From a Murderer to a Vegan!
By: Shikha Punjabi
When you’re born into a Punjabi family, like me, your diet is pretty much dominated by butter/ghee, paneer, and chicken. I grew up savoring the idea of Sundays because I got to feast on butter-laden paneer parathas with a generous dollop of curd, spicy chicken tandoori and my favorite at the time, ice cream sundaes. It sounds like a perfect day, right? Wrong!
Dietary Habits contributing to a Potential Apocalypse
I didn’t know that my dietary habits were contributing to a potential apocalypse. I read this quote somewhere that making an innocent child kill another innocent soul is child abuse. And it resonated with me. I remember visiting a farm on one of my school trips and the teacher pointed to the chickens and said that’s where you get your nuggets from”, pointed to a cow “that’s where you get your milkshake from”, pointing to a pig, “that’s where you get your bacon sandwich from”. Her voice was so nonchalant.
It was quite evident they were in pain. I asked my teacher why they looked so unhappy, in our textbooks they were drawn with happy faces. She said, “they’re not sad, they’re just sleepy” and whisked me away before I could cause any more trouble. I came home and narrated this to my parents and had even more questions. They gave me the same spiel all parents give their children, false facts about milk and meat being good for you. When I think back, I cannot really blame them.
Who is to be blamed?
I blame society. It’s our entire society that is conditioned to believe that all animals are meant to be exploited. Our science textbooks teach us that they’re significant sources of vitamins and protein. Our religious books talk about how we used animals to win wars. Our festivals and traditions demand the use or murder of animals to celebrate.
In our minds, animals are meant to serve humans. I’m sure at various points we have asked and heard others ask the question “but if we don’t USE them then what are they here for? Or we’ve said, “This is what they’re meant to do or be”. I want to scream when they make such insensitive statements. Why do they have to be here for anything? Why can’t they exist in peace? And more particularly, how entitled can humankind get?
My life changed after learning about Veganism
That question was answered for me when I watched various vegan documentaries. I did my research and learned the benefits of a vegan diet. The best part of this journey was that I unlearned a lot. It was exciting to read that there are a plethora of vegan and cruelty-free brands catering to every need.
I perused over articles and books that shed light on the ethical aspects of veganism. Contrary to popular belief veganism is not a limiting or restrictive lifestyle. It was a hard pill to swallow that until now I hadn’t bothered to look beyond what I was taught by my friends and family and culture.
It was a no-brainer after that. I didn’t want to be a murderer anymore. I did not want to take part in or support the senseless exploitation of animals. I never wanted to feel guilty when I looked into the eyes of a poor mother cow ever again. Us humans have become so desensitized to each other’s pain we don’t even factor in the animals. I wish I knew what I was doing. Today the unimaginable guilt is replaced by pure joy and euphoria.
It makes me elated to say I AM VEGAN which in my head translates to I AM NOT A MURDERER ANYMORE.
(The views expressed in the article are the author’s own. Let Me Breathe neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)
Shikha Punjabi is a vegan influencer/activist with a penchant for food, fashion, and footwear. She hates people who think there’s anything “humane” about animal agriculture.Know More