My path to veganism goes back two generations, as both my mum and her mum are lifelong vegetarians, and big advocates for compassionate living.
My nan was born and raised in Southern India with an eclectic mix of non-human animals – she has many fond memories of the lizards, chickens and dogs that she would call her friends and extended family.
My mum and her friends were very active in protesting for animal rights during the 80s, and naturally I grew up believing that vegan and vegetarian foods where staples within the household – even though I was not raised on a specific diet and the rest of my family ate animal products.
I chose to become vegetarian when I was 7 years old after watching an episode of The Simpsons. If you’re a fan of the show or watched it when it was in it’s prime (the 90s, obviously!) you’ll probably remember the episode called “Lisa the Vegetarian”, where, after seeing lambs at a zoo Lisa refuses to eat meat and is ridiculed by her dad and friends. For some reason, this episode had a profound impact on my 7-year-old brain (I was also a massive Lisa fan!) and I lived as a vegetarian until I reached my teenage years.
Like many, in my teens, I gave up on a lot of what my child-self had loved – and I gave up on my vegetarianism. But it was only the highly processed foods I could manage – nuggets, peperami and frankfurters, and only when out of the house. Anything even slightly resembling an animal would turn my stomach and the sight of animal bone, blood or hair would send a shiver down my spine. Deep down, I knew eating animals was wrong, and these feelings would soon come to surface.
In January 2014 I found myself a bit directionless. At 22 most of my friends had finished University and started their new and exciting jobs all around the world. I was living at home and quite frankly lost.
That was until I watched a YouTube video that my vegan friend had shared called “101 reasons to go vegan” – when the 70-minute video had ended, something clicked, just like with The Simpsons episode 15 years before. The only way I can describe it is it felt like my whole life I had my head in the clouds, and now I could see clearly. I changed to a vegan diet overnight and through the next few years learned different ways to live my life without exploiting animals.
My child-self had awoken. Seven months later, I started my BSc in Animal Science, and after this, I studied my MSc in Food Policy. Both led me to by job at The Vegan Society. Had I not found the video and made the decision to live vegan, I would have never found the passion I desperately needed for change.
Seven-year-old me would be so proud of the decisions I made along the way to get here. Veganism makes me feel connected to something much larger than myself, which is invaluable at times where it can all feel a bit much. These days, I am so grateful to have a job where I never feel directionless. This isn’t about me, or my ego, it’s for the animals.
Plus, after 55 years of living as a vegetarian, I’m really proud to say that my mum, who started me off on this journey, has been influenced by myself to go fully vegan. The circle of life!
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