Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Gay Vegans: Loving Animals

By Dan Hanley

I remember one day many years ago I was volunteering at a farmed animal sanctuary and during one of the tours a guest told me that they loved animals. My response, with a big smile and loving heart, was that if we love animals the best thing we can do for them is to not eat them.

Not eating animals seems totally radical to many people. In our part of the country animal production is a big part of the economy. Agriculture law and even how some wildlife is treated is based on the economic value of animal production.

There has been a change though. And the change is mainly around how we think about animals. Moving away from animals as products and moving towards animals as sentient creatures, as living beings that feel pain and fear. Even people I have met who still eat animals say that they do not want to be part of animal suffering.

It can be overwhelming to be a meat eater and consider veganism. It can look not only radical, but almost impossible. How on earth could I ever give up cheese? I smile as I write this as giving up cheese seems to be what is on many people's minds when even thinking about becoming vegan. Although I haven't had cow's cheese in 17 years, I think the vegan cheeses these days are delicious. Great flavor and texture without the cruelty.

The how part in becoming vegan is rather simple although I could write several blog posts about it. I started with one animal, pigs. Then cows, then chickens. I thought that process would take a long time. In my path it took a couple of weeks. And that was before I had access to the internet. The internet is filled with information on veganism, recipes, fitness and nutrition ideas that will help anyone as they consider a plant-based life.

Some people take a giant step and one day decide they are vegan. Others take smaller steps, a little bit longer of a process. When thinking of animals and animal suffering, any type of action towards veganism is good.

In my time being vegan, and having met many vegans (the vast majority of whom were not raised vegan, rather made a choice to become vegan), I have come to realize that those people who become vegan for the animal's sake, because they do not want to be part of the inherent cruelty towards animals, find it easy to not only become vegan but to live an incredibly new life they would have never imagined as vegan.

Last night Mike made chunky chipotle mashed potato empanadas accompanied with steamed Swiss chard for dinner and while I was enjoying the incredible flavors I mentally added to my list of things I eat today thanks to fellow vegans who showed my a wonderful new path towards culinary delight. 

And it all began because I love animals.

This post originally appeared on Dan Hanley's website The Gay Vegans. Republished with permission.

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