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How I Became a Vegan Animal Rights Activist

Updated on May 2, 2010
Mercy For Animals billboard in Ohio
Mercy For Animals billboard in Ohio

Hi. I am a registered dietitian, and a vegan animal rights activitist. I hope to write many articles discussing the many angles of veganism, including the state of today's factory farms, animal suffering, nutrition, health, and environmental issues. I will begin by telling you how I became a vegan animal rights activist.

My Upbringing

I had a pretty traditional upbringing. Meat was a normal part of dinner most nights. My favorite meats were chicken and pork chops. While attending [college], I tried ribs for the first time, and I really liked them! Smothered in all that BBQ sauce, I’m sure I was a mess. I definitely had to ask for extra napkins!!

College

At a campus fair, I walked up to the vegetarian club’s info table. The woman staffing the table told me how egg laying chickens are crammed 6 at a time into tiny cages where they don’t even have enough room to spread their wings. In order to prevent injury and death from their stress-induced fighting, their sensitive beaks are seared off with a hot blade. She encouraged me to avoid contributing to this cruelty by adopting a vegan diet, one that contains no meat, dairy, and eggs.

I have to say, I was skeptical and irritated. I was studying to be a dietitian at the time, and I believed that we needed at least some animal products in our diets to be healthy. I thought this woman was irresponsible for telling people to eat this way. But her message about the abuse of animals stayed with me. Over the next few years, I would sometimes think back to our conversation.

What the American Dietetic Association says

Finally, I decided to do some research of my own. I’m a dietitian, so I wanted to see what the American Dietetic Association had to say about vegan diets. I already knew that a person can be healthy without eating meat, but I was very surprised to see the ADA’s position paper on vegetarian diets say that vegan diets are healthy for any stage of life, whether old or young, infant, pregnant, or lactating!

I could no longer use the argument that we had nutritional requirements for meat, eggs, or dairy. Even the ADA, which heavily promotes dairy products, agrees we don’t actually need them.

Animal Suffering

I did some internet research, and found out that the horrendous abuses of animals in factory farms are not isolated incidents, but actually are standard practices. For example, in the dairy industry, cows are treated like machines instead of living creatures. They are artificially inseminated each year, and their babies are taken from them within 24 hours of birth. The mother cow mourns the loss of her young. If the calf is male, he goes into a tiny veal crate, in the dark, where he is unable to move and is fed an iron deficient diet which makes him anemic, so that his meat will be white and tender. I had no idea that drinking milk supports the veal industry.

My Response

After learning about the cruelty, I decided I could not support these practices, and I adopted a vegan diet. I found some great substitutes for ice cream, cheeses, and meats, plus there are many awesome vegan cookbooks and websites. I learned that being vegan can be easy and taste great!

But it wasn’t enough for me to just give up animal products. I wanted to share with people this important information about where our food comes from. I discovered an animal rights group that wasn't very active in my area, and I really liked the work that they do. I decided that I wanted to be the regional coordinator, so that I could bring some awareness of these issues to my neck of the woods. And that's how it all began.

Poll

Were you aware that animals on factory farms suffer greatly?

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Comments

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    • profile image

      VEGETARIAN JAGATH 

      7 years ago

      "In nature,Non-vegetarians(Animals or birds) drink water by LICKING,where as Vegetarians drink by SIPPING.

    • profile image

      PWalker281 

      8 years ago

      You sound just like my daughter. She watched a PETA video at an Earth Day celebration in Washington DC when she was in high school back in the 90s. She was appalled and became a vegetarian (not a vegan, however) on the spot. And I was a vegetarian for about 8 years in the mid-70s to early 80s after hearing ex-comedian-turned-activist, Dick Gregory, speak at my college about the benefits of vegetarianism. I even went through a pregnancy as a vegetarian and breast fed my daughter for 18 months. Those were the days!

      We both are meat eaters again, but trying to make more conscious choices just the same.

    • HeatherVegRD profile imageAUTHOR

      HeatherVegRD 

      8 years ago

      LRCBlogger - Thanks! It's great that you are making dietary changes. I will try to post more on nutrition. It's true that free range animals suffer too. I will post more on that as well. Thank you for your comments! :-)

    • LRCBlogger profile image

      LRCBlogger 

      8 years ago

      American Romance, do you actually know any vegetarians? I would think your general statement is just another one of your routine comments that make you look sooo smart.

    • American Romance profile image

      American Romance 

      8 years ago from America

      How come vegetarians always seem sickly, pale skinned and ethiopean looking? try eating something with blood in it! it will do wonders! good luck in your endeavors. Go Lettuce!

    • LRCBlogger profile image

      LRCBlogger 

      8 years ago

      Nice hub, I hope you write more and especially focus on how to eat balanced and get proper nutrition while being a vegan. My wife and I cut out red meat and have been trying to cut out other animals. We eat mostly organic and buy free range chickens. (I've heard even free range don't have it so good).

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