I went back and forth between being vegetarian and pescatarian for a couple of years prior to going vegan but what tipped the scales for me was a book: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safron Foer.
This book made me rethink the way I viewed animals as foods but it didn’t immediately make me go vegan. I dropped all meat right away – including fish – but continued drinking milk and eating eggs and honey for a while. Then, slowly, I started telling myself that I could be vegan at home and if I were, I wouldn’t have to care so much about what I ate out.
But of course I cared. Before long, I had cut out all animal products in my life and considered myself vegan. But I still didn’t want to tell other people around me that I was vegan. Why?
Simply because I had heard a lot of bad things about vegans: They bully people into feeling guilty about not going vegan; they drop you as their friend if you’re still eating meat; they talk about nothing else but veganism and how eating animals is bad.
I didn’t want to be viewed as one of these people, so I stuck to saying: “Thanks but no thanks, I’m just trying to avoid animal products for a while”.
I don’t know exactly what changed my mind but slowly, I started to become proud of being vegan. I was proud of myself for taking that step and being vegan made me feel really good. I didn’t necessarily see a difference in my physical or mental health but I it was a relief for me to always know that I didn’t contribute to animals being killed unnecessarily.
So I started to tell people.
The reactions? There weren’t even any reactions to talk about. People just didn’t care.
Now, it’s painfully clear. Of course no one cared because it just isn’t interesting for them – unless you were to walk into a dinner party wearing nothing but salad. But then, I was surprised that they didn’t care because for me it was such a huge change in my life and a change in how I define myself.
Now, I’ve been vegan for almost four years and I have no plans on ever going back. I’m glad I was recommended that book and bought it. I’m glad I read it.
I’m also glad that I very conspiratorially placed it in my parents’ bookshelf after finishing it. I thought my dad (who reads anything he gets his hands on) would pick it up by mistake. But no luck there. At least not yet.