Photo: flickr/Evan Leeson

Join in taking the Vegan Challenge from April 22-29, 2015. RSVP on our Facebook event page, share your ideas and invite your friends! Recipes, stories, ideas, and more.

I am sixty-year old grandmother, artist, amateur photographer, gardener and avid reader.  Six years ago I started to thoroughly investigate the impacts of animal agriculture and I was determined to leave no stone unturned.  I steeled myself to not look away when the brutality of what we do to farmed animals was all too apparent and painful.  And it was incredibly painful; my  

“looking” brought me to my knees.  It wasn’t as though I hadn’t had the urge to look before.  My husband and I had raised our children on wholesome food using recipes gleaned from France Moore Lappe’s Diet for a Small Planet and several of the Moosewood Cookbook classics.  We had, however, continued to eat some meat and dairy and I had kept my discomfort locked away.

As the destruction of our beautiful Earth has continued on through the decades unabated, my soul-searching left me with the only ethical option I could live with if I wanted to be consistent with the values I said were dear to me as an environmentalist, a feminist and seeker of equality and social justice–my husband and I embraced a vegan diet.

We have never looked back.

We eat splendidly.  We believe we have chosen a path that still leaves a footprint, to be sure, but our steps now have a softer touch and are hearts are significantly lighter.  Knowing that industrial animal agriculture keeps unfathomable numbers of farmed animals in the most hideous conditions is not a secret any of us can pretend to ignore any longer.  My husband and I chose this lifestyle for the animals and the environment but we also believe that plant agriculture has the best chance of feeding a hungry world.  There is plenty of evidence to support this assertion.  Too this, I would add that there is overwhelming evidence proving that animal agriculture is the number one contributor to global warming–we are in willful denial to claim otherwise or, we are slaves to our habits and pleasures.

There are people in the world who are supported by subsistence hunting and gathering lifestyles and we know that the activities of these groups are not the cause of our most dire earthly problems. As well, we know that their well-being can be negatively impacted by our desires. Clearly, our lifestyle choices have the potential to impose far-reaching impacts on the planet and all of its inhabitants, both human and non-human.

Going vegan requires no inconvenience, protest or lobby. One does not have to wait for government or corporations to act. It is easy; one simply stops eating meat and dairy. There are a myriad of delicious, compassionate and earth-friendlier alternatives to animal products. I believe the animal-free contents of my shopping cart communicate my family’s environmental values far more effectively than the reusable cloth bags I pack my groceries in.

I am very concerned to see environmental groups focus most of their efforts on big oil while ignoring the animal agricultural issue. Any way you cut it, meat should not be on the environmentalist’s table. I am looking forward to seeing environmentalism evolve toward a human ecology that embraces a green vegan ethic. I must say, the world owes Frances Moore Lappe a debt of gratitude — she had it almost entirely right from the very beginning with her  

plant-based diet for this small, beautiful blue-green planet. All we have to do is step up to the plate with convictions that affirm life.

My only regret with all of this is that I did not act on my impulse to stop eating animals decades ago.  I tell myself it is better late than never, but nonetheless I still feel the cognitive dissonance that I carried with me during those years.

Pulitzer prize-winning war correspondent, Chris Hedges recently published some powerful pieces on animal agriculture and the vegan response.  Look him  

up.  If you have not yet seen the documentary Cowspiracy, please do so.  Go to and click on buy.  You can download the entire documentary for just $1.00—it works, my husband and I watched it in celebration of Earth Day.

Colleen Watson-Turner lives in rural Saskatchewan, you can find her on flickr at flickr/redcalfstudio

Join in taking the Vegan Challenge from April 22-29, 2015. RSVP on our Facebook event page, share your ideas and invite your friends! Recipes, stories, ideas, and more.