The Film That Turned Us Vegan Overnight

Some people become vegan for ethical reasons, and others do it for health. The great thing about it is that both reasons are positive, and most vegans end up appreciating all of the benefits.

For me personally, I changed because of the ethical reasons first and foremost, and I’ve since discovered some fantastic health benefits of a plant-based diet.

It’s also important to note, that Masha and I literally became vegans overnight. There was no gradual process, we went cold turkey. In fact, on the same day that I turned vegan, I ordered a large chicken kebab, to go along with fries which were drenched in chicken salt. I enjoyed every last bit of it. Little did I know, that later that evening I would probably never eat that kebab again.

We made this impulsive decision all because of a film we watched. In literally just under two hours, this film completely changed my relationship with food. Like most of us, I was completely diconnected from where our food came from. I never thought twice about how my popcorn chicken was made. I just ate it blindly. But now things are completely different, as I can see much clearer now, and today I want to share my thought process behind making the decision to no longer consuming animal products.

Here’s my journal entry on the day I went vegan.

The resistance

I’ve flirted with the idea of veganism in the past but never really paused to think about the humane side of things. I mean who wants to know how animals get slaughtered when you’re trying to eat a juicy slab of meat?

This type of ignorant thinking has blinded me my whole life. Everytime Masha wanted to show me an article or a film about animal cruelty, I would deny her, as deep inside, I didn’t want to know. I couldn’t handle it.

But that day, I took it upon myself to learn more about how we treat animals. I first researched other people online who were already vegans. I read a few Zen Habits articles to get me started, which then lead to a few youtube videos.

I stumbled upon an Ellen Degeneres interview where she talked about her transition to veganism. She said that everything changed when she watched a documentary called Earthlings, which is narrated by Academy Award nominee Joaquin Pheonix and also features music by platinum-selling recording artist Moby.

The host asked Ellen whether she had seen Food Inc. in which her response was, “Oh yeah, but it’s like a disney movie compared to Earthlings”.

This one statement raised my eyebrows and I knew I had to investigate further. I mean come on, it’s Ellen! I had seen Food Inc. before so I was very curious at this stage.

I found the trailer for Earthlings and read all of the reviews. By all accounts, this was a no holding back approach to animal cruelty. The documentary was described as a horror film but the only difference is that it’s real! At this point I was pretty freaking nervous.

Taking the first step

I called Masha to see if she was keen to watch it. She Facebook messaged me later on in the day to say that she had watched the trailer and doesn’t know if she could get through it.

But much to my suprise, she mustered up the strength to sit through the documentary with me. And to be honest, I’m glad she did, cause I don’t think I would of been able to get through it without her.

The film is broken up into five categories; domestic, food, clothes, science and entertainment. These are all of the areas in which humans abuse animals.

What got me straight away was the concept of specivism. This concept draws comparisons to human discrimination including sexism and racism. The idea is that, we used to (and still do) treat one another with ultimate disrespect. However at some stage, the humans being discriminated against were able to stand up for themselves.

Unfortunately, we can’t say the same thing about animals. These are helpless beings who are being treated like slaves as we use them for our own human needs.

The realisation

The documentary showed us the ugly truth and gave us perspective. For Masha, it was more about reinforcing her beliefs as well as addressing some areas of veganism she had not yet considered. For me, it was a complete mind f*ck. I actually quite like animals and to see them be treated like shit really hurt me. The constant slitting of the throats, lack of space to live, scared look on the animals faces were a bit much for me.

Having said that, I still believe that if you live in the jungle and you absolutely need to kill a wild animal to survive, I say go for it. Only if it was a matter of life and death.

But if you’re sitting on your ass and buying meat and dairy because it’s convenient (when we have a ton of alternative options), that’s not cool. At the end of the day, as much grief as we give these large food corporations, they are hustling to meet the demands of the consumer. Which means slaughtering billions of animals to meet the demands of us. Simple economics.

So we have a choice. We really do. And organic grass fed meat isn’t enough. Animals should be left alone and have the same opportunity as humans do. Let them go on to make their own mistakes on their own terms. Don’t take advantage of them simply because we’re on the top of the food chain.

Looking back

There’s so much we have learned on this lifestyle, and we continue to learn each and every day.

It’s been a challenge at times for sure, but every time we feel like we’re about to fall off, we think back to the night we watched Earthlings and there’s just no way we can go back.

After some time, things get much easier. You start finding places to eat out, you learn how to inspire others through actions, not through preachy words, you find even more beauty in whole plant-based foods, and you start naturally connecting with others who share the same passion.

Overall, it’s been a great experience. It feels good to know you can eat amazing healthy food without compromising the livelyhood of the animals in our world. So far, we wouldn’t change a thing.

What about you? Have you had a similar experience, or something completely different? Share your thought process in the comments below.

19 comments… add one
  • Anne E. McGuigan 02/03/2015 Reply

    Hi Michael and Masha,
    Let me begin by saying that you have a beautiful and thoughtful website. I know the work that goes into putting one together and I applaud your efforts. I have not been able to watch Earthlings. I come across many images and videos daily that are hard enough as it is to see, but a I certainly applaud those who have been able to watch this seminal film about all of the death for profit nonhuman animal industries.
    Good luck with your site and thank you for your advocacy. I look forward to reading your posts.

