What have I done in 2020? Part 1 -- Becoming a vegan

2020 started a bit bumpy for me. (No I am not talking about COVID.) On the first day of the year, I was in a foreign country, suffering from a cold, taking a lonely flight back to Sweden, and heartbroken. The consequence of that day stayed with me for quite while. And then COVID came.

I had often imagined that I would not mind to be a astronaut and going for a mission to Mars all by myself. COVID proved me wrong. In the early days when I started to work from home, I could barely do anything.

But the isolation also forced me to ask myself a tough question --

How should I live the rest of my life?

To find the answer, I read and re-read many books in 2020. Here is what I have learned and what I have done accordingly.

Becoming a vegan

I did not eat too much meat and diary in recent years, but I never really thought about becoming fully a vegetarian, not to mention a vegan. My parents still tell stories about how exited I was when there were meat or fish on the table. One reason I loved holidays was that I could as much meat or fish as I wanted.

A few years ago, I came across this book -- Eat Like You Care.

Eat Like You Care

When I opened the first page, I saw these lines

Dedicated to the approximately 57 billion land animals and one trillion aquatic animals we will consume in the next year.

So much suffering.

So much death.

All so unnecessary.

All so wrong.

A tremendous sadness grabbed me and I put the book, among fifty other books on my to-read list, and forgot about it.

Finally I read it this year, which actual took very little time. It has very simple argument for veganism

  1. We should not harm animals without good reason
  2. There is no good reason for most of us to consume animal products
  3. There is tremendous harm done to animals in the production of meat and diary
  4. Conclusion: So we should not eat animal products

If you accept point 1, 2 and 3, there is simply no way to avoid the conclusion 4.

The book reminded me of a little story which happened when I was in elementary school. On that day, it rained heavily and the yard in front of my classroom became a pool. During a break, a little mole emerged from the water and tried to swim to where I and other kids were standing, where it was a bit high and still dry. For some reason, other kids found it funny to push the poor little thing back to the water whenever it got close to us. They were laughing but I was appalled by the cruelty. I was a shy boy and did dear to say anything. But it made me feel shameful for my silence even until today.


By Kenneth Catania, Vanderbilt University, CC BY-SA 3.0

But reading Eat Like You Care showed me that I should be much shameful for all the animals who died because I liked the taste of their dead body. What is more pathetic is that, some times I did that not even eat them for the taste, but simply not to annoy others.

The next book I read about veganism, is Animal Liberation by Peter Singer, which started animal right movement 40 years ago.

Animal Liberation

If the strength of Eat Like You Care comes from its simple yet clear philosophical argument, then Animal Liberation showed me the tremendous scale of animal suffering caused by modern factory farming. I cannot stop asking myself -- how can anyone still eat meat, egg or diary if they know where they come from?

That was more enough for me. Once I have learned the dark truth, I cannot forget about it. I can either admit I am still the kid who did not dare to do the right thing, or I can stop doing the harm by becoming a vegan, no matter who people think of me. And I decided it is better to take the second path.

The transition was actually quite easy, maybe thanks to the COVID. I have not eaten at any restaurant since March. And once I avoided buying meat or diary during grocery shopping, I never had the urge to go out just to buy a package of sausages. Occasionally I ate at university cafeteria. But they always have a vegetarian option and it actually saved me the trouble of choosing what to eat. I have also learn many vegan recipes. They are actually quite delicious and diverse.

Vegan food Vegan food Vegan food

On the health side, I did find plant based food is much easier to digest and avoiding milk completely stopped my occasional IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome). All in all, becoming vegan is one of the best decision which I have made this year, if not this life.