I spent 7 years transitioning from pescatarian to vegetarian and finally to vegan. This transition was the result of education. At 10 years old, I didn’t realize the secrets hidden behind pristinely packaged animal products, but the more I learned, the more I was able to adjust my actions to fit my morals. At first, I didn’t connect the dots between the food on my plate and the animals I loved, but as I became more educated, I was horrified by all the things that had been kept a secret from me.
I didn’t, however, cut all animal products from my diet at the flip of a switch, and I didn’t learn everything I know now overnight. I didn’t even understand or know anything about the majority of the problems within the industry until years after I first made the decision to go pescatarian, and to be completely honest, I’m still learning new things every day. There’s a quote by Maya Angelou that goes, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.” I believe wholeheartedly that every activist should take this quote to heart. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in feeling guilty about choices you made in the past when you didn’t know any better. There are still days I get down on myself for taking such a long time to make the switch to a vegan lifestyle, but I just must remind myself that it is so much more important to look forward and realize that now that I know about the injustices going on daily, I have the power to make a difference and speak up for those who are treated so incredibly unfairly.
I’m not sure if I can pinpoint exactly when it finally clicked for me that what I thought was normal for so long, was actually wrong and completely against everything I stood for, but one of the first times I began to make the connection was at the dinner table, eating with my family. We were all sitting there on an average day, enjoying an average dinner. Without meaning any harm, my dad made a joke about how once our backyard chickens stopped laying, they’d be dinner. Of course, this shocked me. I thought, “How in the world could anyone ever even think to kill and eat my chickens?”, and that’s when it finally started to dawn on me that that was exactly what I was doing at that very moment. There was no difference between the chickens on my plate and the ones in my backyard, or my dog for that matter. They are all sentient, feeling, and innocent beings that are just as deserving of life as anyone else. From that point forward, things got clearer, and that blind eye I had turned for so long began to see the truth. It was a slow process, and while I wish I had become vegan sooner, I can’t say I regret the way things happened.
Now I know a lot more than I did before and it feels so good to recognize that with every meal I eat, the clothes I wear, and the things I buy, I’m actively making a difference. It’s easy to feel like you don’t have a voice, especially as a youth, but every dollar you spend is a vote, and even the little choices you make can have a huge impact on the world around you. We all go through life differently, but no matter what you’re fighting for, remember you have a voice and the power to stand in the way of injustice.
You have the ability to educate people and inspire others to live more compassionately, become an advocate for those without a voice, and to join a movement that is better for you, the earth, and the animals!