Five years ago today, I came home from work and sat at my computer. I’d been vegetarian for four years and in recent months had been really transitioning away from dairy and eggs. I was consuming very little and writing even less about it (readers of the Veg Blog thought I was vegan long before I actually was), but I hadn’t made the firm commitment to completely forgo all animal products. This night, something wasn’t sitting well with me as I thought about it. It was the eve of my 29th birthday and I wasn’t quite sure what was holding me back.
For some reason, I watched Meet Your Meat. I may or may not have watched it before and I’d surely seen similar footage a dozen times since I went vegetarian. But something about this viewing on this night was different. I finished the short video and declared to myself (my wife hadn’t returned home from work yet), “I’m done. No more messing around. I’m vegan now.” And I never looked back.
I’ve been vegan now for longer than I was vegetarian. That feels significant. I think it’s because the only regret I have is that I didn’t go vegan sooner, that I messed around for so long, avoiding the commitment.
Over those five years, my outlook on things has changed significantly. I’ve become much more aware of how connected our exploitation of animals is to our exploitation and mistreatment of humans and the environment. My views on the role of animal welfare activism have changed. Most certainly, my tastes have changed and I’m eating and enjoying foods I wouldn’t have touched ten years ago. My relationship with animals (of all species) has changed. I’ve made some of the most incredible friends and acquaintances in “the movement,” people that inspire me with their words and actions every single day. I have an amazing family, including a daughter we’ve raised vegan from birth. And though I still have days where I feel cynical and hopeless about the way things are, most of the time I’m filled with hope, knowing that even if we don’t completely eliminate the use of animals in my lifetime, there are a lot of good people out there and things are changing.
Five years isn’t long in the grand scheme of things, I realize, but I know I’ll never go back. There’s lots to be done and five years is just a start.
As the Roots Radics said: forwards ever, backwards never.
(Also, happy 5-year veganversary to Lindsay at Vegan Chai, who remembers every year that we went vegan on the same day. This year, it’s my turn to remember!)