Personally, I went vegetarian many years ago as I have always been an animal lover. I still rescue bugs from the shower. I am teaching my two boys to take (non bitey) bugs outside. I make my husband take spiders out the front as I am game enough to put a plastic container over them but that's about it. Sometimes when he gets home from night shift there is a row of spiders in containers at the front door waiting for him to take them outside.
I can't stand to watch any animal suffer. Call it dorky, but it is who I am, and I know many people feel the same. Not wanting to contribute to the pain and suffering of animals, going vegan seemed like a logical (and long overdue) step for me - it just made sense.
In my younger days, as soon as I was old enough to start making pocket money I would save up so I could sponsor animals and donate to animal welfare organisations.
I have volunteered with quite a few places over the years including WIRES (Wildlife Information and Rescue Service). Man, there are some funny stories to tell there (maybe in another blog!).
Other organisations include Conservation Volunteers Australia, ORRCA (Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia), Free the Bears, Wirrimbirra Wildlife Sanctuary (Bargo NSW), and the local pound. I currently volunteer for a local greyhound rescue group and I was also one of the original Committee Members who started the Sea Shepherd Sydney Chapter.
I use to go down to the Sydney Aquarium and set up a table inside, at the entry with various petitions for people to sign to try and help stop seal clubbing, whaling and other horrendous activities we humans like to participate in. I even dragged family members along to help me and one day hired a dolphin suit for one of them to dress up in! (We only scared a small number of children that day I promise.)
When I made the decision to go vegan I knew I wanted to have a better diet, as I am now a mum who wants to spend as long as I can with my children.
I had a horrible vegetarian diet. I don't like to cook so I would always make whatever was the easiest and fastest to prepare which was usually not very healthy.
There is so much evidence supporting a vegan (or plant based) diet and when done properly (yes, you can still be a junk food vegan) it can be one of the healthiest diets to adopt.
We can get the nutritional requirements we need from vegan food. There may need to be a little bit of research done initially to understand it. Protein, iron, calcium and other essential nutrients can be found in plant based foods you just need to eat a broader range of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes to ensure you are getting all of them.
There are a lot of mock meats now that taste really awesome. We recently have gotten hold of some vegan fish fingers that actually taste like 'normal' ones. The checkout lady was quite confused at vegan fish fingers though hehe. Personally, I don't really like salads, fruit and vegetables on their own. Initially with a plant based diet I pictured salads, whole fruits and vegetables on my plate and was not very enthusiastic about it all, however the things you can turn these foods into is amazing.
We eat nachos, lots of pasta and curry/rice dishes, burgers, pizzas, mac n cheese, sausage rolls, cakes, sweets, ice cream and chocolates and so many things you would not think are vegan. You just need to look up some vegan food pages on Instagram to see the awesome creativity happening in the plant based world.
I do find it quite funny that people will screw their face up when a vegan mentions they drink soy milk, and eats chickpeas and lentils however the norm is to drink breast milk from other species and eat all sorts of their body parts filled with who knows what.
There are books and all sorts of scientific research that has been carried out showing the downside to meat and dairy both ethically, nutritionally and environmentally. A quote from the Vegan Australia page states
"The area of the Australian continent is about 770 million hectares (Mha). Of this, 429 Mha (56%) are used to graze beef, sheep and dairy."
This does not include land used to grow crops to feed farmed animals.
On multiple occasions I have seen arguments from people saying what will happen to all the farm animals if we stop eating them. They will become homeless or extinct. Another rather odd argument.
The vegan movement is getting more and more popular everyday however we do know that it is still a minority over all. It will come down to supply and demand. Over time less and less animals will be bred. It is highly unlike they will all of a sudden become homeless.
In regards to them becoming extinct, they will still be around. People love animals and would have them as pets or very cute lawn mowers. Personally I would rather them not be bred at all, if it means they won't suffer through the horrible cruelty they endure in their short lives.
Wouldn't it also benefit the environment, as we wouldn't need the amount of land required for animal agriculture? And considering studies have shown that meat production produces more greenhouse gas emissions then the transport sector.... cow farts people, they are a thang.
Let's hope people continue to be open minded about veganism and the food we eat and that it one day becomes part of the norm and the animals, our health and the environment benefit as a result.