Going Veg

EVEN Interviews

Read ALL of EVEN's Exclusive Interviews


Non-violence Compassion Sustainability

--- EVEN - Serving as
a vegan resource
since 2005 ---

Veg Spotlight

Going vegan makes sense. Once you have all the information, going vegan is the obvious answer.
Robert - EVEN Webmaster, Co-Founder and Deep Ecologist

Veg Spotlight

"Going vegan is the best thing one can do to help stop animal suffering, protect the environment and safeguard one's own health. I want to share this wonderful feeling with everybody I know." - Esha Gupta, actress and staunch animal rights supporter and new vegan

Veg Spotlight

I became vegan because I did not want animals to suffer and die for my appetite. - Karen Davis, PhD

Read EVEN's exclusive interview with Karen Here.

Vegan Peace

Reasons for Being Vegan

Veg Wisdom

Once a person takes a hard look at the unnecessary horrific suffering and death that we impose on non-human animals in so many ways - food being the worst - they are usually utterly horrified and disgusted at the idea of supporting any animal exploitation, especially as food. They then try to avoid using them in any way directly or indirectly as far as is practicably possible. THAT is a vegan lifestyle....There is no such thing as a "part-time vegan". No-one in their right mind would decide that it's somehow okay to impose unnecessary suffering and death on innocent sentient animal victims "part-time". - Bon-Flynt, Stranger Things Have Happened

Veg Wisdom

I don't understand why asking people to eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet is considered drastic, while it is medically conservative to cut people open and put them on cholesterol-lowering drugs for the rest of their lives. - Dean Ornish, Physician, Surgeon, Founder of Preventive Medicine Research Institute, and Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California - San Francisco

Veg Wisdom

Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world. - Desmond Tutu, South African Activist and Christian Cleric (1931 - )

Veg Spotlight

Kyrhya - EVEN volunteer

Veg Wisdom

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. - William James, American Psychologist and Philosopher (1842-1910)

Veg Wisdom

I am vegetarian so I don't have clothes, shoes, or bags made from leather or suede or any animal products... I'm on a mission. [On working with PETA] The fact that I have the opportunity to speak out about the things that I believe in and that maybe someone will listen, I feel, is the biggest honor. - Lea Michele, Glee actress

Veg Wisdom

The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man. - Charles Darwin

Veg Wisdom

In fact, if one person is unkind to an animal it is considered to be cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people. - Ruth Harrison, Animal Machines

Veg Wisdom

I know, in my soul, that to eat a creature who is raised to be eaten, and who never has a chance to be a real being, is unhealthy. It's like...you're just eating misery. You're eating a bitter life. - Alice Walker (1944 - ), Pulitzer Prize Winner

Veg Wisdom

For hundreds of thousands of years the stew in the pot has brewed hatred and resentment that is difficult to stop. If you wish to know why there are disasters of armies and weapons in the world, just listen to the piteous cries from the slaughterhouse in the midnight. - Ancient Chinese verse written by monk

Veg Wisdom

I have been a vegetarian since I was 11, and I eat organic , and my belief is that all these things are tied together. - Daryl Hannah

Veg Wisdom

Now I can look at you in peace; I don't eat you any more. - Franz Kafka (1883-1924)

Veg Wisdom

I am a vegan now, and it was a conscious decision. I studied a lot about African culture and health and the best way to take care of the body. I really wanted to be healthy. At first I was just trying to challenge myself; I thought it was a phase and that I would grow out of it, but it wasn't. I found out a lot about the body and what [hormones] they put in meat. My taste buds started changing, and I didn't crave [meat and dairy products] anymore. - Brandy

As Featured In:

~ 24 Carrot Award (Vegetarians in Paradise)

~ Vegan Awareness Year (Mayoral Proclamation, City of Eugene)

~ American Vegan Magazine (American Vegan Society)

~ Volunteer of the Year (United Way)

Become a Member

Click to support EVEN!

Please visit our sponsors!
Click on their logos below.

Veg Spotlight

Shop to Support EVEN

Use AmazonSmile for your purchases and Amazon will donate to EVEN!

Click HERE

Veg Spotlight

I became a vegetarian as a young child, at a time when it was very unpopular, no books were available on the subject, soymilk and tofu were unheard of, and I knew of no other vegetarians. My motivation was based solely on what was imprinted on my heart: that it was wrong to kill animals for food. - Jo Stepaniak

Read EVEN's exclusive interview with Jo HERE.

Veg Spotlight

Eric - EVEN Supporter and Activist

Veg Spotlight

You don't have to be 100% perfect. Being vegan is a goal you progress towards. - Freya Dinshah

Read EVEN's exclusive interview with Freya HERE.

Veg Wisdom

My impulse came from a documentary about rastros, which is what they call slaughterhouses in Mexico. And in this documentary, you could see the cruelty that the animals suffered and the way in which they kill them and how they leave them to bleed out. And from that moment on, I decided to stop eating them. Animals are our brothers, and we can't keep using them and causing them pain. - Ruben Albarran, Singer, Cafe Tacuba

Veg Wisdom

Veganism is not a limitation in any way; it's an expansion of your love, your commitment to nonviolence, and your belief in justice for all. - Gary Francione, JD

Veg Wisdom

You simply can't have a 99 cent Big Mac without destroying the rest of the world and your health along with it. - Dan Piraro

Veg Wisdom

The great advantage of having a clear conscience and believing that scientists must now accept conscience as part of the scientific equation. - Donald Watson, Founder of Vegan Society (UK) (1910 - 2005) when asked about the easiest part of being vegan.

