The following is from a speech given by Louise Wallis, former president of the Vegan Society, UK, at the national ‘March for Farmed Animals’ on 2nd October 2010 (World Farm Animals Day) in London.
I'm going to keep my speech pretty short. Thanks to the organisers for allowing me to speak, and thank you all for coming today. What a great event!
We are here because we all care about farmed animals, and because we don't want them to suffer.
The single most effective thing we can do to stop the suffering of farm animals is to go vegan. Being vegetarian is not enough, because you are still relying on farm animals for food. Farmed animals will only be free when we stop using them for food - of any kind.
Sadly, veganism still suffers from a poor image. Vegans are seen as self-sacrificing, hair-shirt-wearing idealists who lead deprived, difficult and miserable lives.
People say things like: "Oh I don't know how you do it, I could never be vegan". This drives me nuts, and makes me laugh - as it could not be further from the truth. I have been vegan for 28 years and I can honestly say it's the best thing I ever did. I went vegan out of concern for animals, but I quickly realised that being vegan was good for me too!
I feel happier, healthier, and I enjoy my food far more than I did before going vegan. We need to turn on its head the idea that vegans are deprived or missing out. On the contrary, it enhances your life, and makes it better, not worse!
It certainly makes life less complicated. As a vegetarian you could drive yourself mad trying to ensure you only ate free range eggs, or vegetarian cheese - as few food manufacturers or restaurants bother using these.
For this reason, vegetarians relax their standards and eat ordinary cheese - the stuff you find in supermarkets, restaurants, takeaways - despite the fact that dead calves are used to make it. The rennet used to make cheese is obtained from their stomachs. Which makes you sick to the stomach when you think about it.
Go vegan I say, it's A LOT simpler!
I think it's high time we reclaimed the word vegan too. i've noticed that many groups promote vegetarianism rather than veganism, because they worry that it will alienate supporters. I disagree. The more we use the word vegan, the more appealing it will become.
All we are doing when we avoid using the word vegan is internalising the negative messages and stereotyping that our critics invent to discredit us. We should never be ashamed of who we are, and what we stand for: non-violence.Vegetarianism is a red herring. People go vegetarian in the belief that milk and eggs are 'freely given' or "humanely produced', but we know that this is a lie.
We all want people to go vegan, it's a damn sight easier being vegan than it is trying to be an ethical vegetarian, so let's not be afraid to say: "look, do yourself a favour and don't bother with vegetarianism - go vegan".
That's what farmed animals would say if they could.
World Vegan Day is an annual event celebrated on 1 November, by vegans around the world. The Day was established in 1994 by Louise Wallis, then President and Chair of the The Vegan Society UK. 2010 marks the 66th anniversary of veganism and the Society.