My Veganuary series has been great! I have loved sharing the stories of other vegans. Thank you to everyone so far for taking part.
Hi, my name is Jaylynn Gaudreau. I became a vegan on December 16, 2014.
I grew up on a traditional family farm in Alberta, Canada. We had cattle, pigs & chickens. We grew various crops & had a large vegetable garden. My family also hunted & fished. When I was very young, the animals were my friends. I used to lick salt with the cows & always felt protected with them. I used to cuddle & pet the chickens & watched over the baby chicks to make sure they stayed warm under the heat lamp. I used to love petting the pigs too, they were always so curious. My favourite, was a pig named George. He used to walk along my side in the pig pen & I used to sleep in the straw with my head resting on his belly under the warm mid-morning sun.
Eventually, as often happened on the farm, he was sold. I missed him dearly. As I got older, and became accustomed to the normalcy of it all, I even helped with chicken slaughter, helping to capture the chickens so that my Dad could cut off their heads. The same chickens I cuddled. I remember walking out of the chicken coup after all the chickens were caught and seen one of the heads on the ground, still gasping for air. It haunts me to this day. The worst, I didn’t even see, but heard.
When my Dad slaughtered the pigs, before they died, they screamed. It was not a squeal, it was a scream. The betrayal of trust they must have felt, the terror, at the hands of the human they had entrusted with feeding them and caring for them. That is a sound I will never forget. All the animals cried out in their own way before dying really. The chickens would flutter & squawk trying to get away. The cows moos were louder & the whole herd mooed.
I think, because of my special connection to George, I never liked pork foods like ham & bacon, but still ate processed meat for a time. When I was in my early twenties, I stopped eating beef & pork entirely because of the health risks and I had just come to dislike the taste. I ate a lot of vegetables, so much so, that people sometimes thought I was vegetarian. I ate organic & “humane” whenever possible. However, my disconnect continued for many years as I ate poultry, fish, dairy & eggs. I wore leather & fur-trimmed items. It was just normal.
Allergies and intolerances
Then, as my thirties turned into forties, I began developing arthritis, I occasionally had kidney stones, I had pms breast pain, acne continued from my teens. About three months after turning forty, I developed multiple food allergies. I figured out that I was allergic to wheat, barley, rye, corn, rice, oats, nuts, coconut & preservatives. That’s when I really started to question whether my healthy diet was healthy enough. The doctors have no answers to what is the root cause of food allergies, blaming it on stress. So I began to look into chemicals, diet, food preparation. I would come across the occasional information about health benefits of veganism but could not see myself giving up the foods I thought I loved.
Then, on the March Against Monsanto Facebook page was a YouTube link, Best Speech Ever. I clicked on it and when the guy announced himself as Gary Yourofsky and that he was vegan, I almost clicked off. Then I thought, I should really listen to what he has to say, I am open-minded, after all. By the time that speech finished, I was vegan. He reminded me of the friendship I once shared with the animals on the farm. I cried, grieving my dear friend George, most of all.
I was nervous about how this was going to work, especially with having so many food allergies. I decided, the best way was to categorize it in my mind as the same as food allergies. As I researched and discovered so many great recipes and new foods, I realized I wasn’t giving up anything, but just finding new ways to get the flavours I liked, without the harm. I still have leather boots that I have had since 2002, because I can’t afford to replace them. Everything else in my clothing, purse and wallet has been changed and it doesn’t bother me at all.
It took me a month to come out to my spouse & my friends & family. For the most part, they have all been understanding & my heavy meat eating spouse has been very supportive, expressing that he is proud of me. Still, he won’t change, but I’ve loved him for 25 years, just as he is. He is in charge of his own choices. It can be difficult trying to navigate my relationships with my ethical decision to go vegan. Some days, I want to just grab them and shake them into waking up. Instead, I try to share as gently as I hope I am, the benefits and the changes.
The arthritis is almost nothing now, with just the occasional twinges. My skin has cleared up quite a lot, my fingernails & hair is stronger and nicer than they’ve ever been. But the best part, ALL of my food allergies are now gone. About three months after going vegan, I tried oatmeal with allergy pills ready, but I didn’t need them. Since then, I slowly introduced other foods until finally, just last month, I ate wheat toast for the first time in almost five years!
I saw info about Veganuary approximately four months after going vegan. As a new vegan, I followed a lot of vegan pages & a few groups, and am willing to listen to every vegan voice, even the harsh ones. However, I really liked how understanding and supportive the Veganuary group is. It is a group you can be comfortable to be new and ask questions. Since then, I try to help out other newbies in the group, if I can. I think it keeps me from being too judgemental & the newbies give me hope that the people I love will eventually wake up too. If a farm kid like me can do this, anybody can.