  • Such a beautiful post, Michael and Masha! They call this film: ‘The Vegan Maker’, and it was the final straw in my decision to follow a vegan lifestyle as well. I cried for days afterwards but I’m so grateful for its presence. I’ve been vegan now for almost 4 years and it only gets better and better! As a beautiful side effect, I no longer suffer from the chronic eczema that plagued me my whole life, nor do I ever have to worry about my weight again – plus it inspired a whole new career and passion for me in Health Coaching! Here’s to rocking a passionate, plant-based life! Congratulations on the launch of your new site and I look forward to following your journey. Love, Bex

    • Thanks Bex, we really appreciate your support! Earthlings certainly lives up to it’s name. We’re glad this lifestyle cleared up your skin. M & M

  • Thank you for sharing your story. This line -> “Let them go on to make their own mistakes on their own terms” really speaks to me. There is an animal advocacy book, On Their Own Terms, written by Lee Hall that speaks about the concept of letting the animals live their lives on their own terms. It’s an incredible read if you ever get the chance. Anyway, congratulations on your new site! I look forward to seeing what’s next!

    • Hi KD, thank you for taking the time to comment. We’ve added your book recommendation to our reading list. Thanks again! M & M

  • Tammy Martin 23/03/2015 Reply

    Thank you for this thoughtful post and for educating us about this movie. I had not heard of it before and the trailer alone is heartbreaking! I’ve been moving towards a vegan lifestyle and need to find the strength to watch this very important film. Thanks for your advocacy and I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    • Thanks Tammy, we’re glad you found this post useful. We always suggest watching the film with someone else if possible. Let us know how you go.

  • Rosanna 27/03/2015 Reply

    Let me just say… GREAT BLOG!.. Thank you for sharing your story.. Mine started basically for health reasons and I also decided to switch cold turkey after learning with other videos what farm animals go thru to satisfy an unnecessary need to eat meat. I was ignorant before.. they don’t want anyone to know.. I feel the switch is happening.. more and more people are aware about why we don’t need meat, dairy, eggs to survive.. I suggest you watch “Cowspiracy” .. it also gives you a perspective on the environmental impact of raising farm animals…

    • Hi Rosanna, thank you for your kind words. It’s interesting to hear about your story and how the industry affected cemented your decision. Yes, Cowspiracy is next on our watching list, thanks for letting us know.

  • Katie 22/06/2017 Reply

    I was so pleased to read this post! I stumbled across this website earlier this evening and I’m already loving every bit of it. I too, became vegan overnight (beginning last night, in fact) – after 8 months of being vegetarian I still felt uneasy about consuming dairy products and, like the two of you, after watching a short video on the matter, my mindset has been solidified on giving up ALL animal by-products! I’m looking forward to continuing to read what the two of you post (and have already posted) on this website 🙂

    • Thanks so much for sharing your journey Katie! Congrats on taking the leap 🙂 If you ever have any questions or want some extra support, feel free to email us x

  • Sarah 09/10/2017 Reply

    I came across your sight tonight and was immediately drawn in by the name. I am a minimalist and just very recently began transitioning to a vegan diet. Although I am completely against animal cruelty, I have to admit that this was not the deciding factor for me to go vegan. I recently watched the documentary What the Health and it made me start my transition over night. It focuses on the very negative affects eating meat and dairy has on your health. My daughter is 9 months old and has only just begun to eat solid foods. Watching this film has inspired me to feed her right. If you have never seen it, I definitely recommend it. I started to watch Food Inc. and could barely look at the screen. I want to get through it and watch Earthlings as well. I look forward to reading more from you guys.

    • Hi Sarah, thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences. Yes, we were able to attend the launch for What The Health in our city. Very powerful film! There are many reasons people become vegan, whether it’s compassion, environment or health. It sounds like you’re on a journey with lots of discovery. We are too. We’re glad our ethos aligns with yours. Would highly recommend watching Earthlings. It’s extremely devastating but no other documentary has had such a huge impact on our lives, and we’ve watched a lot of them.

  • Lerato 30/12/2017 Reply

    thank you so much for sharing your story and how your journey to becoming vegan began. I just finished watching Earthling and i must say,it is the most eye opening and heart wrenching documentary I’ve ever seen. I have been vegetarian for 4 months now and was toying with the idea of becoming vegan.. I AM NOW A VEGAN.

    • That’s amazing Lerato!! Congratulations 🙂 Best of luck on your new journey, feel free to reach out if you need help with anything. M&M

  • Megan Dudek 10/01/2018 Reply

    I had never heard of the movie Earthlings…I have been a vegetarian for 2 years and have been thinking passively about going vegan. Ive started trying some vegan versions of yogurt, sour cream, etc. Ive been happy with my vegetarianism and felt good thinking the dairy industry wasnt too bad off but after talking it over with my wife and really thinking about the process and even watching the trailer and some other short clips of animal anguish I’ve convinced myself that there is too much suffering out there that is well worth the change. Ive been ignorant or blind to the dairy aspects but am forcing myself to see it- I dont think I could make it through the movie as I have been crying just contemplating it, but thank you for including this and helping me move forward.

    • Megan, thank you so much for sharing your story. Totally understand if you decide not to watch Earthlings. However you should try to at least watch it with a friend, perhaps your wife? Animal suffering goes far beyond what you eat and Earthlings sheds light on all of the key areas of animal liberation. All the best.

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