Life as a Vegan
Going Vegan and Growing as a Vegan
You’ve got all the information you need to go vegan right now: the moral reasons, the practical ins-and-outs, the nutritional guidelines, and a bunch of handy recipes. You can go vegan today—this very minute. Once you’ve decided to become vegan, you’ll quickly see how fulfilling it can be to live a life oriented toward nonviolence and fairness.
Going vegan isn’t complicated, but it can be transformative. Many people describe their transition to veganism as part of a broader moral awakening, during which they become more aware of and concerned with how their actions and inactions affect the rest of the world. Once you start looking, it’s hard not to see how your purchases, habits, and choices influence the world around us.
While seeking to remove animal use from your life, you’ll also begin to notice just how pervasive animal use is in our societies. Animals and animal products seem to be in everything: not just in the obvious places, but in food colorings, in (so-called) “natural” flavorings, in the linings of synthetic jackets, in paints and paint brushes, in movies and television shows, and so on. The list goes on and on. It seems never-ending.
“You can go vegan today—this very minute.”
In light of this, some people find the prospect of completely avoiding animal use daunting. Newly committed to veganism, a person might ask: “Can I really avoid animal use? What am I supposed to do?”
Here’s the short answer: just make the commitment to veganism and start moving forward.
As you go, you’ll learn more. And as you learn more, you’ll continue to grow in your choices and habits. Next year, you may learn about a form of animal use that you’re completely unaware of today. That’s okay—you’ll be able to adapt as you come across new information.
Right now, you don’t need to worry about what you’ll learn ten months from now. Today, you can only worry about today. And today you should be vegan.
Should I Donate Money?
After becoming vegan, many people are eager to do more to help animals. In particular, many people want to help out by sending their money to the major animal-protection organizations. It’s a nice thought and intention, but it’s important to look before you leap.
The large animal advocacy organizations will typically say that you can help animals by donating your money to them. They will tell you that they are working hard to reduce animals’ suffering and to change laws, and they will promise that your donations will allow them to continue their important work. Some will even tell you that you can continue to use and consume animals.
For more information on this topic, visit the IVA website (internationalvegan.org) and read the position paper entitled Why Does The IVA
We urge you to think critically before giving your money to conventional animal-protection organizations. By and large, these organizations do more harm than good. They pursue meaningless welfare reforms and cheer
for “humane” standards that do nothing to help animals. They encourage people to become “vegetarian” and they make consumers feel better about using and eating animals. They engage in sensationalistic marketing campaigns that are more about promoting their brand than about changing the world. You should exercise caution before giving your money away to any advocacy organizations.
Happily, if you want to do more to help animals after becoming vegan, there are some wonderful things you can do.
Fostering, Adopting, Sanctuaries
One of the best things you can do after becoming vegan is use your time and resources to provide love, care, and medical attention to animals in need.
Your work may take many different forms. For example, you might serve as a foster guardian for an animal shelter, helping out dogs and cats with special needs. Or you might offer a permanent home to a rescued budgie, fish, cat, dog, or hamster. Or you could spend some of your weekend helping out at a local organization that provides rehabilitation services for injured free-living animals. Alternatively, you could donate some of your time or money to a nearby sanctuary that takes care of cows, pigs, goats, or birds who have been rescued from the animal agriculture industry. There are countless ways that you can make a real difference in the lives of animals.
Some vegans worry that taking care of domesticated animals is misguided, because domestication is wrong. It’s true that domestication is wrong. As vegans, we are working to create a world where humans no longer breed and use animals at all. We should discourage animal use and domestication in all forms, and we should openly oppose the “pet” industry and the animal agriculture industry. If we do our jobs well, someday there will be no domesticated animals at all.
However, we’re obligated to care for the animals who we have already brought into the world and who now depend on us. We can’t turn our backs on them. Fostering, adopting, and helping out at shelters and sanctuaries are all important forms of work.
For more information on this topic, visit the IVA website (internationalvegan.org) and read the position paper entitled What Do IVA Advocates Do?
Educating Yourself, Educating Others
The single most important thing you can do if you want to change the world is talk to others about veganism and respecting animals.
As long as animals are pieces of property, and as long as people view animals as things that can be used and discarded, we will continue to cause vast and unending amounts of unnecessary harm, suffering, and death. To change the world, we need to begin building a movement of thoughtful, peaceful, committed vegans who refuse to participate in animal use.
Educating others is easy. You don’t need to be an expert, you don’t need to have any diplomas or degrees, and you don’t need to spend a cent. All you have to do is go out into the world and begin telling other people what you know.
It’s best to begin by educating yourself. You might consider joining a local or online discussion group about animal rights (including one of the groups organized by the International Vegan Association) or you might consider organizing your own discussion group. As you get more comfortable thinking and talking about veganism and animal use, you’ll become more comfortable sharing your knowledge with others.
Use your strengths and talents to speak to others about veganism. Some people enjoy running information stands in public markets and at festivals, where they can share plant-based treats and talk to others about veganism. Other people have found success in organizing public lectures and debates, both of which can lead to excellent follow-up discussions. If you enjoy writing, you can make a huge difference by writing letters to periodicals which, if printed, may be read by many thousands of people. And, of course, there’s no better place to begin educating others than within your network of friends, family, and colleagues.
If tens of thousands of us across the world creatively and peacefully educate others about veganism and what we owe animals, we can accomplish more in a generation than has been accomplished through decades (and hundreds of millions of dollars) of animal “welfare” and “humane” reform work.
If we commit to veganism, educate ourselves, and begin educating others, we can build a world where we’re living up to our own values and where we’re doing what’s right.
Let’s get started.
This page is a reproduction of a section of the booklet Vegan Starter Kit: Respecting Animals Means Going Vegan published by the International Vegan Association. Images and formats might differs from the original booklet.
The Vegan Starter Kit: Respecting Animals Means Going Vegan booklet is published by the International Vegan Association. Readers are welcome to reproduce articles from the original publication in their entirety and with attribution for personal or educational use without additional permission. Material may not be reproduced for resale without prior arrangement with the IVA. © International Vegan Association, 2017. For additional resources or to contact the IVA, visit internationalvegan.org.
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