Hi, and greetings from Bangalore. I'm a life-long vegetarian, although most people take that word for granted. Let me then clarify: I've never eaten meat, although I've nibbled on it by accident when it was found in 'vegetarian' food; mostly at cafeterias and other food vending places. I've always been able to smell/taste the funk of meat and know what it was instinctively so I always spit it out. I was one of the kids that drank 1-2 glasses of milk every day because my parents had me convinced it was healthy and that I'd become short and weak without it. I stopped drinking milk regularly when I was around 14 but continued to consume yogurt and the 'hidden' dairy in various products that flood the Indian market. I've consumed eggs off and on till about 2 years ago. I knew eating eggs was morally objectionable to me, but sometimes I didn't think my moral fiber was strong enough to go the extra mile. As a result I abstained from eggs for periods of years at a time, while I would eat them in moments of weakness when in products such as cakes. Leather, wool and silk were things I just didn't think about until very recently because in all honesty, not many people are raised to think about these at all.
All this changed when I saw the "Meet your meat" video by PETA when I was an undergraduate student in the USA. Although I had never eaten meat, it opened my eyes to animal cruelty in general. I decided that it was time for me to do something drastic and thus spent the entire summer of 2004 as a vegan. Those 4 months were the first time I abstained from dairy, milk chocolate, ice cream, etc. Those very same months also saw me eating more wholesome foods and I found myself cooking more meals for myself and they also tended to be pretty healthful. I was also exposed to the vegan alternatives to ice cream and other animal-based foods during this period. After that summer, I relapsed back to a vegetarian diet due to a number of reasons which I have now come to regret. Yet, the 5 years since were crucial in cementing my beliefs which I trust will last for the rest of my life and I always thought about going back to being vegan. It was not until a vegan haloween party in Seattle in 2009 that I decided to flip the switch back to being vegan. It finally made sense and I had run out of excuses. I'm glad to report that I haven't looked back since. My vegan diet has helped me maintain my physical body in peak health and I find mental clarity beyond anything I have ever experienced before.
Its been a great learning experience and the people I've met since have been wonderful friends and gracious teachers. I'm still learning and hope that my insignificant contribution will become significant through the example that I set for my friends and peers. I'm glad to have the support of fellow vegans in Bangalore as the regular meetings help build camaraderie.
Shoot me a line if you feel like it. I'm always up for a chat.