I first saw slaughterhouse footage when I was about 13 years old. I had always been an animal lover; when I was a child, every penny of my pocket money was spent on plastic animals that I’d play with for hours, and I was desperate to become a vet until I realised I’d have to operate on cute, fluffy bunnies when I just wanted to cuddle and look after them. Seeing what happened to the animals I loved felt like a punch to the stomach – I mean, of course I knew that animals had to die so we could eat them, but I’d never really thought about it, never mind seen it.
Seeing the footage led to me becoming vegetarian for a grand total of… about one month. My excuse?
“But I can’t give up bacon!?” 🥓🥓🥓🥓
Not so long ago, perhaps a few years, my youngest sister announced that she was turning vegan. Oh for goodness sake, I thought, along with the majority of the family. What is she going to eat?! I couldn’t get my head around why she would survive on lettuce and water when chickens didn’t die to give us eggs; cows didn’t die to give us milk. In an attempt to understand, I decided to stick on a documentary called ‘Vegucated’ when I was flicking through Netflix one day. From there, I moved on to ‘Cowspiricy’. Once I’d finished watching ‘Earthlings’, I finally understood.
Sadly, it still took me a while to convert to veganism; there were various reasons, but that’s a whole other blog post. I finally bit the bullet and became vegetarian when I was 28, in June 2017, and today is the first day I am considering myself a vegan – 1st of January 2018, 29 years old.
I will not contribute any more to the cruel treatment and needless slaughter of millions of animals, but it goes so much further than that. From meat, to fish, to milk, to eggs, to leather, to fur, to wool, to bees, to circuses, to dog breeding, to make-up – animal exploitation is everywhere. I’ve learnt that not only does it lead to the torture of animals, which is so much worse than I could ever have imagined, but it’s killing our planet, and it’s killing us.
I could sit and write down all the reasons I decided to become vegan, but I think I’d lose you after the first, fourth, tenth paragraph… so instead I wanted to share some of the resources that taught me what I needed to know to make this decision. If you have a spare few hours, please do check them out.
🥕 Vegucated (Netflix) – As above, this was the documentary that first made me question what I believed about how the industry worked. It takes a more lighthearted approach and follows a small group of die hard meat-eaters attempting to try veganism for six weeks. I haven’t linked this as it’s currently not available on Netflix UK, but give it a search on YouTube.
🐮 Cowspiricy (Netflix UK) – This focuses on the environmental impact of how much meat and dairy we consume – it’s a real eye-opener, and perhaps the most important documentary I’ve watched. If you don’t watch anything else, please watch this one.
🍎 What the Health (Netflix UK) – I finally watched this documentary in February 2018, so I had to edit this blog to add it in here. For anyone concerned about the health benefits of meat & dairy, and what it means for your body to not consume it anymore, this is a tough but vital watch.
🌍 Earthlings (YouTube) – VERY GRAPHIC. This is the hardest thing I have ever watched. It doesn’t hold back, and shows the real nitty gritty behind most forms of animal exploitation, from circuses to farming to fishing. Personally, I had to watch it in short bursts over a number of days because I couldn’t cope emotionally with what I was watching. It is truly horrific, but sadly the truth is horrific.
🌱 Earthling Ed (YouTube) – The video I’ve linked there is, again, extremely upsetting and I only link it because of how powerful it is in showing how inhumane slaughter is – please that bear in mind. However, this guy also does street interviews which I find really fascinating to watch, and I really like his unaggressive and understanding approach to talking to people. If, like me, your first thought when you watched ‘Earthlings’ was but this doesn’t happen in Britain, right?, he also made a documentary called ‘Land of Hope & Glory‘ which focuses on farming in the UK.
The information is there, but the question is how we, as individuals, respond to that truth. Do we continue to bury our heads in the sand and carry on as normal, because what good can one person do? Do we continue to accept it as a part of life that we can’t change? Or, for some, do we continue because we don’t believe there’s anything wrong with what is happening?
Despite losing most of my faith in humanity over the past few years (Brexit, Trump, need I go on?), I still have some hope. Veganism seems to have exploded in popularity recently, with over 100,000 people signing up for Veganuary, and I do hope it isn’t just seen as the latest ‘craze’.
Meanwhile, I’m going to be using this space to discuss my vegan journey occasionally alongside my other ramblings about what else I want to achieve this year. I’m also always up for a discussion, no matter your viewpoint, so pop a message below or catch me on Twitter!