So I've been vegan for 19 years. (And vegetarian for 10 before that.) Initially, I thought I was never going to be one of those “eats vegetables all the time” vegetarians but then morphed into a (happy) health nut. Then I vowed I was never going to be one of those preachy vegans who tells other people what to do. And I've mostly stuck by that in fact, I always got better reactions and a fairer hearing by just doing what I was doing, and showing bemusement at other people's food choices. (Honestly, I've always gained the most ground by simply telling people my age. That seems to be the best pitch for the value of a plant-based diet.)
But a couple of things have happened on the way to the forum. Firstly, is my awareness that every day these “food choices” are allowed to slide, 200 million animals (just land animals) get a knife to the neck or a bolt to the brain, and are hung upside down to bleed out after living lives of abject misery and suffering. That's 200 million. That's every single day. That's a literally unfathomable amount of violence and pain. That's an unimaginable number of babies livestock are slaughtered at a very tender age crying out in pain and fear, waiting for someone to come rescue them… but no one's coming.
And that's a fairly outrageous price to pay for my discomfort at being a pain in the ass.
I don't judge anyone least of all my friends and loved ones. But I'm no longer willing to call black white. And the reality is that we torture and kill 70 billion of the innocent and defenseless each year, for zero good reason. To pretend evil is something other than what it is, or politely ignore it, is to allow it. Animal agriculture our global system of industrial-scale killing and torture of animals is violence on an unprecedented scale. Aside from destroying the planet, and killing us with heart disease, torturing and slaughtering floofs calves, lambs, piglets, and chicks is not and can never be okay. It also can't and won't go on forever. And we'll be very ashamed looking back. But every day it does go on is a disaster and a day that ends in total horror and tragedy for each of 200 million animals we'd try to help and save in any other circumstance.
Please read my piece from last year, “The Case Against Eating Animals,” which lays it out in four bullet points and four minutes. Please let me know if you'd like a free copy of this wonderful book, which lays out the points in more detail, but can still be read in an evening, plus has a four-week vegan starter kit. Jump into my facebook feed, where I'm making the incontrovertible case, point by point, and day by day (for the whole month of Veganuary.) Take a long luscious look at the amazing culinary adventure of glorious plant-based (and cruelty-free) food. Mainly, please take two minutes to think about aligning your actions with your values: no one is in favour of torture, environmental devastation, or heart disease but if you eat animals or animal products, you are personally paying for all three.
And it's not a personal choice if it has victims.
The second thing that's changed: at this point, I mainly really only want to hang out with other vegans I've recently discovered the London Vegan Runners, the London Vegan Hikers & Walkers, Geekstraveganza (London Vegan Card-and-Board-Gamers)… and founded the London Vegan Writers & Artists Salon. And I'm spending my time with them, in London's many wonderful vegan establishments. (Which are also the only ones I want to patronise at this point.) I think my Tribe has been hiding in plain sight.
With apologies to everyone else, but after 29 years of this, and waiting for people to get with the program… well, frankly, being vegan in a non-vegan world can be incredibly lonely-making and even crazy-making. Basically, vegans are people who have made a careful, reasoned, serious moral choice, based on understood facts, and that seems like the only possible moral choice one could make in the circumstances. And yet 99% of people on the planet have reached another conclusion (or, more often, declined to think about it too hard) and made another choice. And this can very easily make you feel insane or else like the only sane person on a planet of maniacs.
Retreating into the arms of others who have also reached this same irresistible moral conclusion, I've found, is incredibly relaxing and happy-making it feels like coming home.
The title of this dispatch could as easily have been “Vegan Radicalisation” so be it. Veganism can be properly understood as the fastest growing social justice movement in the world. And I'll be joining my first protest soon.
Lots of love to all. 💚💚💚