Too late now

Why am I a vegan?


I grew up being, from what I remember, a picky eater. I liked some things and just wouldn't try other things, I guess I just wanted to eat what I knew I liked. This eventually stopped being a problem and I ate pretty much anything, and became increasingly happy to try new things. This has been most of what I know for my whole life.

But now I'm a vegan and, its hard.

I think being a vegan has gotten substantially easier over the years (I still consider myself a recent convertee). But I'm not really talking about the things you can and can't buy in the shop.

The thing I think I have difficulty with at the moment comes from the experience of being surrounded by people eating meat, and to some varying extent other non-vegan things.

My journey to becoming vegan started with the carbon literacy project. I participated in a series of intro lectures during the COVID-19 pandemic. These were around some basic concepts for understanding the climate change situation, what causes it, where those things come from, how much of a problem each kind of thing can be. When we got to the food and drink part, I strongly agreed with the point: there is a heavy skew when looking at CO2e coming from our food and drink consumption. That skew comes, for me at least at the time, primarily around ruminant meats.

So, easy, I'll just stop eating ruminant meats. I did, I haven't had them in a (seemingly) long time now, and don't really miss them. Gradually I tried to reduce other parts of my diet that were high contributors to CO2e, so cow milk became oat milk, I gave tofu a try, and I started paying attention to packaging a bit more.

I was happy with my decision, and supported as it was easy to explain and not too strict (I would, for instance, still eat chicken).

Then, about a year later, I heard about this thing called Effective Altruism (EA). I did their intro fellowship, then their in-depth fellowship. I really engaged with a lot of things but at the time of doing the fellowships struggled to feel motivated for the causes at a deeper level than the logical reasoning. I decided to go more into veganism with my diet, based on the animal welfare angle, and ended up going fully vegan.

Over time, not even having that many discussions, but gradually, it began to sink into the deeper level. This notion that by being vegan I'm not just choosing to not eat meat, or drink milk, but I'm choosing to truly value something, another non-human animal. Not just that, but en masse. It became harder to make the decision to do something non-vegan to a level of being, not difficult, but awkward.

There is always the feeling that I don't want to explain and justify my ethical framework over a restaurant choice.

I've luckily had great friends who happen to have changed some of their stances too to be more vegetarian, making things much easier, and I guess we're all used to checking restaurant menus for vegan options now.

But something still keeps changing. I wouldn't describe myself as comfortable at meal times now when there is a large amount of non-vegan food. I typically feel more strongly about this when the meat is a central part of the dish, and on show for it. It just brings it very strongly to my mind. And in that moment, I feel like I just have to take a breath.

Given all of this, there are times when a vegan option is not available, or vegan is not even a thing. And I do just go with what's on offer, I understand the situation, previously being able to put the vegan thing on hold for good reason. But I no longer think that when I have to do this I will be comfortable at the meal if it has a central meat portion.

Maybe this will mean that I might say no to some social events if they are aimed around this, I hope I won't, but I'm not sure any more and I'm starting to be OK with that.

Meanwhile, Christmas is racing up to knock on the door, with a nice central bird...