Why it's essential
If you don't want to contribute to the hurting and killing of animals, it's essential to go vegan. That means, at the very least, you don't buy products that require violence toward animals: meat, milk, cheese, eggs, leather and fur. Intellectually, it's only common sense. But it can be hard to make that leap in practice because we've been indoctrinated since birth to choose to eat and consume animals, from pictures of happy cows and chickens in advertisements to the very language that distances from the animal as an individual being with wants, feelings and friendships: pork and ham (not pigs), hamburger and steak (not cows), drumsticks and chicken (not chickens). We find it easy to be outraged about people who raise dogs for slaughter in China or experiment on monkeys in laboratories, yet we are responsible for cows, chickens and pigs being hurt and killed simply because we're worried what our friends will think. Never mind that we would have no problem if someone mentioned dietary needs to us because of allergies or religious doctrine — we'd never think twice that those friends were inconveniencing us. Yet somehow we think so little of our friends that we don't believe they'll be able to handle our veganism, either because they might feel inconvenienced or judged. Surely there's something they're passionate about, too, that you accept. It's important to live your values. And if not contributing to violence toward animals is part of your values, then be proud. Veganism is a wonderful, life-affirming philosophy. Once you become vegan, you won't understand what took you so long.