It started just like any ordinary day, but it was a day that changed my life forever. I was getting ready for work while watching The View. Alicia Silverstone was the guest and she mentioned that she was vegan. Honestly, at first it didn’t register. But then one of the hosts asked her why. She said she had dogs at home and loved them dearly. She said she’d made the connection: How could I love these animals but eat others? What’s really the difference between a dog and a pig or a dog and a cow?
That stayed with me. I’d always considered myself an animal lover and I adored my two cats. So later I grabbed my laptop and Googled Alicia Silverstone and veganism. From there I went down a rabbit hole and was led to all sorts of websites and videos showing how animals are raised for food. It was the first time I saw the horrors of factory farming.
After an hour or two of looking at some of the worst animal cruelty I could possibly imagine, I knew what I had to do: go vegan. I knew I didn’t want to support a broken system that treated animals as nothing more than commodities. And I instinctively knew that the horrific abuses I’d witnessed, many of which were considered standard industry practices, were plain wrong.
I went vegan that day.
In all honesty, it was pretty easy. Over the next few weeks, I taught myself how to do it. I got a few vegan cookbooks, discovered some great websites, and subscribed to a couple of podcasts. I also learned how to veganize dishes I often ate, like tuna salad sandwiches and chicken stir-fry. I also found some really great restaurants that were either all-vegan or offered amazing vegan options. I felt lighter—not because I was losing weight, but because I knew that every time I sat down to eat I was intentionally choosing food that didn’t come from suffering animals. It felt good. It felt like coming home.
My one regret is that I didn’t come to veganism sooner. I was 30 years old when I went vegan, well into my adulthood. And I’m still surprised it took that long for someone to challenge me on what I was eating. I had known, of course, that meat, dairy, and eggs came from animals. But I never thought about how they were produced or what animals went through before they got to my plate. Why? A part of it is definitely on me. But a big part is also on the meat, dairy, and egg industries that deceptively market their products.
It’s been over 11 years and I’ve never looked back. Going vegan has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Since I went vegan I’ve learned that eating a plant-based diet not only helps animals but improves your health and is a great move in fighting climate change.
If I could turn back time and go vegan earlier, I undoubtedly would. But I don’t beat myself up about it. To paraphrase Maya Angelou: When you know better, you do better. So now that you know, what will you do?