End Animal Slaughter contributor Paul Stevenson reflects on the true meaning of veganism.

Sometimes people criticise vegans by accusing them of pretending to be better than others. I believe it is a great mistake for anyone to pretend that they are better than others, and it is a sure way to alienate them. However, my own life is immeasurably better now than it was before I became vegan because I now have the priceless joys of a clear conscience and peace in my heart.

It saddens me to think that a lot of people feel threatened by the word vegan, and I believe this reflects a misunderstanding of what being vegan means. Being vegan is primarily about living a kind and caring life by not harming others. Only by cherishing others, and the environment, can our lives ever hope to bloom. A vegan diet is merely a means to that end, not an end in itself, as some people appear to believe. It is not about losing anything; on the contrary, it is about gaining Life itself.

People everywhere dream of happiness and peace. However, they fail to realise their dreams because of the way they behave. Peace and happiness are the consequences of a peaceful and caring life. They are forever denied to those who inflict monstrous, and totally unnecessary, suffering on innocent creatures.

As a species we have taken the wrong track in life. Not only are we not realising our dreams but we are destroying ourselves in the pursuit of false pleasures. We have no need of animal foods and both our physical and emotional lives are vastly better without them. The greatest tragedy of all is that in our fruitless quest for pleasure we are causing unspeakable, unimaginably horrible suffering to multitudes of our fellow creatures. As we brutalise them we ourselves become brutes. The peaceful heart and the bloody hand do not inhabit the same body.

Last, but not least, we are not only destroying our humanity by our callous behaviour but the very environment on which we all depend. We must therefore make drastic changes while there is still time.

Parents who profess to care about their children are effectively stealing their future by the choices they make today. Their lifestyle is truly their children’s deathstyle. They are bequeathing them a wilderness. We must mend our ways without delay, or there will be no future for anyone.  Adopting a vegan lifestyle would do much to turn this dire situation around.

If we truly care about our children we must begin caring about the environment and its inhabitants, upon which we all depend. The funny thing is that when we do begin to care we see through new eyes. We begin to appreciate this wonderful world for the first time. We realise how enormously privileged we are to have been born in the first place.  When we begin to cherish our fellow companions, and treat them kindly and with respect, our heart softens and swells, and overflows with joy.  We begin to see the world through their eyes, and our spirit tingles as never before.   As our minds and hearts expand, sunlight floods into our lives and far horizons extend before us endlessly.  In a very real sense, becoming vegan is ‘one small step for man, and one giant leap for mankind’.

Paul with two of his porcine companions, Tommy and Jimmy.