Why Vegan?

As a vegetar­ian I often faced questions such as “what about chicken?” or  “you don’t even eat fish?”  I would appease those question­ing my actions by saying, “well at least I am not VEGAN!”.   I tried to reassure those around me that I wasn’t one of those freaks.  Those extrem­ists that spent their time reading labels and judging others.  I didn’t want to be too differ­ent; I still wanted to be invited to sit at the table with the cool kids.

So for years I happily refrained from eating anything/anybody who had to die for my dinner, but ate as much cheese as I could get my hands on.  I knew very little about vegan­ism and why some chose that lifestyle.  But I knew that “Vegans” were social outcasts who only wore black and had lots of pierc­ings.  Way too extreme!

It’s not diffi­cult to under­stand why some abstain from consum­ing the flesh of an animal, but to not want to consume animal byprod­ucts is a little harder to grasp.  One day I met lovely family who had chosen to devote their lives to saving animals.  I immedi­ately looked up to this family and was impressed with the good that they were doing in the world.  They were smart, funny and saving animals!  How cool!  Suddenly I found out that they all were vegan!  Such commend­able, intel­li­gent, and civilized people, VEGAN?  I decided that maybe it was time for me to do a little research and find out what caused some people to go to such extremes.

I wasn’t surfing for very long before I was overwhelmed with horri­ble facts, figures and images of the animals that produce dairy and eggs.  My eyes were wide and my heart sunk with all of this new infor­ma­tion before me.  To eat an animal meant that someone had to be killed, but to eat the byprod­ucts of an animal required that someone had to live a long hard life as a slave.  The mothers that produce milk and eggs for us have drawn-out lives filled with entrap­ment, mutila­tion, and rape.

The hens who produce our eggs are confined to a tiny cage in a dark build­ing for their entire lives; until their bodies are so worn out they can produce no more.

For a female cow to produce milk she must be kept in a constant cycle of being impreg­nated, giving birth, having her baby taken away, and then having her milk drained.  These mothers are treated like nothing more than milk making machines.  Nothing about their lives is fair nor natural.  They are artifi­cially insem­i­nated, caged, and hooked up to a machine that takes their milk.  Their tails are often cut off so that they don’t get in the way or conta­m­i­nate the milk.  After several years like this, once they are physi­cally and emotion­ally spent these mothers are also sent to slaugh­ter. Their broth­ers at least would have been put out of their misery years before.

All of this so that we can drink the milk what is naturally intended for baby cows.  Now I ask myself which is really the extreme?

In north India there is a holy city called Rishikesh.   It is a paradise for yoga loving vegetar­i­ans.   The respect for cows fills the air here.  As they roam freely, visitors and residents alike gently stroke their foreheads and offer them treats of fruits and vegeta­bles.  Through the streets traffic patiently waits for the noble beasts to pass.

Here especially, the cow is consid­ered sacred and no meat is allowed in the entire city!  But plenty of milk is consumed.  I decided to pop into a small family run dairy just off of the main drag in Rishikesh. I figured that if anywhere in the world mother cows would be treated well it would be here.  If there was anywhere that I could have a guilt free cheese sandwich it should be here.  The follow­ing photos are from this small family run dairy.

Inside the barn 40–50 dairy cows spent their days.



This handsome bull is respon­si­ble for keeping all of the females impreg­nated. The family is very proud of him. They keep him safely in this spot, never letting him move freely.


Young females are kept in this pen until they are old enough to start produc­ing their own young.



This baby boy was just few days old. He was clearly under­weight and weak stand­ing in the middle of the barn, not allowed to go near his mother.


A devas­tated mother watches from afar as her baby boy starves to death. Since he is male he is of no use. The milk that his mother produces will be consumed only by humans.



The panic in this mothers eyes is clear, but she is tied and unable to get near her dying son



The workers at the dairy keep a close watch on the baby bulls as they perform their other duties. Making sure that the bulls and mothers stay separate.



There was nothing to be done for this little boy. He had no value and is only a byprod­uct of the dairy industry.


Why Vegan?  Now a days vegan­ism is gaining popular­ity.  Celebri­ties, business people, and rebel­lious teenagers alike are choos­ing to abstain from animal products.  Most people are turning to vegan­ism for health reasons.  For me, I am vegan for them.




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11 Responses to Why Vegan?

  1. emma haswell says:

    thank you, thank you, thank you, a story told so well.

  2. Chakravarthi says:

    Thanks for the infor­ma­tion. Hope, this will answer some nagging minds. I am from India, Though We respect Cows, Indeed with business the Diary Indus­try has to go through all this Rape. We can only make the change what we can make.

  3. Mariam says:

    Thank you for this story…I am not yet vegan…but I have firmly deter­mined to become vegan. I am passed my 50’s and had no idea about the suffer­ing on the animals caused by us, our bad habits…but now that I know, I can no longer ignore it…I love animals too much to contribute to their suffer­ing. Your story but also many infor­ma­tion I have read have opened my eyes. I will never wear being a vegan as a badge of honor as I have seen/ heard some do to others , it is judge­men­tal …but I would wear it as a badge of love for them…total love for them. I appre­ci­ate the fact that as you told your story, you did not judge those who are not vegan…you simply told us why…and I thank you for it .

    • Loretta westbrook says:

      I became vegan at fifty, I am now sixty five, I am so glad I did this and at last listened to my heart. I want to encour­age others and let them know it is never too late to change.

  4. Tina Takach says:

    So very very sad… I can’t under­stand the ways of our world.…I hope there is a better place when I leave here… I believe there is and that is how I try to get through every day. Julie..you really had to stand by and watch this???

  5. Monlam says:

    Very gud writing. i believe as long as animals are our property, their inter­est will never matter no matter how well we treat them. i think vegan­ism is the only solution!! i’ve been vegan for the past 3 years nd have never felt so gud

  6. gutta maria fernandes mendes says:

    Que triste, como pode o ser humano sertão ruim tão insen­sível, estou com o coração despedaçado.…pensei que o povo indiano não era tão ruim…go vegan

  7. Nandita Shah says:

    thank you for bring­ing this to the screen. would it be possi­ble to use some of your photos for educa­tional purposes?


  8. Himani says:

    Hi julie…thank you so much for this, Im from india and here people often come up with the reason­ing that cows are sacred and especially in places like rishikesh, varanasi etc the animals are loved and well looked after. Which is an accept­able reason­ing, if one is not exposed to the truth. These images are invalu­able that way and beauti­fully put together. And so is the flow of the write up, i will be refer­ring a lot of people to this page

  9. sejal says:

    Thanks for all the photog­ra­phy work. A lot of us always knew such stuff happens every­where in India, and Hrishikesh is no excep­tion. But you brought some evidence to it.

  10. Jeannie says:

    Thank you for the effort and heart you put into making this … very well summed up.
    I would like to get the atten­tion of Hare Krishna’s all over the western world. Here (n Australia) they run many very success­ful restau­rants, with the major­ity of the dishes using a great deal of dairy. They ask for donations for their ‘cow protec­tion’ projects on their farms, and while I’m sure that the few lucky cows (male and female) that end up on their farms are well cared for and loved. I find it very hypocrit­i­cal that they buy so much mainstream dairy products that come from factory farms. There­fore they are directly support­ing the killing of 700,000 calves (in one year alone in Australia) because they are consid­ered ‘waste products’. Not to mention a lifetime of emotional and physi­cal suffer­ing of the mother cows:( How can they say they truly love and honour cows and still do this?

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