-human beings we call animals have characteristics, and rights, that are fundamentally similar to those of the human beings we call people. It therefore makes logical sense that the spirit of the Golden Rule should also apply to non-human beings. Non-vegans conveniently permit there to be a disconnect — a barrier — between human rights and animal rights. However, elemental logic suggests that there is no real conflict between these sets of rights. They are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are mutually inclusive. Humans should be “for” both. I often use the term “animal wrongs” instead of animal rights. This makes it easier for people to see that they simply do not have the right to perpetrate “wrongs” — either directly or indirectly — against the other sentient beings known as animals. It is morally “right” for humans not only to stand up against wrongs, but also to take personal action to end them. Americans took such action during the civil rights movement in the 1960s; to eradicate the abomination of racism. Today, we should create a national/international “social justice movement” that focuses on eradicating the abomination of speciesism. It is speciesism that is THE underlying cause of all the exploitive injustice that the human species wreaks upon the non-human species. We’re at a point in our human evolution where we must recognize that fact, and DO SOMETHING about it. Consider this compelling quote by Henry Spira: “If you see something that’s wrong, you’ve got to do something about it.” Most vegans understand that the practice of speciesism permits abject cruelty against, and causes the undeserved death of, other sentient beings by human beings. Vegans know that speciesism is wrong. Vegans make a morally and ethically based “crossover.” They become “humaneitarians” — humans who live as humanely as they can — in the true spirit of the expanded application of the Golden Rule. Because I so wholeheartedly believe that the vegan lifestyle represents the “Golden Rule way to live,” I will always be a vegan. With peace, non-violence, liberty, and justice for ALL, Craig Cline; ardent animal advocacy activist, Salem, Oregon, USA
My vegan lifestyle is in my soul…One way to explain my reason for being vegan is by telling the story of the cow. This is an analogy that I feel represents my reasons. A person once asked me about a picture of a black and white image. He asked me, what do I see? When I initially looked, all I saw was lots of black spots, In my eyes it was a picture of a black and white image. I could not see anything else. The person said to me to look deeper. I looked again and tried to focus on the image. They encouraged me to look again. It may have taken me a while but I finally saw the cow. I feel that I saw the cow only because they inspired me to keep looking and to stay focused. Had I been left alone to analyze the photo I am not sure I would have seen the “cow”. I will always be a vegan because once you have seen the truth just like the “cow” image, it’s impossible to not see the reality of animal cruelty. I believe as a vegan I feel the same way. The “cow” represents animal suffering, and once I made a shift in consciousness that animals suffer needlessly it is hard for me to ever go back. I see the injustice when the animal suffers, when we take their babies away. I see the softness of nature when the baby animal is searching for his/her parent; they cuddle, kiss, play and enjoy each other’s company just as humans. Or perhaps when a baby animal learns to walk it looks the exact same way human babies learn. It must be the way baby animal teeth grow in just as adorable as human babies teeth, they have the same innocent look. Honestly, they all ask why I am a vegan – it is very simple, I’ve seen the “cow”. I don’t see a black and white image anymore. I feel I have a responsibility to be a role model. I want to show the world that we are capable of living a cruelty-free lifestyle. We do not need to hurt animals for any purpose. This is why my soul will always be vegan. My wish is that one day all of humanity will see the “cow”.~ Helen Liakopoulos, Montreal, Canada
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In the eyes of the creator
We are all the same.
No matter what species
No matter what name.
Karen Lyons Kalmenson