Veg Wisdom

Thousands of people who say they 'love' animals sit down once or twice a day to enjoy the flesh of creatures who have been utterly deprived of everything that could make their lives worth living and who endured the awful suffering and the terror of the abattoirs. - Dr. Jane Goodall, British Primatologist (1934 - )

Veg Wisdom

We have to change the way people think about animals. I encourage the Tibetan people and all people to move toward a vegetarian diet that doesn't cause suffering. - The Dalai Lama

Veg Wisdom

Each man is haunted until his humanity awakens. - William Blake

Veg Wisdom

Ginnifer Goodwin

For most of my life I naively lived on cheeseburgers, macaroni and cheese, and chicken nuggets...>>MORE

Veg Wisdom

I have been following a vegan diet now since the 1980s, and find it not only healthier, but also much more attractive than the chunks of meat that were on my plate as a child. - Dr. Neal Barnard, President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)

Read Dr. Barnard's story at the bottom of this page.

Veg Wisdom

Life is full of choices, and many years ago, I chose to become a vegetarian, and it was one of the best choices I've ever made. - Forest Whitaker

Veg Spotlight

I also became a vegetarian when I was 14 because I realized eating animals was cruel. - Julia Butterfly Hill

Read EVEN's exclusive interview with Julia Here.

Going Veg > Why I Went Veg

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.   - John Quincy Adams

Everyone has a unique story to tell about why they went vegan. Most of us can even remember the exact moment or circumstances! If you are thinking of making the switch, or if you're just curious why others have, the various accounts that follow might provide inspiration and insight.

(Feel free to submit your own personal story to us, too!)

About four years ago, Oscar-winning director James Cameron began an all-vegan diet. A long-time environmental advocate, Cameron made the change explicitly to help save the planet, namely by lowering his carbon footprint, but the record-setting deep-sea diver also found that it drastically improved his health, what he calls "a win-win." Here, in his own words, is why he has kept it up.

The great thing about this as a solution for climate change — one of a number of solutions that we need — is that it's a win-win. You're going to be healthier, you're going to live longer, you're going to look better. You're going to have fewer zits. You're going to be slimmer. You're going to radiate health. You're going to have a better sex drive. That's what shifting away from meat and dairy does.

My whole family did this, and we're doing spectacularly well from a health standpoint. I have not had a single sniffle, not a flu, not a cold, nothing that's taken me offline as much as an hour in three and a half years. Now, that's either the biggest, craziest, statistical anomaly in history, or there's a strong causal relationship with this profound diet change that we did.

Culture, Diet, and Longevity
The blue zones [five regions around the world that researchers have identified as having the highest concentrations of centenarians in the world] prove this diet works. You have people from separate cultures who aren't related to each other in any way, but what they all have in common is they eat very little meat and they eat diets high in plants. They also do other things like they move naturally all day long. They don't go to a gym three times a week for an hour and think that that's going to offset the 12 hours of sloth sitting at a desk in front of a screen or sitting at home playing video games. So there's a whole constellation of things that make you a centenarian in these blue zones, but the one resounding common element is they eat mostly plants, and I took this to heart three and a half years ago and went 100 percent plant-based.

The Problem with Paleo
People want that assurance because they hear about the Paleo diet and the Atkin's diet, and you're supposed to eat a big stack of pork chops every day, so there's a lot of controversy out there. If you've got the appetite for it, read The China Study, which is a big thick book, or get the download Forks Over Knives, which is a simple short documentary that spells out the health issues and how it was discovered that plant-based eating is so much better for you.

Easing Into It
One way to go vegan is to slowly cut down on your meat consumption and learn how to either source or make good, tasty plant-based meals, and that takes a little bit of time. There's another technique that I recommend, which is to go cold turkey for a short period of time. Just go 100 percent plant-based for 21 days. You'll have to stock up on vegetables and get a cookbook or buy some frozen plant-based meals at the grocery store. We went cold turkey and never looked back. But I said to my wife when we agreed to do this that I hold the right to have a prime rib or a T-bone steak if I want to. And what I found was after a month I just simply didn't want it. I never wanted it again, because your brain reprograms itself.

—As told to John Gaudiosi for Men's Journal

It's a newer world regarding the consciousness of animals and veganism. I made the connection when I was 15 years old, in the 1970s; the lamb "chop" on my plate - the lamb in the field. That was it - no more eating animal corpses. A few years later, someone explained to me the connection of "dairy" and eggs to the meat industry. I was immediately vegan.

Relatives said I was going to waste away......

Fast forward forty plus years:
sadly things have changed slowly, too slowly to prevent mind-boggling amounts of misery and atrociously painful lives of billions of animals. As well as the millions of people who ate animals and their body-products, and got terrible illnesses.

Optimism has been difficult to come by over the years. What I would tell a new vegan is that there is more awareness now - therefore more cause for optimism. So, treasure hope when you find it.

When someone you know goes vegan, when you go to a vegan potluck, when you protest animal slavery, when there are vegan alternatives available; remember hope. Keep the good fight close to your heart; the optimism of a compassionate, sustainable Earth for all.

Treasure support from health professionals. Treasure and support the people who rescue animals, and influence them to recognize all species as having the right to live. Speak to those that are not yet vegan; about their health, their family's health, that it is unnecessary to eat animals, that they do not need to participate in horrific animal suffering.

