In December 1963 I became a Buddhist because a friend challenged me to read a book. Because of the teaching of Ahimsa (non-cruelty towards all sentient beings), I decided to become a vegetarian. I tried several times and I failed several times. My first attempt was my eating cottage cheese and cheese to almost the exclusion of everything else. I got very sick. I was a steak and potato man so I did not like veggies. I did manage to cut back on my consumption of flesh but that was not enough for me. I wanted to become a vegetarian. My next major move was to not eat flesh most days of the week. When I did eat flesh it was usually a large steak. That was not enough but I just did not know how to make the final step. Then I remembered that when I was about ten, we had a landlord that was a Seventh Day Adventist vegetarian. He was not very strict but his wife was. My mother kept tempting him with her baked rabbit baked in wine. He would eat it and when he left we made fun of him. His wife would not give in to the temptation and we somewhat respected her.
Anyway, I remembered the two of them and of course my religion so I came up with an idea. I went to a Seventh Day Adventist hospital about 20 miles from my home and found out that they had a vegetarian cafeteria. One day while eating there I met a Seventh Day Adventist man about my age and we had a long talk. He told me about a church grocery store that had vegetarian food including imitation flesh. That was what I needed and I received permission to shop at their church store even though I was not a follower of their religion. That was in August 1967 and I never went back to eating flesh.
I thought that I was following the teaching of Ahimsa. After all I use to be a hunter and fisherman which I gave up the day that I became Buddhist. Having grown up from age one to nine in Lincoln, Kansas, I never saw cattle, chickens, or other animals being mistreated. So I never thought anything about eating dairy or eggs. It was not until I discovered "Veggies Unite!" at the beginning of the Internet that things again changed. The vegans on the list showed me that animals were being mistreated just so we could eat eggs and dairy. I did not know that male chicks were killed shortly after birth because they did not have economic value. That was basically the same with male calves except they were eaten as veal. When milk cows or egg producing chickens slowed down producing what people ate they were thanked by being killed and eaten. In August 1996 I became a vegan and never went back.
So let me review. My friend challenged me to read a book on Buddhism. My religion made me decide to become a vegetarian. The Seventh Day Adventists helped me to become a vegetarian. Vegans on "Veggies Unite!" opened my eyes to what Ahimsa really meant. Where would I be today if I did not convert to Buddhism and studied the teaching of Ahimsa. Would I have still remained a hunter and fisherman? Without the Seventh Day Adventists would I have ever become a vegetarian? I think that I eventually would have. Without the vegans on "Veggies Unite!" would I have ever become a vegan? I do not know. I do know that these events lead me to where I am today. I am a vegan!
Insert date: 2011-04-29 Last update: 2016-02-11