Thank you for taking the time to lay that all out.
I became vegetarian around 14 (I think 1995). I wasn't much aware then of actual conditions of the animals, just a sort of vague notion that killing them to eat them was wrong because they have "intelligence
". I stayed vegetarian (to my parents dismay) until age 19ish. I fell into a seriously unhealthy relationship with a girl, took her to Texas running from the law (her crime not mine). Also quit the vegetarian "thing" and started smoking.
I eventually pieced my life back together, went to nursing school, and became a more stable functional member of society. All the while, I continued to eat pretty much the standard American diet
I became vegan (I think) in 2009. This was after studying some ethical philosophy, leading me to examine the conditions under which animals are treated. The suffering they endure. As a little more mature, I no longer was so concerned with "smarts" as the measure of worth for someone. Suffering is not proportional to some vague notion of intelligence. It is quite obvious (to me) that the same emotional and physiological responses occur in these fellow creatures, regardless of "intelligence
I pretty much quit cold turkey (pardon the unintentional pun
I really didn't know much about the nutritional requirements, at first, other than that veganism was possible (survivable
I have since studied much more regarding nutrition, and am pretty convinced of the health benefits at this point. B12 supplementation is essential (not enough bacteria in food or water). Much lower rates of cancers and cardiovascular diseases. Vegan men actually tend to have higher testosterone levels than non-vegan men, sort of paradoxical. This may account for some of my assertiveness/aggression.
From a food production perspective, plant production is generally much cheaper than animal production. This is primarily due to the requirement of between 10-100 times as many calories must be fed to an animal, as calories that the animal will produce as "product" (meat, eggs, dairy). Most of the feed is of course grain, which competes with developing nations in the market. A significant portion of the feed is other animals (mostly fish
). There are also the logistical costs of transporting feed, "dealing with" pollution of air and water supply etc.
The environmental costs are legion.
The transition wasn't really easy for me, primarily because I was used to the bachelor life-style. Eating fast food, tv-dinners, etc. I had to learn how to cook and how to shop. I don't live in a very metropolitan area of the country... no nearby vegan restaurants... no Whole Foods. I made close friends with the Indian and Lebanese restaurants in my town, and with the local food co-0p. My girlfriend is also vegan (now). Her transition was easier, because she already had a healthier lifestyle, and she had me to cook for her.
I am not a purist regarding veganism, I don't freak out if someone accidentally includes a non-vegan ingredient in something they made for me. It is the principle of boycott. I'll wear wool clothes if they are donated, or if I had them from before. I don't buy leather, but I didn't throw away my leather shoes. When they wear out, I buy new vegan ones.
There is visceral level of disgust I have now for meat/milk/eggs.
That wasn't present at first. It developed about 2 years after I started. I sort of lost the euphemistic thinking of "beef" vs. "cow", "eggs" vs. "menses", "milk" vs. [well... pretty much milk from anything other than a human].
I still struggle with cigarettes
I buy American Spirits
because they don't put pig hemoglobin in the filters.