Posted by: barbaraneill | October 19, 2016

Why I went vegan

In 1978, just before Christmas, I decided to become a vegetarian. I didn’t like the idea of animals being killed for food, especially as it is unnecessary. Vegetarians have been surviving, quite happily, on a meat-free diet for long enough to make the point. To be honest, that Christmas was something of a challenge for me, food-wise, because it was all very new to me and at that time vegetarians were still quite rare. I soon got into the swing of my change in diet, though, and continued to witness a growing trend in vegetarianism over the years. 

Fast forward to the summer of 2015. My youngest son, Richard, who was seventeen at the time had been vegan for a year and was giving me a hard time because I was ‘only’ a vegetarian. He asked me if I was aware of the cruelty within the dairy industry. Of course, I knew that calves were snatched away from their mothers in order for the cows to provide milk, and killed for veal in the process, but I allowed myself the luxury of a fairly clear conscience on that score, thanks to the fact that I don’t actually like milk and never drink it. The problem I had was with cheese. I loved cheese and couldn’t imagine going through life without Stilton or Applewood smoked cheddar. This is where my conscience certainly wasn’t clear. For too long I had regarded the idea of giving up cheese as ‘me making a sacrifice’. It wasn’t until I finally faced the fact that any ‘sacrifice’ I would be making by giving up cheese was nothing compared with the sacrifice the animals were making. They didn’t have any choice in the matter, either.


My decision to adopt a vegan lifestyle eventually came about when our beloved (adopted) cat, Ashcroft, passed away on 10th July 2015. He’d been with us for fifteen years and, as he was an adult cat when we adopted him, we had no way of knowing the exact ‘ripe old age’ that he had lived to. What we did know, was that we loved him and missed him, terribly. I couldn’t see any logical reason why all those cows, pigs, sheep, chickens etc. shouldn’t be loved as much as Ashcroft was. They are all sentient beings with feelings and characters, just as he was. What I find incredible, is how some members of our culture can be horrified at the thought of eating dogs or cats, but will happily sit down to a steak meal, or a pork chop! It makes no sense to me whatsoever.


As far as I’m concerned, we simply don’t have the right to regard animals as commodities. They are not commodities. They are thinking, feeling beings and they deserve as much right to life as any of us. I can’t begin to imagine how frightened animals on their way to be slaughtered must feel. I know how I feel about it; sick to my stomach that we, as human beings, have taken it upon ourselves to treat innocent, defenceless animals in such an appalling way. There is no such thing as ‘humane’ slaughter and even before they get that far some of the ‘living’ conditions that these animals have to contend with are like something out of a dystopian novel. Far too many of them are treated as commodities throughout their lives which are, incidentally, all too often cut far shorter than their natural lifespan ought to be. Conditions that are too cramped for some of them to even be able to move, being pumped full of drugs to make them grow in a way that’s unnatural to them, but satisfying to the disgusting greed of human beings who would seek ‘efficiency’ in the production of meat.


Incidentally, my vegan lifestyle is far more than just a diet, as it encompasses compassion for all sentient beings, with no place for the abuse of animals in any of its forms but, as far as the diet is concerned, I’m delighted to see that more and more vegan options are appearing on restaurant menus as well as a steady increase in vegan products in the shops. Among those products, I’ve discovered a vegan mayonnaise which is, by far, the best mayonnaise I’ve ever tasted, vegan or otherwise. I’ve also found a blue ‘cheese’ salad dressing that satisfies my cravings for the flavour of Stilton and I’ve found that smoked paprika can do the same thing for my (former) love of Applewood smoked cheddar. In addition, I find I’ve become more adventurous in my cooking and I’m also eating more healthily than ever before. What’s more, I really do have a clear conscience now that I’m no longer a party to the systematic abuse of animals.

I have developed Conscious Eating; Mindful Meals to help with adopting a healthier way of eating. There’s more information here:




  1. […] already written an article about why I decided to adopt a vegan lifestyle; you can read it here:, but this is by way of a postscript, dealing more specifically with some of the myths around […]

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