This is a question I am asked often. Today, I gave this some extra thought, as I talk to a coworker about what it takes to become vegan.
In all honesty, giving up animal products has been one of the easiest things I have ever done. All my life I was aware of how animals or mistreated, but I turned a blind eye to just how bad it really is.
While I went vegan for health reasons, I stay vegan for the animals and for the environment. It hurts my heart to think of all the suffering I contributed to with all my years of meat eating.
A few years ago, I visited a local dairy farm. One of the fellow visitors pointed to some very small hits off in the back of the barnyard. There were maybe 10 rows of these small black huts. The woman asked, “What are those small huts for? Is that where you keep the baby calves for veal?” The tour guide laughed awkwardly, and explained how the calves were kept in the huts to prevent them from being trampled by the adult cows.
I still think about this tour through the dairy yard to this day. I believed the tour guide’s explanation, at face value, for several years. Only after giving up animal products, was I able to understand how illogical his response was. Adult cows do not trample calves, and there is no reason to separate the baby cows from the mothers, but to take the milk for human consumption while the calves are denied their natural source of food.
These calves were kept in such small huts, that there was no room to turn around. For what other reason would these calves be restricted from movement, other than because they were soon to be sold for veal?
Now, when I see an animal cruelty video, I no longer block the images out. I accept what I see as reality, and understand that by consuming animal products, I am saying I am okay with the cruelty that takes place in factory farms. When I say no to consuming animal and animal products, I am taking a stand for the lives of animals who are unable to do so for themselves.
So, no. It is not hard for me to be compassionate. No, it is not hard for me to eat fruits, veggies and grains instead of flesh. No, it is not hard to not participate in the horrific animal abuses taking place all over the country and world. And, no, it is not hard to be vegan.