My Vegan Journey
As many of you know, I’m a vegan and it’s why I photograph what I do. It’s why I make a point of finding suppliers who use vegan inks and sustainable vegan materials (and also why I will never use a film camera). So today, I thought I would make my return to blogging by sharing my vegan journey with you all.
I’ll take you back 5 years, to the winter of 2017. I was playing American Football as an Offensive Lineman. I was attending the gym 5 times a week and the either playing a game or training one day at the weekend too. I was eating a lot of chicken, rice, asparagus & broccoli, often for all three meals per day! I was then having multiple whey protein shakes made with milk. I was eating a lot, and I thought I was eating healthy. At the time, I thought I both looked and felt good.
The following year, July 2018, I attended a sporting weekend away, ate as was normal for me and did my usual thing. I had the following Monday booked off work to recover and it was that morning, 10 July 2018, that my whole world changed. I was cooking a bacon sandwich while scrolling through Facebook when I came across a video posted by someone I knew who had recently gone vegan after years as a pescatarian. The video was of an Anonymous for the Voiceless Cube of Truth and, I’m not sure why, but that morning it just clicked. For years I had willingly turned a blind eye to the goings on behind the scenes, I knew it happened, of course I did, but I tried not to think about it and got on with my life. After watching that video, I could no longer do it.
I then literally did the Carnist Bingo in my head:
“But this is a video from Australia, there’s no way that happens in the UK!”
“But where will I get my protein that I need for the gym and American Football?”
“Surely I need the calcium from milk?”
A few hurried searches on my phone revealed that yes, it does happen in UK farms, and actually, many top athletes, including NFL players, are vegan. So I went to Netflix and watched Cowspiracy, followed immediately by What the Health? As soon as the credits rolled, I got up, walked to my fridge and threw EVERYTHING into the bin. I went Cold Tofurkey there and then and haven’t looked back since.
When I think back, I believe the first seeds were planted back in 2006, I was 16 and on a family holiday at Disney World Florida and I was watching the gorillas at Animal Kingdom (we’ll cover zoos another time) and realised just how much like us they are.
It was a family of 4, the parents, a son and a daughter. The kids were fighting, as all siblings do, and their mum came to break them up. As she walked away again, the boy hit his sister and started the fight again. This time, their dad came lumbering around the corner to tell them off and the boy, seeing this, ran as fast as he could to the other side of the enclosure while the girl ran to her mum for a cuddle. This memory is one that still sticks vividly in my mind as the first time I really saw just how much like us animals are, but it took another 12 years for the dominoes to fall.
Initially, I did what I am sure a lot of vegans do, I was proudly a “non-pushy vegan” for almost a year after making the change. It wasn’t until I attended Vegan Camp Out in September 2019 that my attitude and approach changed. I attended a couple of talks in the Activism Tent, one by Animal Rebellion and the other by Anonymous for the Voiceless and I was invigorated. I came back from that weekend with a completely different view and approach to the one I’d had for the last year. I was excited to start fighting for the animals. In January 2020 I attended my first AV Cube of Truth and did several of these before Covid brought things crashing to a halt. I enjoyed doing the Cube of Truth and I met some wonderful people who I continue to call friends. But I also learnt a lot, developed and strengthened my points and arguments, learned from far more experienced animal rights campaigners and became more rounded. I was also new to photography and only had experience in landscapes until that point, but took my camera to shoot photos of the Cubes too.
Around this time, I also rescued my first animals, 6 ex-laying hens who, at just 18 months old, had been deemed useless by the egg industry. So I welcomed Duchess, Greta, Betsy, Snow, Fluffy and Freida to my garden, where they lived out the rest of their lives free and happy. Unfortunately they all passed away due to egg peritonitis, something I learnt a great deal about during my time. This is a condition where, due to selective-breeding to lay more and more eggs, things undoubtedly go wrong and the eggs stop forming properly. They start not forming shells properly and then leaking inside them, filling their insides with what ends up looking like scrambled egg. As prey animals, hens hide this very well and often don’t show signs until it is already too late and the only way to stop it is with expensive implants that MIGHT make them stop laying for anything from 1-6 months. Despite this, my time with them was amazing, getting to know each of them and love them as individuals with their own personalities was an incredible experience and I will forever remember them. One day, I hope to be able to rescue even more animals from a life of torture, with a photo studio on site as well!
As Covid hit, activities like Cubes were brought to stop around the world and I was trying to think of new ways to help animals. As someone who had recently taken up photography (more on that story another time), I eventually put my two passions together and started visiting sanctuaries once I was able to help support them and the animals they care for. I have loved every second of doing that for almost three years now and hope to be able to continue doing this for many years to come.
Now, after being vegan for just over 4 years, I advocate for the animals whenever I can, I’m healthier than ever (lost 2st in the first 3 months of being vegan), fitter than ever (in training for my first ever half marathon whilst still attending the gym regularly), I run a photography business which supports animal sanctuaries and I am more at peace with myself than before. My posts online and my passion for animal rights have pushed away people in my life and that has led to issues with feeling isolated at times, but I have ultimately joined a wonderful community, surrounded by like-minded individuals with the same core beliefs and passions as me, trying to change the world, and I wouldn’t change a single thing about my vegan journey.