How and why I became a vegan... 

There are people that can't understand this and can't accept that we won't have any more animal products in our house. So let me explain. 

When I was little, we lived in Belgium, in a little town close to Brussels, in a somewhat cosmopolitan environment,  you might even say that it was an artificial environment. There we were very happy indeed. And every summer on our holidays we went to the north of the Netherlands, Friesland, where my family originates from. We, especially us kids, loved it there. There was an enormous contrast between the big city and the countryside. My grandfather and his wife, who we liked a lot, had a dairy farm with Friesian cows, ancestors of the black and white Prim 'Holstein that you can see around here in France.

In the first photo you can see me with a goat in my arms and in the next photo my little brother in front of a newly born calf . The birth of a calf was a great moment, an unforgettable experience, but on the other hand could also end up in a total nightmare. Because if it was a small male calf, the merchant came to take it away. I still remember it very well. And I was very, very angry with my parents, my grandfather and especially with the merchant. But " that's how it is", no explanation given. At that time (the 60s) this was totally normal. No questions asked. It's only an animal.

So what do you do? You're only little, you have to accept it, you forget, and there were so many other animals to cuddle on that farm. You live your life. And for a long time you fit in and do as the others do. Please note that my big brother became a vegetarian when he was 15. We didn't really understand why and we even made jokes about him ....  Yes, because that's what society makes you do, how it brainwashes you. If you don't follow the norms.

As for my husband and I, we became vegetarian a lot later, as a matter of fact only once we came to live in France. We were warmly welcomed  by our neighbors, and we were invited to see their farms from the inside with chickens, turkeys, ducks, rabbits, quail, cows. Although they were all very proud of the care that they took of their animals, it was clear that they cared about the health of the animals only so far as it affected their production. It was clear from the smell of ammonia and the mess inside a chicken shed that the welfare of the animals wasn't a consideration.

The turning point however for our change in live-style,  our consciousness that is, was when we rescued two little chicks from a broiler farm. So we stopped eating poultry. After that, it all went very fast. Because when you don't eat poultry, how could you continue eating pigs and cows, and why not eat dogs or cats? We became aware of the concept of  Speciesism, which means  that we were discriminating against all farm animals but in the meantime helping, saving, adoring our beloved  pet animals.  So after that pigs and finally all meat was kept off our plate and now even fish, dairy products and eggs (except for the eggs of our chickens and geese, because what a shame it would be to throw them away - please note that we have them because we like having them, they are our pets, we don't have them for their eggs). 

I still wear my leather coat, which I bought now almost 20 years ago, yes, but new shoes are vegan. Veganism is not a religion, it is not a fashion. It is a live-style, an awareness that what we do to animals is wrong. I already felt this when I was little, and I feel it very strongly now. And I'm sorry if it bothers others. But as was said to me 40 years ago "that's how it is". 

A couple of days ago we went to visit a friend of ours who rescued some dairy calves, two males of course,  waste products from the dairy industry. But how  adorable were they!  We can live very well without hurting animals, so why won't we! On the facebook page of Nala I very regularly share images that might shock some people. But it is necessary to show them. I feel it is my duty to show them. I congratulate all those associations, not only in France but all over the world, that ensure that the world sees what goes on behind those walls. As Paul McCartney said so wisely,  “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” And I would prefer to change this into vegan! Because also dairy cows, calves, goats and their babies and all laying hens end up in these same slaughterhouses. I am pretty sure in the long term everyone will come to this awareness, if they want to see it, if they can see it. Thanks for reading this very personal note ! And please think about it! Go vegan. 

Marit de Haan

president of Nala