I became vegetarian very early in my childhood, because of my deep love for (nonhuman) animals, and also after watching a cartoon at school showing cows being “transformed” into burgers. I have always felt very close to animals. They have always fascinated me, and I thought there was so much to learn from them.
I am not sure children understand the concept of rights and ethics, but they understand compassion sometimes better than adults. I considered nonhuman animals as my friends and eating them was out of the question.

I grew up this way, not thinking any deeper about it, but believing that killing animals for their flesh, entertainment, etc was very unjust, pointless and also pretty revolting. At this time, there was no information, talks or debates about Animal Rights issues, and I did not know any other vegetarians, so it was difficult to be challenged.

It was only when I moved to Ireland that I noticed vegetarianism was pretty common. But still no sign of veganism, I was not even aware such a concept could exist.
The first Animal Rights table I saw was the A.F.A.R. (Alliance for Animal Rights) stall, at Westmorland St, and although it covered different subjects, I got stuck with the vivisection one, as I did not know the full horror of it.

Most vegetarians do not know that they are participating in animal slavery, although they like to say “I am against animal suffering”. The dairy and egg industries are totally based on slavery. Cows are raped and kept pregnant all their lives to produce milk, calves are taken away from their mothers to be killed for the “veal” industry. Female cows will follow the same path as their mothers. Hens are imprisoned all their short lives in awful conditions (that also includes free range status) so we can eat eggs. All animals who are enslaved for the milk and egg industries will join the ones used for their flesh to the slaughterhouse. There is nothing “animal friendly” about vegetarianism.

This information was not easily available years ago, although common sense would easily explain this if we put more thought into it. But I guess we all have been deeply conditioned since birth to not ask questions and just follow what the system tells us. “Milk is good for your bones”, so we drink milk. “Eggs are full of protein”, so we eat eggs.

I woke up from my conditioning one day, out of the blue, in a coffee shop. I looked around me and saw all these jars of milk on every table. My common sense kicked in, “where is all this milk coming from? There is milk everywhere!” Everything went very fast from that day, I went to the library and did some research on the dairy and egg industry. At the same time, I read in a magazine that Moby was a vegan, (the first time I had heard this term!). I found 1 or 2 books on veganism and after reading the books, the next morning, I ate a croissant, a pain au chocolat (they were my favourite foods when I was vegetarian), to say good bye and I went vegan straight after that.

Going vegan was not difficult at all, it was very exciting for me to know that at last, I was no longer participating in animal exploitation and slavery.
Cooking vegan was very easy, I just had to swap cow milk for soya/rice/oat milk and regarding eggs, I found out that there is absolutely no need for eggs to make great cakes, pies and flans!! Cheese? Too easy, blend some tofu with spices and oil and pour it on top of baked potatoes, pizza or lasagna, or whatever meal you want, put in the oven and there you go. Now, although there are great vegan cheese brands out there, I still prefer my tofu recipe.

Regarding my social life, nothing changed much, I did not care what others said to me, I knew I was doing the right thing. When you are confident with what you are doing, people are less likely to bother you.

Going vegan is the best thing I have ever done in my life, vegan food is delicious, healthy, the Vegan lifestyle is compassionate, respectful for the environment. But most of all, going vegan is a political act, it means you take responsibility for what you do, for what and who you support. No more hypocrisy, no more excuses. Nobody will be enslaved so I can live.