I’m not proud of it, but my path to veganism was born of sheer vanity.
One of the curses of designers is that we can value image above most other things. I’ll spend hours agonising over positioning a single bead, just to make sure my design looks perfect. Another characteristic is that we work far too hard and don’t look after ourselves, so seven years ago, when I was working in a marketing role, the drive-through dinners after leaving the office late started to catch up with me. I got a little pudgy, so my solution was to become vegetarian… but only because I wanted to fit my skinny jeans again. There, I said it. I was the vegetarian that every other vegetarian hated. Admitting to my diet would always be followed with “… but I’m not like… a hippie.”
Yeah, I was a jerk.
Then, later on, I started to learn a few things about the fashion industry. Aside from the well-documented human rights issues, I learnt about the huge environmental impact the textile industry has. It’s the second largest polluter on the planet. I was disgusted, and I seriously considered walking away.
This led me to wonder what the number one polluting industry on the planet was, and its animal agriculture. I spent the evening reading about the horrible mistreatment of animals in factory farming environments, antibiotics used in meat production, and the fact that vast percentages of our land and water are used to produce animal feed for meat production while millions of people go hungry every day.
I wouldn’t call it a light-bulb moment. It was more like a niggling doubt that snowballed and swelled into the realisation that my lifestyle choices had far reaching consequences. I became vegan overnight, and funnily enough, those 6+ years of being a ‘vegetarian-for-the-wrong-reasons’ made it a really easy process for me, especially as I didn’t receive much support from family and friends.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is the path to living a vegan life doesn’t always start out the right way, but the planting of any seed can grow into something big: in my case, waking up every day with a clear conscience, and working on my sustainable and vegan fashion label.
I refuse to be part of the problem.
Special thanks to Butterflies Katz for including this in her compelling essay collection highlighting diversity amongst vegans:
I’M A VEGAN: One Movement, Many Voices.