Sunday, July 4, 2010

Going Vegan, Catalyst

After joining the Humane Society of the United States for the summer as a legal intern, I finally decided three weeks ago to make the leap from a vegetarian diet to a vegan one.  I want to share my efforts, temptations, and tips on this blog.

For my first post on Going Vegan, let me give you a little background.

I became a vegetarian in 2005.  Since I was a child I questioned the morality of eating meat in the back of my mind: after all, how is a pig or cow fundamentally different from the dogs and cats I knew?  I was also a big fan of some famous vegans when I was a teenager, including Moby, Paul McCartney, and Thom Yorke.  When I was a freshman in college, I had my first cable internet connection and watched some undercover meat industry videos.  The images didn't prompt me to change my lifestyle right away, but they remained burned in the back of my mind.

Fast forward to 2005.  I gave up beef as a New Year's resolution for a variety of reasons including the ones mentioned above, although a recent mad cow scare was the last straw.  I remember the last time I made pork which came a few months later.  I was cooking pork chops in a frying pan and the gas/liquid escaping the meat sounded like squealing.  It cemented that the source of the meat was an animal, and I could never look at meat again without thinking such.  Chicken followed soon after, and buy June 2005 I was a full-fledged vegetarian. 

Over the years, I've entirely stopped buying eggs and milk.  I would still buy things with eggs and milk as ingredients, and still buy cheese and ice cream.  Three weeks ago I decided to cut myself off from animal products entirely and go vegan.

This change was inspired in a few ways.  Most importantly, the egg and dairy industry is essentially the same as the meat industry.  Male chicks are immediately killed since they don't produce eggs.  Male calves born to dairy cows usually become veal since they can't produce milk.  Egg-laying hens and dairy cows turn into meat when they are no longer producing eggs and dairy.

The catalyst towards veganism was my summer job at the Humane Society of the United States litigating livestock cases. The case I've worked on most of the summer is against an egg farm.  (As an aside, I just want to say that contrary to misconceptions that the HSUS has a secret vegan agenda, I know people in my small office who eat meat.  The only common denominator at HSUS is that we should be treating animals better.)

So now I'm a vegan.  This weekend is my three week anniversary of being vegan, although I've had a couple of slip-ups.  Stay tuned for future posts about my unorthodox definition of veganism, as well as good tips and substitutes I've discovered.

1 comment:

  1. As someone who raised lots of them, I can tell you that male calves are usually bought be kids or farm hands and bottle fed to weaning then raised as beef cattle, and they're usually treated very well (up til they become dinner). If their genetics are really good, they'll enjoy life as the cow version of a stud horse.

    Some may go to become veal, but because there is little demand for veal today, most won't.