In early 2013, I decided I no longer wanted to eat meat. And as bizarre as it sounds, it all started with my dog.
My partner and I adopted a puppy, and I fell completely in love with him. He was so small, so helpless, and so affectionate.
One day I looked him in the eyes and thought, ‘How on earth can I love a puppy this much, and grimace at the thought of him being hurt, but support the abuse of the pigs, cows, and chickens I regularly consume? How does that make any sense?’
For many people, including myself, the realisation that you're consuming animals who have been bred in appalling environments and (sometimes brutally) killed is one you can't come back from.
But once I stopped eating meat, something became glaringly obvious: by identifying as a vegetarian, I had opened myself up to unprecedented criticism. Immediately, friends and family wanted to challenge me on every aspect of my lifestyle, and point out how it contradicted with my new-found philosophy.
"Well, your shoes are leather!" people would point out, even though they were shoes I had bought years earlier, and I couldn't see how throwing them out would help anyone.
"But you still eat eggs!" friends would argue, as though as a human you have two choices: to be a devout vegan or to chow down mindlessly on meat.