May 1st marks the start of my vegan journey. Today, May 1 2018, it has been three years since I decided to go vegan. It is, without question, the best decision of my life. When I started this blog I did not want to go on and on about veganism, but in a more subtle way show you that vegan fashion, beauty and lifestyle is awesome. Because it is! But I feel that today is the perfect day to share my thoughts with you about my why.
I have always loved animals. When I was about four years old I remember playing on the street, when I found a little caterpillar. I accidentally killed it with my clumsy children´s hands, and I was completely devastated. From that moment on I have tried not to kill or harm any animal, ever.
As children we are very sensitive and instinctively do not want to cause harm to any living being. We are however taught to disregard, or never even become aware of, the suffering of some animals, because they are considered to be food or fashion. At the same time we learn to pet and love other animals. As my love for animals grew I asked my mom if we could get a cat. We did, Mimi, and I loved her with all my heart. This was my first deep and personal connection with an animal. Mimi was a friend, a member of the family. She would comfort me when I was sad, answer with a “mjau” when I talked to her, and tell me by scratching the couch when she was unhappy. There is no doubt in my mind that she had a soul and a life worth living. She had a value, just by being alive.
About four years ago I started to become more aware of that the food I was eating was made from dead animals. I had no real thought about quitting eating meat though, because it was what I considered to be normal, natural and even necessary. I did start to only buying meat from local farmers, because I wanted the animals to have had good lives before they were killed. After a while I stopped eating some meat, it just didn´t appeal to me anymore. I became more aware of animal rights and started reading about the animal industry. What I saw affected me deeply, I was horrified by the extreme suffering the animals were put through. I realized that not even milk and eggs were safe from animal abuse. As by chance I stumbled upon a vegan challenge, starting May 1st. I decided overnight that I would try it. I was scared of how difficult it would be, not really sure what I was doing. Even though I knew I would not stay vegan, I still wanted to learn more and at least give it a try. Cheese would without a doubt be the hardest to stay away from.
During this first month as a vegan I learned so much – about nutrition, new recipes and new ingredients. About the lie I had been told my entire life. I thought humans had to eat meat, eggs and dairy to survive, and that animal suffering did not belong in the Swedish animal agriculture. I was wrong. When the month had past I felt great, I was in line with my values and felt healthy and full of energy. I wanted to celebrate that I had made it, and did so by buying a goat´s cheese salad. But it didn´t feel right to eat cheese anymore, I didn´t even like the flavor as much as I used to. All I could think about was the suffering behind this “food”. That´s when I decided to really, fully, go vegan.
100 million land living animals are killed every year, in Sweden.
Globally the number is 150 billion, including marine animals (150 miljarder).
– Djurens rätt & PETA
Going vegan is about change, and change is hard. Change takes time and energy, so our brains fight it because it wants us to be efficient and save energy. But change is also empowering. There is nothing greater than overcoming fear, doubt and bad habits and gaining control of your life. Before going vegan I realized I had never made an active, well informed choice about what I eat or what I wear. Now, however, I am in charge. I choose not to eat everything at any restaurant. I choose to give up cheese, bacon and omelet, because food has become secondary to me. The lives of others are worth more than any piece of bacon can ever be. Realizing this is not a sacrifice – it’s a gift.
After almost a year as vegan it hit me that if I didn´t want to eat animals, I couldn´t wear them either. When doing some research on the fashion industry I realized that it was just as bad as the food industry. Just as with food this was a change – as a true fashionista. I was proud of my leather shoes and down jackets. But no design in the world is worth some else´s suffering.
Leather is a very profitable industry on its own – it is not just a bi-product from the meat industry.
Just in the village of Kerala in India, one of the world´s largest leather producers, there are 4 900 slaughterhouses.
– Djurens rätt
Animals are living beings. They feel pain, horror, fear, loyalty, love and joy, just like humans do. They give birth to and love their children, just like humans do. Animals communicate, animals play. Some are even proven to be aware of their own existence, just like humans are. Are their feelings and awareness just the same as humans´? I don´t know – no one knows, and I don´t think that matters. I believe that animals have the right to their own life, and to live in peace. They are not ours to own and use as we please. Their lives are not less worth than humans´, because who is to decide that? Who are you, who am I, to decide who´s life is worth more and who´s is worth less? If you have ever had a connection with an animal, like I had with Mimi, I am sure you can relate to what I mean.
If you have never connected with an animal like I have, I can say this: in the end it comes down to life. The purpose of life is life itself. No living being wants to die. Life is sacred, it´s the most valuable thing we have. No matter how you feel about someone else, be it an animal or a human, you have no right to take their life. I think most of us could not take a life, either. Within veganism we talk about “making the connection”. It took me years from that sad moment as a child, to make the connection. The food we eat and the clothes we wear are made from suffering animals. Just because you don´t hold the knife and cut the throat doesn´t mean you are not responsible. You can be anything you want, so why not be kind and compassionate? Make the connection. Go vegan.