I call it a journey because it really has been a very long time. Nearly 17 years I believe. I was around 18 years old when I became a vegetarian. I had one other friend who was also. I hadn't learned anything in particular about vegetarianism, I just decided that I was not okay with eating animals. I eventually sought out more information. I remember sitting on the floor of the library with several of the books that I had found. And so I guess you could say that my real first reasons for becoming vegetarian, and then vegan, were all about the animals. The undeniable reality of what factory farming is made it impossible for me to be anything other than vegan.
I was 21 when I met Jason, he was almost 20, we had both already been vegan for a couple years at that point. As sympathetic as I was towards the animals, Jason was probably 100 times more. Or even more than that. His great caring can cause him much suffering.
A year or so later we were living our happy vegan life together. We learned more along the way, we became more committed along the way. We dreamed of having our own farm animal sanctuary. We did not wear leather shoes or wool, we did not eat honey or refined sugar. These things were always very easy for us, we were just living in a way that was common sense to us. We never felt like we were making a great sacrifice, we were certainly did not feel deprived of anything.
In addition to the obvious reasons regarding animal welfare, it was not long before we learned of many other reasons to continue our vegan lifestyle. There seemed to be so much illness and disease associated with the typical American diet, which is of course high in dairy and meat products. Antibiotics, hormones, chemicals in our foods... these issues are of great importance to us. Sometimes we would wonder why no one else seemed to care.
Now for a moment here I will jump ahead and share with you just part of my feelings on the subject today. As far as the unhealthiness of meat and dairy products goes, I realize now that there is a big difference between conventionally raised/factory farmed meat and highly processed dairy products, and animals that are humanely raised, organic, pastured, perhaps right in your own backyard. (And I am of course well aware that most vegans out there will completely disagree with the idea of an animal being raised humanely for food.) Remember though, this was back in the mid 90's (oh so long ago...) and there were not really any alternatives. So vegan we were!
We knew we would be vegan forever. I think everyone else believed it too.
But there is now a second part to this story...