One day I woke up and found myself living in a different world. It was the day after I became vegan.
The streets looked different. Restaurants bustling with happy people made me feel isolated. Cafe counters chocked full of Dairy Farmer’s bottles conjured visions of beautiful cows with sorrowful eyes. Dogs on morning walks made me start to think about how many dead animals it takes to keep our pets alive. People looked the same, but also different. I never knew what I was contributing to. I wondered, did they?
The thing about becoming vegan, it is not comparable to deciding that you love a certain style of artwork and so ask a friend to join you at an exhibition. It’s not a preference. It’s excluding yourself from a system that contributes to mass suffering. It’s remembering those who are forgotten. It’s looking at all life forms and actually seeing life. And immediately you hope everyone else will see the same. But they don’t. It’s as if you are standing outside a burning building, hearing screams & cries from the inside, and while you frantically look for water and try to help, countless people just walk past. Some are vaguely aware of the flames, some seem to hear the cries, but most are oblivious to the fire completely. You think, how is that possible? Or is there something wrong with me?
Life goes on. Familiarity with the new world gradually sets in. Despair doesn’t subside until you become part of the solution, and you realise being vegan is the least we can do for our animal kin. You figure out that you can be of more benefit to others when you grow within yourself. Family, friends, anyone who is not vegan – it helps to interact with them with the same compassion that brought you to this point. Easier said than done – the horror in your head is mind numbing; but what is life anyway? Perhaps it has something to do with understanding, peace, and love without exception. But also forging new ways, with new people, is almost inevitable on this path.
Time passes, and sadly the building is still alight and the cries as loud as ever. But now you see kind faces at your side, feel a newfound stability within yourself, and have hope each day for this peace-filled emerging world. And thankfully, some have already been saved from the flames.