I was an honor role student, in the school band, had just joined the girl scouts, and for some reason I needed to be different. I decided, along with one of my fellow girl scouts, to become a vegetarian.
As it turns out I was only "sort of" vegetarian. I still ate hot dogs and bologna. My middle school reasoning? They were just byproducts. I pretty much only gave up the food that I already hated, passing on things like mom’s meatloaf, steak, pork chops, hamburgers, and chicken. My mother believed that my being a vegetarian was just a phase.
It wasn’t until college that I finally gave up the last of the meat byproducts. That sacrifice was because of a boy! One day over college break a guy that I had just started dating asked me, via an AOL Instant Message, why I was vegetarian. The funny part is that I didn’t have an answer, but I wouldn’t let him know that. I quickly searched the internet for reasons why and sent him some links to PETA.com pages and videos. After watching the videos and reading the fact sheets we both became actual vegetarians.
The information I discovered that day sat with me, I knew I wanted to be vegan. I knew it was disgusting how farm animals were treated and I wanted to have no part in it. I made strides in the following years and managed to cut out all animal products but cheese. It wasn’t until my last year of college, when I was accepted for an internship with PETA, that I became a full fledged vegan. The months leading up to the internship were the perfect time for me to make the transition. As an intern I would be staying at PETA which did not permit animal products on their property.
One thing that helped my transition was that my then boyfriend (the same guy that followed me into vegetarianism) also decided to go vegan. We have long since gone our separate ways and married other people, both of us managed to "convert" our spouses to a vegan lifestyle. The four of us have become great friends and often venture out to new vegan restaurants together.
My views on animals and meat have changed over the years. I originally stopped eating meat and became a vegan due to how the animals were treated; I remain a vegan because animals do not need to be exploited or die for me -- no matter how they are treated.
Photo credit: TDIV