Never miss an opportunity to vegucate. Tell yourself and everyone who will listen that it's great to be vegan! Be a living example of compassion, knowledge, and health.

Advertise veganism. Wear a vegan button, t-shirt, bumper sticker on your vehicle or bike. Many times, in supermarkets, movies, airports, etc., parents have asked me, "My daughter/son just became vegan, is she/he going to be alright?" When I reassure them of my decades as a vegan, it makes it so much easier for other vegans. Plant the seeds in people's minds. Normalize being vegan. Share yourself. Challenge the meat-mentality by telling the truth.

Vote with your dollar. Buy from vegan businesses whenever possible.

Be a life-long vegan activist. It is the greatest decision you'll ever make. It's a worldly decision. It is for people, for animals, for life, for planet Earth.

Always know how momentous it is to change the world. - Lots of LOVE, Karen Debra Messer

[Karen lives in Oregon with her interspecies family.]

I had cut dairy out of my diet when I was about 18 years old, because I had an ear, nose, and throat allergy to dairy, and I was getting a lot of ear infections and things like that. So when I cut that out, really the only thing that was separating me from having a vegan diet was chicken and fish. So I was just eating that for years, and I was eating it because I thought that I needed to, because everyone tells you, you know, if you're an athlete, you need at least chicken and fish in your diet for protein — something that's, you know, just one of the myths that's been perpetuated for a while. All it took was me cutting the chicken and fish out, and I did it cold turkey. I think a lot of people, stereotypically speaking, think someone that's a vegan is some skinny, hippie type of person. And I'm not necessarily trying to break the stereotype, I just tried the diet for my own personal reasons, and it worked for me. I feel like I have more energy now that I don't eat the meat products, and I also feel like I recover better in between my workouts. I'm not trying to be part of some exclusive club or anything like that, I'm just doing my thing and don't plan on eating meat or dairy or anything like that for the rest of my life. - Mac Danzig, American Mixed Martial Artist and Ultimate Fighting Champion

I came out as gay in January of my junior year of high school and became vegan the following September. Though I compartmentalized and separated them at the time, these two experiences are now so closely linked in my mind because I think of them both as a 'coming out'.

Throughout my preteen years, I would spend a few weeks a summer visiting my sister (fifteen years my senior) at her house in Portland. A vegan at the time, she would occasionally show me animal rights related videos and explain to me the pain and suffering. The videos were something that I could never shake from my mind, so I would quickly convert on the spot. I was always so eager to adopt a veg lifestyle, but my parents didn't appreciate my sister's "radical viewpoint" and would never agree to support me on the diet. Thus, I remained a carnist.

But after I came out as gay (something my parents also didn't appreciate), I found it easier to stop conforming to their standards completely, and let my own moral compass guide my decisions. I simply stopped eating the animal products that were put before me on the table and after a little while, we came to an understanding and they were more sympathetic.

Like coming out as gay, I found becoming vegan a very empowering process. I continue to try my hardest in living a life that is the most appropriate and moral for me.


I would have become vegetarian about the age of 9 if it was not for my mother's concern that I would not get my protein. We were vacationing in the country-side of The Netherlands. My younger brother and I were sent with a bucket to a nearby farm to get fresh milk. We loved to go to that old dutch farm, and see all the animals. We enjoyed seeing and holding new-born piglets, and loved to pet the barnyard dog. Now there was a chicken coop on one end of the courtyard. One day I saw the farmer walk into the coop and come out with a couple of chickens in each hand dangling by their feet. He walked with them across the barnyard into a shed. I thought it cruel to hold the chickens that way, and wandered what he was going to do with them. Minutes later he walked out of the shed with the chickens now very lifeless dangling down. My curiosity piqued, and I went into the shed to see what he had done. I was very, very distraught. When I got home I was crying, and refused to eat chicken from then on. However, my mother insisted, and over time I started eating chicken again. Many questions I had, about the other types of meat on my plate, were answered with teasing.

Sixteen years later, I lived with a roommate who was vegetarian. She had a brother who worked for a slaughterhouse. One night after telling me how the animals were treated there, I decided to become vegetarian as well. After a week of being vegetarian, but not changing anything else in my diet, I felt uncomfortably light. When walking down the hallway of our apartment, I almost felt as if I was floating above the floor. In addition I had a craving for tuna. Therefore, I decided to give up red meat, and continue eating fish and fowl. Much later I learned, that when you want to become vegetarian, that that is the way to do it. First cutting out the red meat, then the fowl, and later the fish. Upon learning the detriments of chicken farming, and overfishing and pollution, I decided to eat only safe fish, and vegetarian-fed, cage-free chicken, turkey and eggs.

Five years ago I became involved with spiritual teachers who one after the other required a student to be vegetarian if they wanted to follow the teachings. The last teacher actually required me to be organic-vegan. The reason being is that by eating animals or animal products we endorse killing and abuse.

Over time I learned about the cruelty involved, mismanagement of funds, and pollution in the meat and milk industry. I also realized thoroughly that milk from an animal is for that animal's offspring and not for human consumption. Meat and animal products are very hard to digest and cause all kinds of diseases. And protein is much easier obtained form plant source, than from animal source. So therefore I have been on a plant based diet for 2 1/2 years. It has not been easy, because of all the conditioning we go through believing we need to ingest certain items, otherwise there will be grave health consequences. Especially in my case, since I do have health concerns. When I decided I would do this, I carefully started counting the protein intake of all the foods I ate, and found out it was very good. My last blood test was excellent, my cholesterol ratio was one of the best, and protein was normal. I eat a very simple diet of vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts.

