What 'vegan' means to me

Vegan, a five letter word which to me represents hope and so much personal change. A year and a half ago I, a sixteen year old living in the suburbs, finishing year ten, decided to stop eating animal products. I can feel the look of questioning you are showing while reading this, thinking why I would give up steak and God forbid, even cheese. Before my sanity comes into question, I think it is needed for me to question yours first, if by making one change to yourself you would become healthier, reduce your carbon footprint and overall participation to global warming, stop supporting violent corporations while saving an animals life everyday, would you do it? To me I didn't consider this a question but rather a wake up call for me to actually do something and start give a damn about the environment around me.

I was brought up around the world in different country's. I saw more places in my first six years of life than most people do in their lifetime but as my family of five settled down here in Australia all my past memories became less important. All the dreams five year old me dreamt of, slipped away as I grew up, the want to care for others became a distant feeling that detached from me through years of going to school and worrying about boys. When I first read what the definition of Vegan was I laughed at the "madness" of these people, people who weren't letting society subscribe them the construct of how to eat to be a normal functioning human in society. I took a step back, the way you do with paintings to grasp the entire concept that is being presented in this physical representation of someone's idea, in this case it was represented in peoples lives. This needs to be done to grasp what vegan or veganism presents, it seems as if the idea is constructed on one change, a change in diet and only your diet. But taking a step back you can see it is so much more. Being vegan is seen as a extreme vegetarian but the fact is that vegan and vegetarian lifestyles aren't relative, because the motives behind being vegan is conscious in all aspects. Let me repeat that, being vegan is a lifestyle change not just a diet change.

Change is something that should be appreciated and veganism was a change in mindset that I never even knew about. I know this sounds dramatic but here is one thing that will always resonate with me no matter what point in life I am at, why do you want to wear another living creatures skin? A living being that feels pain just like you and me, an animal with the want to live, so why do I want to buy and wear its skin? It started off with small thoughts like this which eventually tumbled all together and created a totally different perspective, it was like putting on brand new glasses. So looking back at the day sad sixteen year old me realising what I could do to affect so many things around me by changing one thing, I became eternally thankful for discovering such a positive lifestyle. Whether the word vegan resinates with you on a sour note or it is meaningless to you, I want people to know I was exactly like that but now it resonates with me in a deep thankfulness and I hope someday more people will understand this same feeling that I am lucky enough to know.

In these three paragraphs I hope you were able to grab a glimpse of what being vegan means to me and how it is so much more than just a trendy diet.

Love from Australia,

Zoe xx