Every day, the lives of millions of animals are savagely ended by humans for our pleasure or entertainment or to satisfy some notion of “luxury.” Thankfully, more and more people are becoming aware of the ongoing industrialized cruelty to animals in our society. Documentaries such as Blackfish, Racing Extinction, The Cove, Earthlings, and so many more expose how the industries using animals for profit really treat them and what animals really have to go through. The vegan community is growing rapidly around the world. Here’s how I joined it.
— PETA Asia (@PETAAsia) August 2, 2016
From a very early age, I was fascinated by animals, but my deep love for them developed when I was 4—when a puppy named Kajtek joined our family. We quickly developed a strong bond and became inseparable. This friendship taught me to have compassion for animals, and I’m certain that if it weren’t for Kajtek, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
When I was a kid, my family would take me to the circus every year. I recall, when I was 9, watching a show with horses in which a woman was whipping them to force them to do tricks. I remember thinking that I didn’t like being at the circus at all. I didn’t want animals to be forced to do tricks. It all seemed senseless to me.
But the turning point for me came in 2013, when I paid a visit to distant family members living in southern Poland. They took me to an agricultural festival. To be honest, I was pretty excited about it at first.
That changed when I saw one of the “attractions,” which involved shearing a sheep in less than 60 seconds. I stood right next to the barrier, surrounded by a huge crowd, waiting for the “show” to begin. Someone dragged a sheep to a man, and the countdown began. Everyone started shouting and cheering. I was shocked as the man threw the sheep around. He didn’t seem to care at all that he was dealing with a living being. The only thing that mattered to him was finishing the task as quickly as possible. I have never seen so much fear in an animal’s eyes. It was inconceivable to me that this was considered entertainment. I saw the sheep’s muscles and bones being damaged. I looked around at all the people cheering with tears in my eyes. The sheep was clearly in pain, and I felt helpless.
Walking around the festival, still in shock after having seen the sheep be sheared so barbarically, I noticed a donkey with a sad look in his eyes. At this moment, a thought sprang into my head: We slaughter animals like this one for meat all the time. We kill animals, mince their bodies, and then eat them—someone else’s body, which used to be full of life. These animals wanted to live a long, happy life but, because of human actions, didn’t get the chance.
The thoughts would not stop, and the feeling of guilt only became stronger. I asked myself, “Who are we to decide for someone else whether they can or cannot live?” Animals are living beings, just like us. They have a heart, a brain, feelings, and desires—most of all, they desire to live. In that moment, I realized that I didn’t want to be a person who says, “I love animals,” but acts otherwise. I didn’t want to care for Kajtek while eating the bodies of other animals. I didn’t want to treat other animals any differently to the way I treated Kajtek.
That same day, I stopped eating meat.
After becoming a vegetarian, I would constantly look through websites about animal rights. One day, I randomly opened a webpage which exposed the truth about the dairy industry. At that moment, at the age of 19, I kept asking myself only one question: How did I not know this? I don’t remember ever being so confused. I could not believe that by buying dairy foods such as yogurt or cheese, we are actually responsible for killing animals. Every product that contains dairy ingredients involves the death of calves. This article made me realize that I wanted to have a clear conscience and needed to stop supporting animal exploitation of all kinds. It became so clear to me that I needed to go vegan. I stayed up all night researching information about vegan living, the milk and egg industries, and more facts about animal rights, which reassured me that going vegan was the right decision to make.
Each of these events contributed to my decision to change my lifestyle. I’ve been vegan now for nearly three years and have never felt better.
I often am confronted by people who claim that one vegan cannot make a difference. However, each vegan saves many animals per year, and there are millions of vegans all of the world—think of how many animals we’re already saving! Together, we’re making a significant difference every day. Whether you go vegan for animals, like I did, for the environment, or for your health, you have the power to change the world, simply by changing what’s on your plate.
Written by PETA Asia intern Agnes Piwowarczyk
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