Now I have to confess that for a long time I did not know that being Vegan included not eating honey as well. Since I take just 1/2 a teaspoon of honey in my cup of tea in the morning this has been a hard one to give up. I found all kinds of reasons to continue using honey, buying only from true bee-keepers and not bee-users. However reading some articles, and especially the article "Why honey is not vegan", I have decided that the pot of honey I have now will be the last one. So then I truly can say I am Vegan, and on top of that I eat organic! This is all good for this planet as well as for my well being.
Vegan World, World peace.

Inge Brouwer

Round about 1977 I was on a coach camping trip in Central Australia. A "road train" filled with cattle was parked at one of the dusty, outback towns where we stopped. I remember looking into the beautiful faces of the cows and thinking how sad it was that they had to die just so we could be healthy. (How ignorant I was!)

Shortly afterwards I happened to wander into a health food shop and there on the shelf was a book entitled, "Meat, Who Needs It?" I discovered that not only did we not need to eat meat, it was far healthier to avoid it. I gave up meat that day and continued on this way for two years believing that I was now leading a cruelty - free life. I knew no other vegetarians at that time.

About 1979 after reading "Animal Liberation" and then meeting a vegan, I became aware of the immense cruelty inherent in the dairy and egg industries. I then gave up milk and eggs and have been a vegan for the past 31 years. My only regret is that I didn't discover the truth sooner.

Because of this, I try to educate others whenever an opportunity arises---via Letters to the Editor/Articles---to try and ensure that others aren't as ignorant as I was.

Besides this, I have written more than 50 poems in a bid to give others insight into the suffering of animals at the hands of man.
Thank you.

Jenny Moxham

I went vegetarian when I was 13. It was 1990 and the USDA Food Pyramid had been under fire since the late 70s- a revision came 2 years later much to the chagrin of the animal products industry. I felt that anything I could do to make myself healthy now would only improve my life in old age. Sure, I was an animal lover, but it wasn't about that.

Later, Joanne Stepaniak's "Vegan Sourcebook" opened my eyes to the fact that these concerns could be extended to a whole array of apparently vegetarian foods riddled with hidden animal by-products. Moreso, it exposed me to the cruelty and environmental blight of the industry. I questioned everything....

...I've had all the usual struggles: travelling, going out to eat, non-veg friends and family, veg kids, living on a budget, etc. but in the end it's worth it. I went veg to make myself healthier and I feel it. I stayed veg to help the world around me and it is reassuring to know that I make a difference every day. After all, in a world of so many choices, it seems only reasonable to choose the path of least suffering.

Walter Lapchynski

I became a vegan because of love, plain and simple. Animals are capable of love, fear and happiness. They know sadness, anger and depression. I have imagined what it would be like to be an animal being taken to slaughter, and it sickens me. It breaks my heart.

Imagine being manhandled, then thrown on a Greyhound bus with your friends and family. Standing shoulder to shoulder, not knowing why you were evicted from your home or where you were going. Suppose you traveled during a torrential downpour. The windows on the bus are all broken, so you huddle together in desperation against the elements, trying to stay warm and dry. The bus stops, the doors are opened, but everyone is too terrified to move. Men board the bus, forcing you out by whatever means necessary. You run off the bus, wanting to escape the physical and mental abuse of your captors, to find yourself in a maze of gates leading into a shelter. You go inside, scared out of your wits. You can smell the fear. You can hear it. You try to run back the way you came, but it is blocked. One by one, your friends and family are led away. Then it is your turn. Your head is restrained around the neck. Horror fills your mind as you try to fight for your freedom. You kick, you struggle, you scream. Then pain and blackness.

I didn't become a vegan because of my health. I didn't do it because I wanted to save the earth. I did it because I could no longer turn a blind eye to how that perfectly packaged meat came to be. I did it for love.
Stacy Payne

We thought we would share our journey with you, EVEN, in the event it proves of interest or enlightenment in some small way to aid others in their journey.

Many years ago, one of my sisters began getting ill shortly after meals. Working with her MD, keeping a food diary uncovered the (to us!) unlikely culprit of beef. Or more specifically, she was reacting to hormones, steroids, and I don't recall what else. Oh my! In solidarity we decided the only thing to do was to eat more chicken. Yet, increasing her intake of that particular food product exposed her again to unwanted hormones, steroids, and a case of food poisoning from poorly handled chicken in the form of Salmonella.

What the heck was going on? As this was back before the WWWeb, we had to go to libraries and other sources to gather information. We started researching how that patty came to be on the bun, and were exposed really for the first time to the horrific 'food production' process that adds additives, flavorings, colorings, fillers and treatments to that innocuous patty. Sure, we'd heard the term vegetarian, but those tree- and cow-huggers were 'fringe' folks living on the edges of society just wanting attention for being different, was our tacit opinion at the time.

At this point, >> MORE
Wendy Liberko

I grew up in a household where the main dish at a meal was always some form of meat. Throughout junior high, high school, and college I was involved in athletics and made it a point to consume a high level of meat, dairy, and eggs because "authorities" I had read said, and I believed, that I needed a large amount of protein; these same "authorities" had also convinced me that animal source proteins were superior to plant proteins. I did not know anyone who was a vegetarian; in fact, I did not know such a thing even existed.

