Profile of a new vegan: Tegan was disconnected from food for a long time. Then she started caring. Here is her vegan story.
Growing up in Australia I frequently devoured a big juicy steak at the sports club or topped my pizza and pasta with creamy, shredded cheese.
Meat and dairy was a huge part of my childhood. It's all I ever knew. There was never a thought or question over whether there could be anything wrong with it.
I also felt fine eating this way. Everyone around me, aside from one vegetarian friend, ate meat, cheese and milk.
My family and I frequently drove down to the beach for our regular fish and chips dinner. I would almost always order the roast special or fish of the day at the RSL, devour Dominos Meatlovers or Hawaiian pizzas without a second thought.
I'm a good person. Respecting others and giving my time and energy to those who need it are very important values I live by.
I feel sick when I read in the news about child molesters, rapists, murderers. How anyone could inflict such harm on another individual shocks me to my core.
And yet I consumed animals products like there was nothing wrong with it. Sure I wasn't slaughtering the cows, chickens or fish myself. I wasn't the one storing chickens in small cages or separating helpless calves from their mothers. I wasn't murdering them. There was no blood on my hands.
But I was contributing to animal cruelty by purchasing and consuming meat and dairy. I voted "yes" with my dollars.
I was really disconnected from my food for the longest time. Sure I knew the steak I ate came from a cow but I never took the time to question whether that cow had feelings, a family or a heart. Truth be told cows are living, breathing beings just as we humans are.
When I started caring more about my own health and food choices I purchased free range eggs from the store and bought organic products (when I could afford it). But the sad truth is all animals, whether they are free range, organic, caged or factory farmed, end up at the same slaughterhouse.
I'm Tegan the vegan. This means I no longer consume any animal products including meat, fish, eggs, cheese, milk, etc. I also refrain from buying clothes, cleaning products, make up and more that come from animals or were tested on animals.
I've made the connection. It took me over a year to commit 100% to this lifestyle and that's okay. I'm still working on it now and learning more about veganism every day. Some people can go vegan overnight. I wasn't one of them. That doesn't make me any less of a person.
Animals, I'm sorry it took me so long.
If we won't drink dog's milk, why drink cow's milk? If puppy farms and caged chickens are considered cruel, how is raising cows for the slaughter OK?
Whether it's a pig, puppy, calf or goldfish, all animals deserve to be treated equally and loved and cared for.
I'm only two months into my vegan journey and already I feel so strongly about veganism.
I highly recommend you watch documentaries such as What the Health, Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives. Some of my favourite YouTubers are vegan including James Aspey, Ellen Fisher and Bonny Rebecca. Check them out and you'll see how healthy and happy people are on a vegan diet.
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Inaugural World Vegan Day Lunch at Parliament House