For 25 years I had been living my life like most other people in my culture and society, consuming the flesh from other animals, their milk, their eggs, their honey, wearing their skin, wearing hair taken from their bodies, using products tested on their bodies, and didn’t really reflect on the hurt inflicted on other animals for sport and entertainment, or know about the suffering of animals used to breed “pets.”
As a teenager I remember my brother bringing the corpses of two rabbits home, with holes in their bodies from the shotgun pellets that had killed them. That night parts of their corpse were served on my plate and I recall feeling very uncomfortable forcing the flesh into my mouth. I knew something wasn’t right about this.
I had also been taken “fishing” several times as a child, and remember on one occasion seeing a fish thrashing, floundering, gasping on the beach. Another time an older cousin said to me, “Imagine if a giant stepped on you,” as I attempted to squash an insect under my foot.
I never liked the taste of cow’s milk and cheese, so I tried soy milk as an alternative with my breakfast cereal. At one point I convinced myself that eating the flesh of other animals was okay if done “respectfully,” like in stories I had been told of the First Peoples who hunted other animals for food.
In 2003 I discovered the Animal Liberation Movement and veganism. I read some articles, watched some videos, and almost overnight I had become a vegan. I cleared out my house of clothing and other products that had been taken from or tested on the bodies of other animals, joined a few organisations, and participated in several protests. I started to tell other people about the realities I had discovered. Several years later my sister, uncle and aunty joined me as vegans.
Over time, my understanding of the issues has deepened with the aid of further research, discussions, involvement in activism (including open rescues), and learning about speciesism, intersectionality of oppression and other forms of discrimination. I now know that I had been culturally and socially conditioned to accept unnecessary violence as the norm, indoctrinated with a violent ideology, a speciesist belief system that almost all cultures and societies accept without question.
I have also come to see the relationship between the exploitation and killing of other animals and human procreation and overpopulation, environmental destruction, capitalism, consumerism, patriarchy, and how many people live in denial of, or choose to ignore, the suffering and killing of other animals because of their religions, culture, traditions, customs, convenience, jobs, beliefs, relationships, and attitudes.
Knowing what I know now, I know I will always be vegan. There is no way I could ever return to living in a way that supports and inflicts unnecessary breeding, abuse, torture, mutilations, and death on other animals.