by Alannah Quinn, Brisbane, Australia
There was a time when I was unconscious, wrapped up in superficial wants. My mind was fixed on my materialistic needs. I existed purely in a little bubble of simple self, warm in the comfort of my easy ignorance and unable to see the horrific truths of the world through the walls of my self-inflicted coma.
I never knew I was ignorant. In fact I prided myself on being intelligent and knowledgeable, believing I was well rounded and in tune with society because I watched the news. I thought I was an environmental activist because I cared about the planet and attended street rallies. I thought I was an advocate for animals because I disapproved of abuse and neglect. I thought I was a humanitarian because I took part in the 40 Hour Famine. I thought I knew all there was to know about life.
Something I have always known, however, is that I want to “save the world”. It wasn’t until I awoke from this coma that I realized what saving the world actually meant. Some vegans describe their moment of awakening as a “spiritual” experience; others as a “light bulb moment”. For me it was like getting whacked in the face with a shovel, having my heart and soul ripped out, and my mind detonated into a million little pieces. It was like being pushed off the edge of a cliff into a black hole I thought may be there, but never truly acknowledged.
It was violent, frightening and traumatic, and it was heart breaking. Suddenly you are aware of the animal holocaust happening right now and the mass destruction humans are inflicting on the Earth. Suddenly you become fully aware of the impact your decisions are having on innocent beings and you can’t look the other way. There is no choice but to change. You are filled with a passion friends and family don’t share, fully understand or appreciate. You are labeled “radical,” “difficult to feed,” “an eco-terrorist,” “crazy” and “weird.”
But the pain knowledge brings you, the labels they pin on you, and the misconceptions they have don’t worry you because you are vegan. You are fully aware of what is happening in the world and you have the courage, insight and the heart to acknowledge the facts and to actually do something with them.
Becoming vegan means adopting a philosophical lifestyle that extends beyond the dinner plate. Being vegan means accepting the transformation as an obligation rather than a choice. When you have your “awakening moment,” you become aware of the duty you have to create change. This transformation has allowed me to see that wilful ignorance is death to the soul and that living in truth is the only way to exist. I can never return to seeing the world through childlike, ignorant eyes. That’s why I’ll be a vegan until the day I die.
Special thanks to Butterflies Katz for publishing this as one of 100+ entries in her short essay contest and eBook: Why I Will Always be Vegan.
Image courtesy of panuruangjan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net