Growing up, I spent a few weeks during the summer at my family’s cottage in upstate New York. Nearby, there was an open dairy farm and petting zoo that I loved visiting. My favorite parts were feeding the goats and the cows and going on the dairy tour. Cows were my favorite animal. This could have been an animal paradise for all I knew—which wasn’t much.
On the dairy tour, cheery music played as the farm workers walked us through the milking process, taking us through the buildings that housed the separated cows and calves. Being born a girl on a dairy farm was “lucky,” they told us, because the newborn boys were sold off for “other purposes.”
I didn’t think about how strange it truly was until I was older. Why were we drinking the milk of another species? Why did non-human animals have to serve a purpose for us at all?
Seventeen and a vegetarian, I started watching vegan YouTubers who made recipes and filmed what they ate everyday. I couldn’t help but be captivated. Their lives and food seemed so vibrant and abundant. Full of life. Led down a spiral, I started researching what it was to live vegan and how animal products actually came to be.
Then the next day, and every day after that, I was vegan. Once I knew, I couldn’t not know. And that’s why I always will be.
It was a no-brainer. How could I claim to love animals while participating in their exploitation… When I saw the brutal reality of animals behind closed doors? When I watched the suffering of another being and sobbed as if it were my own?
If I wouldn’t want it to happen to me, I can’t support it happening to them. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” So, I must be vegan. I have to align my actions with my ethics.
Animals are not ours to eat, wear, or use. Although we look, act, and speak differently, humans and other animals are similar in the ways that matter; we are both capable of feeling joy and pain. I believe non-human animals are here to live out their lives in the natural world, or by our sides in harmony. That is why I will forever and always be vegan.