Emmy James, Waikato, New Zealand
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 decide that the small, personal benefits I might get out of using other 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 non-human animals may be the norm, but that doesn’t 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.
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.