Some time when I was in college, around the age of 22 or 23, I was very committed to the idea that all human beings had the right to be treated with respect and not be subjected to violence unless it was necessary to ward off a violent attack on the part of another person. I had been committed to this for several years, but at this point the question came up for me: why aren't other living beings deserving of the same consideration? We kill and eat them, but they are no threat to us and we could be well fed without eating their flesh. What gives humans the right to do this? At that point, I decided to stop eating meat.

However, >> MORE
Dale Lugenbehl

I started early on my path of awareness with food. At around age 14, I began to deeply contemplate the ethical and environmental concerns with eating and raising animals. I was fortunate enough to be exposed to the absurdity of factory farming at a young age. I contemplated this for a few months and decided I wanted no part of it. It fit well with my teenage rebellion phase. Our conventional food system, I knew clearly by age 14, was grossly corrupt. I knew there were alternative choices out there, so I immediately dove in headfirst. I became 100% vegan. The statement was well received by my family, and I actually "converted" both my mother and stepfather to become vegetarian (mostly vegan!) by the time I was 18 or 19.

My initial point of awareness was the animals, and the Earth. I wasn't too concerned about my own health in the beginning, but as I matured into my early twenties, I began to see the importance of this, too, and how it fit integrally into my vision for peace and wholeness. I began studying nutrition, and became fascinated by the power of herbs and super foods. After experiencing a moderate healing crisis (largely due to a 5+ year vegan junk food diet), I got the message, and became fully devoted to a healthy, natural living path, giving thanks daily for the benefits of organic whole plant foods.

My wife and I now raise two vegetarian daughters, ages 8 and 5. Vegetarianism and natural whole-foods are deeply ingrained into our way of life. It's not something we force, it's something we all take pride in choosing together, with the children often taking the lead! Meanwhile, I work as sales manager for HealthForce Nutritionals, a popular vegan superfood nutrition line, educating the world about the benefits of superfoods.
Ty Bell, National Sales Manager, HealthForce Nutritionals

When I was 13, I was sitting at the dinner table with my parents. My mom had just placed yet another meaty roast on the table and began to slice into it. I had always been mildly repulsed by meat, but in this particular instance, it really hit home for me. I looked at the pink meat on the table, then at my own arm. Then back at the meat, then again at my arm. I had a moment of disgust when I realized that both were 'meat,' and vowed that I could/would no longer eat it. Over the years, my resolve grew as I learned more about animal welfare and the meat industry. In 2000, I went vegan, never looking back. I couldn't imagine living life any other way than compassionate.
Andrea Kowalski

Like most Americans, especially when I was growing up, I was taught to believe that meat was absolutely essential to a healthy diet. Although I loved animals and did not like to think about the animals I was eating, I did not question what I had been taught for a long time. Finally my concerns led me to read Frances Moore Lappe's Diet for a Small Planet (now I have dated myself for sure), and learned that meat not only is not a necessity but actually a detriment to health, and that it contributes to world hunger and requires a horrific waste of resources (land, water, fuel). Another person who influenced me greatly, although I was already vegetarian by the time I read his book, was John Robbins (the heir to the Baskin-Robbins family who renounced his family's business). He really revealed the cruelty of factory farming. Becoming veg was not really difficult for me because I just naturally loved vegetarian food from the start.
Diane Kuhn

Until mid 2002, I was a meat eater. I have always instinctively been opposed to cruelty to animals, as all decent and sensible people are, but didn't know much about how food animals were raised or processed. I assumed humans had always eaten meat because it was natural for us to, and that food animals were raised on farms where they were fairly oblivious to their surroundings and only moderately inconvenienced until their swift and humane execution. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Over 95% of animals raised for food are born, live and die in horribly painful conditions. Pigs and chickens are raised in what are euphemistically referred to as "factory farms", but the only thing about these hell holes that even remotely resembles a farm is that they are out in the country. Where consumers can't see them.


Dan Piraro, creator of the syndicated cartoon, Bizarro

I became a vegetarian about 20 years ago after reading John Robbins' Diet for a New America. I had flirted with vegetarianism for a few years prior, but my work in the high-end restaurant kitchens of Aspen made sticking to my choice very hard. After reading that book, it wasn't hard at all. Over the years I've bought literally dozens of copies of Diet for a New America just to give away and have seen it work the same magic on many other people!
Jon Terry, Chef/Owner, Garbanzo Grill LLC

So why did I become a vegetarian? I was born one. Both my parents became vegetarians when they were in their early twenties. My dad couldn't stand the taste of meat and as a kid would hide the meat from his plate under the baseboard heater (where the cats would paw it out and eat it), or hide it in his pockets and then flush it down the toilet. He also felt it was the wrong thing to do (eat animals) and easily became a vegetarian.

He met my mom and she also didn't like meat that much and was easily convinced to become a vegetarian. My mom never had heard of tofu before moving to the United States (born in England then moved to South Africa and then Australia). Now tofu is a staple food in our house.

When I came along it was a no brainer to raise me (and my younger brother) veggie and so that is how I (and my parents :) ) became vegetarian.

I have never tasted meat in my life and never will. I am so happy that my parents raised me veggie.
Anne Wilson

My first animal rights thoughts happened in my teenage years when my musical idol (Morrissey) who happened to be an outspoken vegetarian had a song called "Meat is Murder". This song planted the seed which eventually blossomed in my first philosophy course in college when we studied animal rights. We read some Peter Singer and saw videos of slaughterhouses and all the terrible conditions of factory farming. It became really clear to me that my love of animals was not consistent with eating them and I also didn't want to support the meat industry anymore. It's quite a moment to confront something that you've been doing your whole life with a realization of how wrong it is.

