My Journey Toward Veganism

Me and Esperanza at Animal Acres in Acton, Ca.

I was a vegetarian for 12 years, and although I wasn’t eating meat, I was still consuming dairy and eggs. I didn’t drink glasses of milk or eat omelets, but I did enjoy baked goods that were made with eggs and pizza and pasta dishes with cheese, and I loved dairy ice cream. I somehow rationalized to myself that because I wasn’t eating the actual animal, I wasn’t playing a role in the animal’s suffering or being killed. And I guess I thought “hens lay eggs regardless” and “cows give milk regardless, so what/who does it hurt for me to eat those products?” At the time, I didn’t realize how cruel and abusive the dairy and egg industries really are; so I continued to consume those products, all the while, thinking I was helping animals.

It wasn’t until I was accepted for an internship at a farm animal sanctuary that I came full circle and embraced veganism (this includes diet, clothing, entertainment, etc.). I was ecstatic to be working with an organization that advocates for farmed animals and gives them a safe place to live out their lives. What a dream! Though I must admit, I was a little nervous about eating vegan during my stay and I wasn’t completely sure what to think. How could I ever give up cheese?! But I saw it as a challenge and if anything, I figured I would give it a try.

I spent a lot of time hanging out with the hens and the cows, learning their individual personalities. The hens liked to be petted and they made purring sounds when content. One of the hens would curl up on my lap and fall asleep while I stroked her feathers. The cows were gentle giants who loved chin scratches and to give kisses. I even got to bottle feed a newly rescued calf! To see such happiness in these animals’ eyes, it was hard to believe they all had such dark pasts.

During investigations we always find dead and dying hens. Here, a dead hen lays on the conveyor belt that efficiently collected and took her eggs away. Photo and text by Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals.

I learned that hens have their sensitive beaks and toes cut off mutilated without anesthesia and the conditions they are forced to live in are beyond atrocious…and once they can’t lay any more eggs, they are killed for soup and other cheap, processed products. I also learned that cows are repeatedly raped – kept in a constant state of pregnancy in order to produce milk – only to have their newborn calves instantly torn away from them and their milk stolen.

Born with ropes around her legs, she is literally enslaved to us from birth. Photo and text from Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals.

Spending time with hens who had been rescued from hatcheries and cows who were freed from the chains of the dairy industry, instantly changed my perspective, and my participation, in these exploitative and violent industries. The experience not only opened my eyes but my heart. Looking back, three years vegan – the only regret I have is not going vegan sooner. I can’t believe I was so silly to think it would be difficult to eat vegan; when in reality, the possibilities of plant-based foods are endless! I don’t miss dairy or eggs one bit, and my heart has never felt lighter! I’ve never been happier, knowing I’m no longer contributing to the suffering and death of billions of animals.

To learn more about the harsh truth of the dairy and egg industries, please click here. For more information on adopting a vegan diet (and lifestyle), please visit and be sure to join in the conversation on our Live Vegan Community page.


Maggie Funkhouser is the Communications Manager for FARM. She has a Bachelor of Science in Geoenvironmental Studies with a Minor in Biology from Shippensburg University.  She shares her home with her husband and their 5 rescued cats and 2 rescued dogs.

6 thoughts on “My Journey Toward Veganism

  1. These cruel and violent treatments of innocent animals must stop!!! There Must be a way to give relief to these warm sensitive creatures!!! Please help them!!!!

  2. I went Vegan recently and also feel that one can’t go half-assed and stay a vegetarian for long. Although there should be a transition from carnivore to herbivore, one should be exposed to the current literature by animals rights orgs. I also made the mistake of going back from being a vegetarian to being a carnivore and that I feel cost me my health and mental well-being overall.
    I was depressed. Now I consider myself a true Environmentalist, because I took the first step which is being a Vegan. I feel with my causes, I am fulfilled.
    Becoming a Vegan is the best thing that happened to me!

  3. Leaving this message for Maggie. I have been vegetarian now for almost four years, I have tried a couple times going vegan and was just wondering if you had any more advice on it. I live in the heart of cheese country in Wisconsin. I really don’t eat much dairy because I have always been lactose intolerant. Thanks for the article and what you do for animals!

  4. Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for the comment. And I appreciate you reading my post. I understand it can be difficult going vegan, even if you’ve been a vegetarian for awhile. As you read, I’ve been there. So the only other advice I can give is to continue to educate yourself on the benefits of eating vegan and remember why you stopped eating meat in the first place. And get in the kitchen! I am definitely in the kitchen a lot more now that I eat vegan. When grocery shopping, I searched out familiar foods (and brands) and just made sure to purchase the vegan items. I found new brands that I’ve come to really enjoy and my menu has expanded from exploring new recipes. It’s also really easy to “veganize” your favorite meals. There are countless plant-based replacements for eggs and dairy products. The vegan mayonnaise I use now is WAY better than the mayonnaise that uses eggs. So start reading the ingredients labels and avoid words like whey and casein, which are found in dairy milk. And take it one day at a time, one meal at a time. Eventually, it will happen.

    Here are a few books that have helped me:

    Vegan in 30 Days by Sarah Taylor
    Skinny Bitch and Skinny Bitch in the Kitch (recipes) by Rory Freeman and Kim Barnouin.
    The China Study by T. Colin Campbell (I have the audio book bc it is a long book. I listened to it in the car when commuting for work. 20yrs of diet research on the links between casein (dairy milk protein) and cancer growth. Interesting stuff.)

    FARM Resources:
    Live Vegan Community Page on Facebook

    I hope you find this information helpful and please let know if you have more questions.

    Maggie Funkhouser
    Communications Manager

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