Hey everyone, I have joined forces with a lovely lady who is an excellent writer, and an avid animal lover. Allow me to introduce you all to the passionate & delightful, Ramona Janssen! *applause!*
‘Mona’ has graciously agreed to write periodic blog posts discussing all things relating to animal rights, veganism, compassion, health … the list goes on and on. Anything that affects animals and our world are topics that Ramona has a keen interest in, and I’m sure you will find her posts poignant and thought provoking. An immense animal lover from childhood, Mona has always felt deeply for the suffering of our non-human friends – but like all of us, it took her a while to fully realise just how exploited so many are, and her unwitting complicity in it all. This first entry is an introduction to what you can expect to see in the coming weeks, and explores her journey and thoughts on animal exploitation & veganism.
Enjoy. Over to you Mona….
Hello to everyone, and welcome to my first blog post.
Veganism is rising. It was a whisper, then it was a presence, and now there is an undeniable quickening as more human beings awaken to this incredibly rewarding life choice. If there was ever anything wrong about being vegan, it was that there were too few of us – and that is rapidly changing.
There is something about being vegan that transcends a choice in diet; it is also a philosophy, a freedom, a connection, a relief and a state of joy.
Without doubt, choosing to become vegan is the single best thing I have ever done, and I would like to share my passion for it, tales and opinions and joy and humour – with you. The list of potential topics is vast, but includes “Shiny, Happy Vegans”, “It’s Not all About the Food. But omg, the Food”, “Vegans vs Vegos (in the Nicest Possible Way)” and responses to current affairs.
Initially I will blog every one to two weeks. Thank you Maree, for hosting my blog – you are awesome. And you’re vegan, which means you are even more awesome. How awesome can one little dynamo package of critter-mad human be? Humans don’t come any better than you.
And so to begin, I think the best way is:
Why Am I Vegan? The Evolution of the Mones.
Some humans eat meat. Some do not…..
Scene: Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia; a frustrated Communications student (I wanted to do art, dammit), I got involved with Animal Liberation on campus. They were screening a documentary called “Hidden Crimes”, which was ostensibly about animal experimentation. The gradual revelation of brutal and shocking acts committed by my fellow humans on my fellow beings was nothing short of deeply disturbing.
But somewhere amongst the various scientific experiments, the filmmaker had cut in footage of the slaughter of a cow. I can’t remember whether the doomed one was male or female; I will refer to her in the feminine. It is 22 years since I saw the footage, and this is how I remember it:
She was brown and beautiful and looked straight into the camera. A man took aim with a rifle and shot her in her head. Next she was hoisted by her hind legs until she dangled; a man then cut her throat and jumped back as the blood gushed out. The man walked around her hanging body, cutting with a sawing action, severing her head. Somewhere in all this, as she hung upside-down, her front leg moved in an arc, and it was not the result of anything moving it other than her.
In a short time all that was left of her was a hanging lump of meat.
In amongst all the cruelty in scientific experiments, the gravest offences against those who cannot speak our human language, it is possible that the slaughter of that cow disturbed me the most in its sheer vileness.
I remember being horrified, overwhelmed by the wrongness of it all. The girl next to me was sobbing. After the documentary ended I went to a toilet and sat in the cubicle, dazed, shattered. I was filled with revulsion and shame, and then realised that something in me had changed, had shifted or perhaps just surrendered. When I arrived at my flat later, my Mum was there and had cooked fillet steak for dinner; I remember her being rather annoyed at me when I advised her I was not going to eat it and in fact, I was going vegetarian. This should have been no surprise to her, considering I had made a number of half-hearted attempts at going vego during my childhood/teens (without support from my well-meaning parents).
Even though I still enjoyed the taste of it at that time, I stopped eating red meat and became a white meat carnivore (which, let’s face it, is a more honest term than “red meat vegetarian”!). It was only a few weeks before I made myself a chicken sandwich on rye. I put it in my mouth and it was as though I had taken a bite of sawdust. It had happened. I had moved to the next stage without really noticing. All meat was eliminated from my diet.
As I thought about it, I realised I was opposed to animals being killed so that I could eat them or wear them. In hindsight I didn’t do much research about it, but it seemed fair enough to me from what I knew. So the next things to go were leather and silk – fur was never an issue because it always seemed inherently wrong to me. I started by deciding to never buy leather or silk again, but I kept wearing those leather shoes I still had in my wardrobe. I shopped compassionately, choosing cruelty free soaps and stuff. I still enjoyed eating eggs, cheese and yoghurt.
The internet arrived and suddenly there was far more information readily available about everything, including factory farming, the truth about the dairy industry and the egg industry, inhumane practices that are considered normal as part of animal husbandry; the list is long, comprehensive and revolting.
Fast forward to June 2006. At this point I was happily vegetarian, and looking forward to being in the audience at a Peter Singer lecture at the University of Western Australia. I understand he rubs a lot of people the wrong way, but there is no denying that he has a gift for asking the uncomfortable questions with clear reasoning.
At some point in the evening he spoke about the dairy industry and what happens to the babies. Yes, babies. Calves are babies; innocent, desperate to suckle, and in need of their mother’s love. Despite this, they are torn from their mothers shortly after birth so that humans can feed on the milk that was meant for them (i.e. the calves). The heifers are raised in nurseries to become part of the dairy herd, and the young males who are not kept for breeding purposes are usually kept alive for three to four months to end up as veal, or fattened to be slaughtered as yearlings.
I knew all of this, yet somehow had managed to continue consuming dairy right up till then. As Peter Singer talked, I was transported back to a holiday in the South West of Western Australia, when I had been witness to the most awful bovine bellowing. It was explained to me that the sorrowful, panicking sound was the mother cows calling for their babies who had been taken from them and that it would go on indefinitely. Suddenly whatever it was that I had been protecting myself with just fell away. No more denial, just a definitive decision to be something better than the cause of that tragedy.
Thank you, Peter Singer. I walked into your lecture a vegetarian, and walked out vegan.
Well, almost. We have rescued ex-battery chickens on our property, and have learnt much from them – including the fact that even if we ask them not to, the chooks who still lay eggs will do so on mostly a daily basis. I kept on eating my beloved chooks’ bumnuts (although I noticed that they were starting to taste oddly bitter), while working on convincing my partner, Jiffy, to consider becoming “vegan” too. He resisted bravely, until a friend of ours convinced him to watch Earthlings. I chose not to watch it, knowing full well I would end up a blubbering mess, so I went to bed. I was gently woken up by Jiff after he’d watched it, and he said, “I finally understand where you are coming from. I don’t want to be part of that anymore. I am going vegan.”
“We’ll still eat our chooks’ eggs, right?”
“No, I want to do this properly.”
And so it was somewhere around the beginning of the southern spring of 2006 that two new vegans were born. That’s when the fun started – and I really do mean fun, although I won’t be writing about that here today.
The point of this article is to tell a story of one person’s journey from eating meat to veganism. I ate meat until my 26th year. I was vegetarian for 17 more. Now I look back and acknowledge that although I choose to not waste time with regret, if there was anything I could regret about this, it is that I have not been vegan my entire life.
If you are considering becoming vegan – it is a wonderful, amazing life choice and you will only truly understand this once you choose it.
What are you waiting for?
For the critters