No Other Choice

written by Megan E. Gallagher, Esq.
Sacramento, CA.

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Children are born with compassion, but are often taught to disregard animal suffering by their parents, educators and peers. My mother tells a story where she took 3-year-old me to a neighbor’s house to see some very skittish feral kittens who had been born in their garage. Within minutes, I was on the floor with kittens in my lap. My parents always said I had “a way” with animals.

A few years later, when I was served lamb for dinner, 8-year-old me found eating a baby sheep shocking and unacceptable. I went vegetarian on the spot. It lasted only a year due to familial and other pressures, basically the lack of adequate support.

I found my way back to vegetarianism at 13; and became the first vegan I knew at 17. I had no idea that such cruelty was involved in eggs and dairy, until I saw a picture of battery hens in a magazine. I went vegan the moment I read of these atrocities. Once I knew, I had no other choice.

Back then, many people pronounced it “vedge-ann,” and often asked me if I ate fish. There were few vegan resources or networking groups, and many people thought my being vegan was very peculiar. I have been vegan for 23 years and have explained veganism to hundreds of people in different countries over the last two decades.

At 17, I moved to Ireland to attend college, where I studied philosophy. I stayed in Ireland to work on a Master of Arts in philosophy by research thesis on animal rights, environmentalism and ontology. My own department was skeptical about the validity of my philosophical endeavor, but one professor, with a chuckle, said he would allow it, although he was doubtful such research could earn a Master’s degree. Quite fortunately for me, my department sent my thesis to England, for an expert to evaluate. That expert, a professor of philosophy at Liverpool, a pioneer in animal rights academia, validated my findings with an award of first class honors.

I have since moved home to California, attended law school, married, had children, and thus have navigated pediatricians’ offices, schools, other organizations, and the legal world, with the goal of raising awareness and integrating veganism into the mainstream.

I am hardly a pioneer any more; I am in the good company of increasingly numerous vegans.

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