When I was three years old, I would point to my plate and ask my parent's, "Was this alive?" While they didn't divulge, or even know all the truths of how that animal had landed on my plate for me to eat, they didn't lie. "Yes, that was alive." I would push my plate away. Thinking that I wouldn't be healthy without the proteins of animals, my parents tried their hardest to sway my stubbornness. They even tried to pay me to eat McDonald's burgers and nuggets. By age six, I was set in my ways and could no longer be bought to eat something I just couldn't comprehend as a form of food. Growing up, I was always skeptical of my parents and even more so, of society's way of bringing me up to believe that I would not be healthy, nor normal until I ate meat. As a young woman, I spoke to nutritionists and learned that I was completely healthy and I became angry that society had lied to me for so long.
I just couldn't understand how the people I respected most in my life could choose to live so ignorantly, doing something everyday of their life without understanding the truths behind it.
My anger was replaced with understanding, when in 2015, I finally clicked into a video online about how we get our dairy products. I had seen titles of videos similar to this for a couple of years, but never clicked into them because my diet was 80% dairy. To milk, cheese, and chocolate; I was addicted. To my horror, I realized 20 years of not eating animals did not save them from pain and suffering. By drinking milk with each meal, I was putting animals through some of the worst existences imaginable. Somehow, some way, I was able to compartmentalize those images and I continued eating dairy for an ENTIRE YEAR. It's that year, that allows me to empathize with my parents, with my friends, with all of society that I was angry at for eating meat. I got it. I knew better and yet I persisted by being able to access a basement in my brain where I could throw that knowledge and forget about it while I ate my extra cheesy pizza with a tall glass of milk. I am so fortunate that the basement door wasn't locked forever and people and experiences came into my life that reminded me of the truth I already possessed.
I have been a vegan since Feb 2016 and promise to myself and to you that I will never shove the truth of the meat and dairy industries into the basement of my brain. I will not claim to be superior, nor perfect. For example, I can't bring myself to type into google, "Is Stella vegan?" I will also not judge you for hiding from the truth, but I will challenge you to stop listening to the influential voices outside, assuming that you know all there is to know about your eating habits and turn inward because your gut already knows best. Become more informed and then try your hardest to listen to the voice inside and live the way you feel called.