(ed: i had a similar experience to watson – at age 12-13 a group of men thought it would make a man of me – to slit a sheeps’ throat…
i dunno about making a man of me – but it certainly helped me to become a vegan..)
At the age of 14 – Donald Watson watched as a terrified – screaming pig was slaughtered on his family farm.
In this British boy’s eyes this was murder.
Watson stopped eating meat and eventually gave up dairy as well.
Later as an adult in 1944 Watson realised that others shared his interest in a plant-only diet.
And thus veganism – a term he coined – was born.
Watson’s legacy ripples through our culture.
Even though only 3 per cent of Americans identify as vegan – most people seem to have an unusually strong opinion about these fringe foodies – one way or the other.
It’s an ideology not a choice
Like other alternative food movements such as locavorism – veganism arises from a belief structure that guides eating decisions.
They aren’t simply moral high-grounders.
Vegans do believe it’s ethical to avoid animal products but they also believe it’s healthier and better for the environment.
Also just like Donald Watson’s story – veganism is often rooted in early life experiences.
Psychologists recently discovered that having a larger variety of pets as a child increases tendencies to avoid eating meat as an adult.
Growing up with different sorts of pets increases concern for how animals are treated more generally.
Thus when a friend opts for Tofurky this holiday season – rather than one of the 45 million turkeys consumed for Thanksgiving – his decision isn’t just a high-minded choice.
It arises from beliefs that are deeply held and hard to change.