The term vegan was coined in England in 1944 by Donald Watson, co-founder of the UK Vegan Society, to mean “non-dairy vegetarian”; the society also opposed the consumption of eggs. In 1951 the society extended the definition of veganism to mean “the doctrine that man should live without exploiting animals,” and in 1960 H. Jay Dinshah started the American Vegan Society, linking veganism to the Jain concept of ahimsa, the avoidance of violence against living beings. (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veganism)
I became vegan in 1980 (I’d been a vegetarian for the previous 10 years) after realising just how cruel the dairy & egg farming industries were and that my ethical and moral stance against animal cruelty and exploitation was clearly not 100%.
For me, first and foremost, veganism is an ethical lifestyle, a choice of compassion and non-violence towards all animals, all humans, and the planet as a whole. The choice between consuming animals or being vegan is not just a simple matter of preference, such as you may prefer the flavour of chocolate ice-cream but I think strawberry ice-cream tastes better (non-dairy of course!), because there are victims involved here, a terrible cost to both animals and humans. Living, breathing, and feeling victims who each deserve the right to live a free life without fear of enslavement, abuse, cruelty, food deprivation, or early death.
By supporting the animal food industry, all carnivores/omnivores not only condone the slaughter of over 60 billion land and sea animals each and every year (speciesism), they are also indirectly linked as an accomplice/accessory to the manslaughter of over 20,000 children who die each and every single day from starvation. Children who will never get the chance to fulfil their dreams, or ambitions, or will never be able to live a creative life which just may have been of benefit to everyone else on the planet. We’ll never know.
What we do know is that we grow enough plant foods to feed every man, woman, and child, each and every single day – but we choose instead to feed the vast proportion of the grain we produce to animals, instead of directly for human consumption, which is a disgraceful waste of food resources. And all this just to satisfy human taste buds with the flesh and excretions of animals – even though the many thousands of plant foods that nature has provided for us are nutrient rich and taste delicious too.
Animal agriculture for human food consumption also has a massively negative impact on the global environment, such as deforestation – the destruction of the ‘lungs’ of the planet (it’s reported that an area of rainforest the size of seven football fields is destroyed every minute to make room for grazing cattle which are then slaughtered for meat) and, not forgetting, animal agriculture is one of the main causes of illness in humans via zoonotic diseases.
My hope for this website is that it may just help persuade non-vegans to search deep into their hearts and selflessly think about what a compassionate lifestyle veganism has to offer everyone during our all-to-brief journey on planet Earth.
Please let compassion be your over-riding guide through life and not your taste buds.