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Are Vegans Driven by Guilt?
After being a vegetarian for about seven years, I developed a severe gluten allergy and lactose intolerance. I began avoiding dairy (I already intensely disliked eggs) for this reason. After reading some statistics on farm animals, I was reluctant to use Lactaid milk or dairy with reduced lactose content because I felt extremely guilty knowing the kind of conditions dairy cows live in. Are feelings of guilt the reason why people choose to go vegan?
People become vegan because their eyes, minds, and hearts have been opened to a truth that the overwhelming majority of individuals worldwide hide or disguise: other animals feel pain and treasure their lives as much as we do. Once this awareness has been realized, it is hard to bury it again. Veganism, if practiced sincerely, pervades a practitioner’s life in many ways beyond food. The realization that all living beings suffer and want to live makes us more acutely aware of the vulnerability and fragility of all life -- both human and nonhuman -- and its fleetingness as well as its value.
The understanding that is at the core of being vegan has the potential to inspire us to become more compassionate people who make choices based on kindness, empathy, and love. This is a far cry from acting out of guilt, which implies fear, shame, and regret. When our mindset is one of peace and caring, our behaviors and decisions reflect this outlook, and choices based on compassion simply become second nature.
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