I can remember eating my last hamburger which I got about halfway through, feeling sick about it, and deciding right then and there I was going to be a vegetarian from that moment. That was 18 years ago and now I can't imagine eating meat.

While I dropped the meat from my diet in an instant, the dairy took longer. It didn't take too long to stop drinking milk and eating eggs (didn't really like them that much anyway). I did eat cheese for a long time and removed it from my diet in a gradual way. I've been vegan for probably 6 or 7 years now, but since it's been gradual I don't really have a firm time on it.

Becoming a vegetarian was one of the best choices I've made in my life.
Eugene, Oregon

For me, maturity and understanding are the continual further-grasping of the interconnectedness of all things in our lives. A child innocently goes through the world without understanding the foreign relations with other countries, without an understanding of natural history, without an understanding of the soil underfoot and the stars above. Maturing is a slow gaining of these understandings.

Making the choice to go vegan was an absolutely effortless, logical, and necessary action that corresponded to all the other changes I was making in my life at the time due to gaining new understandings. I was about 15 or 16, and started to realize that commercialized pop culture music, art, and fashion were not the last word in those things. I explored other outlets for these which quickly expanded my mind. Through inspiration of books and lyrics, I realized not only how utterly unnecessary beliefs in god are, but how very HARMFUL they are to mankind's survival. I became an atheist. Once I had shed the hardest and most harmful dead weight of irrationality that is theism, my mind was unclouded to apply the same rational thinking towards other choices in my life. I decided to not drink, smoke or do drugs due to the evidence against their use. I decided to go vegan because anyone that takes the slightest bit of time out of their lives to question the use of animal products will see what a deluded way of being it is.

Everything is connected. if you care about the environment, stop using animals. if you care about animals' feelings, stop using animals. If you care about your health, stop using animals. If you care about the economy, stop using animals. Your tax dollars that fund this country's health programs are needed to treat all the health problems in our country that arise from animal use. (Heart disease is the number one killer in america. 100% avoidable...)
shawn kilmer

As a college student, living in a house and paying too much rent, I couldn't afford to eat food prepared by somebody else. I couldn't cook, either. I had an aversion to fast food and long lists of mysterious ingredients. My diet was restricted to the simplest of foodstuffs, and this did NOT include MEAT.

As a treat, my housemate decided to cook us some dinner using some chicken breast. The meat wasn't fresh and he couldn't cook, so this meal was a memorable disaster. Tough chewy chicken meat of questionable origin made us look at each other and say... huh... this is SO not worth it.

Since that tummy-turning incident, my vegetarianism evolved from something that arose out of convenience and pickiness into a greater philosophical decision, and I chose a diet without murder, accepting the challenges of nourishing my body without killing (or cooking!) other animals.

My name is Jessica and here is a little insight to how I became a Vegan even though I am a Cuban from Miami, Florida...not your usual fare for a Latina raised in an immigrant Cuban household.

Although I have never been to a meeting to meet my fellow Vegans, I stay in touch with all of the wonderful [EVEN] e-mails and links. My partner Frank and I are Foster Care Providers of four D.D. men and have a very tough time getting to meetings. Therefore I am extremely thankful for all you do for us in keeping us informed. My story...

I am a 48 year Cuban woman who lived in Miami for most of my life. I left a 13 year marriage and headed West even though I had never been on my own, but not before I had started a life-saving, weight loss program. You see, by the middle of 1996 I had allowed a great sadness and a series of broken dreams to take over my spirit and eventually my body, and I would become a woman weighing 450lbs! I felt lost and could barely stand on legs which already had suffered five knee surgeries, let alone deal with my family and the unraveling which was looming around the corner. Needless to say I knew changes were on the horizon and thus began this leg of my journey.

I lost the first 175 lbs. on the Atkins diet, the smarter version I thought. I wasn't frying steaks in bacon grease and drizzling velveeta on top. I instead bought his books and informed myself of the pros and cons. I set off to re-make myself. I arrived in Eugene April of 1997 and moved into a house with four house-mates one of whom, Frank, has been my partner ever since. Although in the Summer of 2002 my partner, younger, healthy ex-surfer/skateboarder (we still have about 14 skateboards at home which he still rides) came down with Gout. If you've never had this and get it, you will never forget it.

After four days of absolute misery, he finally allowed me to drive him to our 24 hr out-patient facility for some diagnosis and relief. But as usual in our Allopathic community, they wanted to treat the symptom and not the cause. They took blood, gave a diagnosis, filled a prescription and sent him home to continue living a life which clearly his body was fighting. So he tried the meds for about a week until he decided to get information regarding this horrible disease and what he could do to counteract its terrible effects on his health and these chemicals he wasn't used to taking. Luckily he never took the Vioxx as prescribed and instead was given the gift of Veganism and so we slowly embarked on this magical journey which would transform our lives forever.

We have stood among many who have not agreed with our path and then there have been some who have taken the same baby steps we took and are learning how connected we now feel to our Mother Earth and our own spirit. I continue to lose weight slowly and intelligently and find that I finally feel a connection to everything and everyone around me for the first time in my life. Although a Care Provider for over 20 years, I have never felt better about who I am and how being a Vegan is one of the most beautiful gifts I can give myself, our Earth and all the creatures who live upon her.
Jessie Gresmak
P.S. You can use my name, I feel honored to be part of the solution.

