I went veg in 1982, toward the end of the year. Initially I joined my older daughter’s decision to move to vegetarianism because I had been having difficulties digesting meat, primarily beef. She said she did not want to eat animals any more because she did not want to be responsible for their deaths.
I was 36 (she was six). There was no Internet, no web.
Yet over the coming months I learned a lot about vegetarianism and animal rights, and it wasn’t long before my focus shifted from health to animal rights. I learned about factory farms, about experiments on animals, about fur, seal killing, whale hunting. I learned of all the animal issues that still exist.
When I look back I am not sure how I got started. I started subscribing to Vegetarian Times and I think this magazine had a large influence on me. Through editorials and ad pages I found out about People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and other animal organizations. I found books to read, most notably John Robbins’ Diet for a New America.
Initially our little family still ate chicken and fish. I remember the trips to Colonel Sanders and I wonder now, did I buy chicken at the store or reserve it for take-out only? Either way, we soon stopped eating the chickens. We learned about debeaking and crowded conditions and the horrors of life as a factory-farmed chicken. It took a little longer for us to stop eating fish.
I remember carrying around all this knowledge and realizing that I was one of the few. I knew few people who were aware of the deplorable factory farms, the seal hunts, the whaling, the eating of dogs in Korea. When I mentioned any of these issues to friends they didn’t want to hear it. Or worse, they simply refused to believe any of it.
But they can’t hide any more. The information is out there and I rarely come across a person who does not know about it. The web, with youtube and similar services, has brought the story home to millions. It is a lot easier now to get the word out. Now if we can only get folks to listen.