Mariana Cerovečki, Croatia
Since I was a little child, I have always loved animals—well, I thought I loved “all animals”, but in reality I only loved and respected dogs and cats. I ate meat, dairy and other products of animal exploitation. I didn’t know better; I didn’t make the connection between what was on my plate and the lives that were ended for those meals.
But as I grew and found more information, I quickly had a shift in my perspective, my way of life. I slowly started to realize that this was going to be my calling—that I would devote myself to helping animals. I realized it’s not enough to volunteer at dog shelters. I wanted to help ALL animals and I realized the first step to do that was to start with myself and my choices—so I made the decision to stop participating in every type of animal exploitation. I became vegan when I was 13 years old, and shortly after that I became an animal rights activist.
Although I was really young, I remember that the only thing I regretted was that I didn’t do this earlier. How could I have claimed to love and help animals while I was consuming the products of their suffering? I knew that there was nothing I could do to change the past, so I focused on the future. I knew that being a vegan and animal rights advocate would be my purpose. I devoted every minute of every day to helping animals.
I will always be vegan because that is the least I can do for the animals. It is the moral baseline for humanity; it is the only non-violent, egalitarian way of life for both human and non-human persons on this planet.
When I was 13 and had just started as an animal rights activist, I had a vision that the whole world would be vegan if I continued spreading this message. Most people called me “crazy” and “young and naïve”. Well, nine years later, I still have the same vision, but now I don’t care if most people think I’m crazy—because it’s not about them. I look into the eyes of pigs, chickens, and cows, and I am reminded why I do it. And in those moments—those moments of friendship and respect between a human and non-human—I’m sure we can achieve this “young and naïve” vision of a vegan world. And if you still think it’s crazy, go and spend some time at an animal sanctuary; look into their eyes and try telling THEM a vegan world is not possible.
Special thanks to Butterflies Katz for including this as one of 100+ entries in her short essay contest and the resulting published collection: Why I Will Always be Vegan.