I had always been a very heavy meat eater and, unlike many vegetarians I have met over time, I had loved the taste of meat. However, my diet had created some negative health consequences for me. Starting at age 18, I started thinking about my diet instead of simply eating what my parents and friends ate, but I still tried to maintain my general choices while modifying items on the "edges."

In graduate school I read Frances Moore Lappè's Diet for a Small Planet. In one of the opening sections of the book, she described a hypothetical scene in a restaurant that was empty except for a single diner, eating a meat-based meal. The metaphor alluded that the amount of food and energy devoted to that single diner's meal could have fed 60 people eating a vegetarian diet. I found this information startling. I had never been a Communist or a Socialist regarding monetary matters, but there was something inescapably unfair about creating shortages in things as critical as food. I became a vegetarian overnight, much to the shock of my friends!

Truth be told her book later explained that politics played a greater role in mass hunger than did eating meat, but it was too late for me. A habit and mindset that had been with me all my life, evaporated in a single moment, and I never returned. Since that time, my reasons for maintaining a vegetarian lifestyle have changed several times from social justice to health to animal rights to ecology as well as other reasons and sometimes in combination. While the reasons might change, I have never regretted my decision.
Hilliard Gastfriend

Why I went Veg????? It's the only thing to do!!!!!!! If we were in a much more natural society, it wouldn't even be a question... and everyone would be raw too!
Lyris Cooper

I decided to be a lifetime vegetarian at the age of fourteen in 1968. Because I refused to go to school any longer, I was put briefly in juvenile hall and would only come out if I could live with the family of a friend to attend a better school. This family was so kind in taking me in when they already had five kids that I decided I would eat a little of whatever they put in front of me. (I see no need for anyone to do this now.) Fortunately, this only lasted a few months, and by the time I was 15 I was able to be a vegetarian for good.

I had an amazing brother, seven years older than myself, who handed me a skinny little book one day called "Every Living Creature" by Ralph Waldo Trine. He also said a few words to me help me get where bacon and hamburger come from. So we both stopped eating animals at the same time. I still have this odd little book which was copyrighted 1899. This was all it took for me. Not to be corny, but I think 1968 was an auspicious time to become a vegetarian. I assumed all flower children and other kindhearted people would be doing the same, and to this very day I still feel shocked when I see anyone actually eating animals. It always blows my mind even though I know it is the dominant thing. My best friend became a vegetarian with me at the same time. To be honest I technically wasn't a vegetarian for several years as I always thought Jesus ate fish and it was some kind of spiritual thing to eat fish and that fish were happy to be eaten. I truly believed this but finally realized that was nuts. My step dad had some living fish swimming around in the kitchen sink one day. I petted them and the sweet and incredible way they responded was enough for me. It was quite profound to experience. I wish I had hipped myself sooner.
Genelle M.

Back in the 60's, I went veg because my friends did, it didn't last. It was the macrobiotic craze. Eat only what falls on the ground. Then in the early 70's, I gave up eating turkey and chicken because I had a bad dream I was basting newborn children on Thanksgiving. Then in 1980 I saw a show late at night while I was nursing my new baby that showed how they treat newborn cows for veal. I gave up all meat after that except for fish. In the mid 90's, I gave up fish because of the movie Perfect Storm. It showed a lot of dead fish and it looked like they had a very painful death. Several years later I was still eating shellfish when I saw a tank with live shrimp. The really big ones. The fish looked right at me and seemed to say "We are the last of an ancient fairy race.", and I never ate them again. Now, if only I could give up my lust for sugar and fried tofu.
Janet Tarver

I became vegetarian when I was 13 and vegan when I was 17 or 18. From the age of 7, I had a mentor/friend who was vegetarian and, while she never told me "eating meat is bad", she did point out the reasons she was vegetarian---for the animals, for her health, and for the environment. The funny thing is--- she is the same friend that planted the seed for my cycling! You know, for me, [being veg] is also somewhat of a political statement. When I was 13, I started learning more about factory farming, and one day I told my parents I was turning vegetarian. They were okay with it---which surprised me a bit---but going vegan was another story.

My mother wouldn't allow me to be vegan in the house. She thought vegans were just out to get attention and be a pain in the &%# to everyone else. So when I was 17 and still living at home, I was vegan everywhere except in my own house. As soon as I graduated high school, I received an internship and moved out. Then I became fully vegan (age 18).

Anita Dilles, UO Cycling Team

(Anita rides at least 120 miles per week, averaging 9 hours or more on her bike. She has been riding seriously for 3 years, and racing for two years with her main event, track, taking place at the Alpenrose Velodrome in Portland. She also competes in road races and criteriums. A typical meal for Anita consists of plenty of healthful complex carbs and some vegan protein --- either Italian or Thai pasta, a sauce, tofu or tempeh, and plenty of vegetables. Does being vegan make it any harder to get the protein she needs? "No way!" Anita explains there are so many products available with vegetable protein, and rice and beans can do the trick, too. She likes to snack on cashews (and other nuts) and baby carrots, and Anita loves peanut butter!)

A mid-western girl, I always rolled my eyes at vegetarians. Ironically enough, though, I was ALWAYS almost unnaturally drawn to Civil Rights, Slavery, Feminism, Lynching and other injustices----I was constantly reading narratives, essays and more on the topics. Although I wish I could remember what it was "exactly", I know that I was reading both Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr's autobiographies plus had engaged in a few conversations with the new vegan that had started working with me. When I made the parallel between slavery, lynching and animal rights, I knew what I had to do. I DO remember that I was laying on my bed, reading, had the epiphany.... and I GROANED aloud! I loved my animal foods. I ate steak for breakfast. But I also had a chronic health condition (candida) that nobody seemed to be able to help me with, on top of my seemingly unrelated budding animal activism. The more I learned, the more shocked I became at what I found out. Now I'm an outspoken vegan educator who follows a high and teaches others how to help their health conditions through a healthier diet, just like I did. Talk about pulling a 180!
Erica Albanese

I vegadapted because all life in concert is Earth's natural caretaker. The primary consequences of rampant competition for profit are unnatural consumption, oppression, and militarism. For the sake of an audience, the term for this destruction of diversity -- of environmental decay and social division -- is living and dying in conflict.

Humans will remain Earth's most destructive life form until we join other life forms in recognizing the importance of total natural diversity. As our climate changes and oceans rise, achieving this priceless diversity requires a selfless effort to maximize a balanced, peaceful coexistence by making closed human minds the true minority and ending human conflict. For the sake of an audience, the term for this vision of a sea change toward peace -- of a cooperative exercise in human goodness, spiritual prosperity, and diverse productive harmony -- is living and flourishing in godhood.

Life's attempt to evolve to this natural godhood of one synergistic caretaker is a quest too often forgotten by humans until death. Because our "superior intelligence" has long overlooked this necessary mutuality, the evolutionary quest has become a human race against time. For the power of popular demand and universal inclusion to help us adapt, our situation must be highly publicized, revealing clear choices whether to perish advancing the profits of conflict or flourish advancing the godhood of peace.
Brian Bogart
Diversity Scholar
M.A. Candidate, Peace Studies
University of Oregon

I was born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas. To get to Kansas City, Missouri, we had to cross a bridge above a stockyard. The stockyard smelled awful, but it was part of the landscape, and so we became accustomed to holding our noses when the car windows were open.

In the 8th grade, my teacher took the class on a field trip to the slaughterhouse under the bridge. Until that time, I had no idea that the "food" on my plate was connected to screams of animals and smells of death.

That night, when I got home, I would not eat the meat on my plate. My mother worried I would starve so gradually she snuck hamburger into my meals.

Sick of being sick, I read a lot about diet and health until, at age 26, I became an ovo-lacto vegetarian. By age 35, I was vegan. For a couple of years I ate fish and eggs plus sheep and goat dairy products, but I didn't like the way I looked or felt, so now I enjoy a primarily raw-food diet. I am healthier, stronger, and have more energy now than ever before.
Patricia Robinett

A Lesson In Animal Rights Weighs One Pound

A Lesson In Animal Rights Weighs One Pound

By Neal D. Barnard, M.D.
President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

My first lesson in animal rights was taught to me by a small white rat that I took home from the college psychology lab.

The introductory course in psychology used rats who were deprived of water for three days and then put in a cage that delivers a few drops of water when a bar is pressed by the thirsty animal inside. The point of the lab was to show how learning occurs---if an animal is rewarded for an action such as pressing a bar, the animal will probably repeat the action. At the end of the course, the rats are put together in a trash can, chloroform is poured over them, and the lid is closed.

One day, I took a rat home from the lab. "Ratsky" lived for some months in a cage in my bedroom. And in her cage, she behaved the way I assumed rats behave. But when I started leaving the cage door open so she could walk around, I began seeing things I hadn't anticipated. After several days of cautious sniffing about at the cage door, she began to investigate the world outside. As she explored my apartment (under my watchful eye), she took an interest in my friends and me.

She gradually became more and more friendly. If I was lying on my back reading, she would come and stand on my chest. She would wait to be petted, and if I didn't pay her enough attention, she would lightly nip my nose and run away. I knew her sharp teeth could have gone right through my skin, but she was playfully careful.

Like a cat, Ratsky spent hours grooming herself. Given food, water, and warmth, I found that rats are friendly, fun, and meticulously clean. If I let a glass of ice water on the floor for her, she would painstakingly take out each ice cube and carry it inch by inch in her teeth away from the glass until all the ice had been "cleaned" out.

One day, I noticed a lump in her skin. With time it grew, and after a long search, I found a vet who specialized in laboratory animals to take the lump out. It turned out to be a tumor.

After the surgery, she painfully tottered a few steps trembling. Despite the surgery, her condition worsened and her suffering was very apparent. At night I would sleep with her in the palm of my hand so I would wake up if she needed my help. Before long, it became clear that Ratsky's health was failing and that she was in great distress. Finally, she had to be euthanized.

I carry with me the vivid image of this tiny animal tottering in pain, of her in my palm trying to pull out the sutures that were a constant irritation to her. In the months that followed, I began to think about all the other animals whose suffering I had taken dispassionately, and I realized each one was an individual who suffered just as acutely as the little rat I had held in my hand. And that suffering was just as real whether the animal was a dog, a monkey, a rat, or a mouse.

Now, as a physician, I continue to be puzzled by the resistance to compassion that I see so commonly in others and that I, too, experienced for so long. Cruelty to animals is diagnosed as a psychiatric symptom predictive of antisocial personality. Yet, we often fail to recognize the cruelties perpetuated so casually in laboratories.

Not too long ago, my alma mater sent me a survey asking, among other things, who had been my most effective teacher. I'm not sure they understood my reply.