Becoming Vegan – A Personal Journey by Mo Orr

Becoming Vegan - Mo Orr - Featured

Editor’s Note: Mo Orr is an organizer for Vegans in Toowoomba, in Queensland, Australia, where she lives with her husband George. She is an Elephant Ambassador for Elephant Nature Park and co-moderates several vegan groups online, including Vegans, Vegans in Australia and Vegans in Queensland Australia (QLD). Mo is one of the most passionate vegans we have ever met, always speaking out for the animals and always willing to help people on their own journeys towards veganism. 

A fleeting glance at a cattle truck, destination slaughterhouse, and my life changed. I saw the cows inside, looking out. This was the first time I had seen a cattle truck. I had always considered myself an animal lover, a compassionate person, yet I had never questioned food, where, or who, it came from. I had never connected the ‘meat’ I ate with the animals I professed to love.

Becoming Vegan - Mo Orr - Sod Sai

Feeding Sod Sai, a rescued pig

I stopped eating animals and became a lacto-ovo vegetarian. And sadly, again I didn’t question: what happens to male chicks? and male calves? What about the chickens and cows, confined forever, killed before their time?

The decision to holiday at the Elephant Nature Park (outside Chiang Mai, Thailand), founded by Lek Chailert, was another life-defining choice. Listening to Lek speak had a profound impact on me. I realised that cruelty to animals isn’t only in the manner of their deaths, it’s also in their lives, that animals don’t willingly give their lives to us to use, not for food, entertainment, clothing, experimentation. We take from them their life’s purpose.

Becoming Vegan - Mo Orr - Lek

With Lek Chailert at Elephant Nature Park

Still I resisted becoming vegan. It seemed like such a big step to take. What would I eat? How could I give up cheese and eggs? I decided that when I figured out the answer, I would become vegan. Time went by. Then one day a chance post came up in my Facebook newsfeed: “what vegan meals are you making for Thanksgiving?” and I could no longer hold back.

I became vegan.

For me being vegan has always been easy, maybe because it took me so long to grow from vegetarian to vegan. It may be frustrating, inconvenient, and difficult in social situations, but never hard. I am have never been tempted to ‘cheat’, or missed eggs or cheese or dairy milk chocolate. Now, when I smell bacon, or hear the crackle of eggs frying, I feel the suffering of someone who wanted to live. It hurts.

Becoming Vegan - Mo Orr - Billboard

Billboard in Toowoomba, Australia

I was, and still am, lucky to have a supportive partner. George wasn’t vegan but was happy to learn to cook vegan for me (he did then, and still does, most of the cooking!). He shared in many of those vegan meals.

I would forget he wasn’t vegan and speak to him about animal issues, I would share with him video clips, images of battery chickens and pigs’ gestation crates.

I remember buying ‘free range’ eggs for him at the supermarket, bringing them home, slamming them down on the counter saying: “what a crock! The carton says “Now with a perch and room to scratch themselves””. And with not a word being said between us, George became vegan.

He sometimes found it hard, he felt that meals weren’t always satisfying, that something was missing, and we worked through those days together. I had taken so long to become vegan and for me it was easy; George moved from meat eater to vegan in a matter of months and sometimes found it difficult. It was a lesson to me, I needed to be more tolerant, we all reach veganism in our own way in our own time.

Becoming Vegan - Mo Orr - Moshe

With Moshe, a wonderful rescued dog at Elephant Nature Park

I started speaking out about veganism.

I soon realised that being vegan wasn’t enough, I had to speak out. And I had to learn how to use words effectively. Saying from the heart: “but it’s just wrong” wasn’t enough.

I went into a reading frenzy: Prof Tom Regan, Gary L. Francione, Melanie Joy. I learned the difference between welfarism and rights, that: “Welfarists seek to reform current practices of animal exploitation, while retaining such exploitation in principle, rights advocates oppose all such exploitation in principle and seek to abolish all such exploitation in practice.” ~ Point / Counterpoint by Tom Regan and Gary Francione (Jan/Feb 1992)

I learned that advocating for welfare reforms may help me feel better, but it is the biggest harm we can do to animals. It allows people to feel comfortable with their food choices, believing them to be ‘humane’, ‘free range’ and ‘cruelty free’ without having to change their behaviour. To believe that the best we can do for animals is to improve the conditions of their exploitation, to not ask for justice, is in itself an injustice.

Becoming Vegan - Mo Orr - Cats

A true animal lover

Slavery and the Holocaust?

I flinched the first time I heard our treatment of animals compared to slavery and the holocaust. It felt wrong to compare human and non-human animals, thus the beginning of my understanding of speciesism.

But there is one fundamental difference between the human holocaust and the animal holocaust: the human holocaust was to eradicate the Jews and other races, whereas animals are purpose bred, billions of them. It’s in the horror that is their lives and deaths that the similarities live.

Veganism is an end and a beginning…

I thought that being vegan was an end in itself, now I realise it is but another beginning.

Where are you in your vegan journey?

Becoming Vegan - Mo Orr - Vegan Steps

Which step are you on?

44 thoughts on “Becoming Vegan – A Personal Journey by Mo Orr

  1. Sharron Woodward

    I enjoyed your first ever blog Mo. I love reading people’s aha moment. Looking forward to sharing your blog journey. Oh yeah & yay for George!

  2. Renata

    What a great blog Mo! I hope many many people read it is it is filled with so much honesty and emotion. I wish I had of read something like this when I was a meat eat eater!

  3. Liz

    I really enjoy reading your first entry. It was very informative. Great to have such a supportive husband! Keep up the great work.

  4. Julia Riseley

    Hi Mo

    I loved your Blog! Non-Judgemental of folks who are eagerly trying to make the transition from Vegetarian to Vegan. I am one of those people ~ Having been Vegetarian for many years. I am finding some aspects more difficult than others! Never Fear ~ Like George I will soon be a Fully Fledged Vegan xxx

  5. Diane Renee

    Beautifully written and with such a gentle tone. But, there is no doubt you have a loving yet fierce passion in your heart. This is a new journey for me, but I refuse to go back. Looking into the eye’s of these animals and seeing the fear, the horrific living conditions and their slaughter leaves a heavy ache in my heart, and I am ashamed for the part I played.

    1. Mo Orr

      Wow, Diane, those are beautiful words you have written, thank you. And please don’t be ashamed, be proud that you are awakening, enjoy the journey

  6. Maree Dowden

    Beautiful insight into a very kind person. It’s people like you and George that make a difference truly inspirational – thanks for sharing.

    1. Mo

      Thanks, Marcus. It was you who broadened my horizons to include the environment, I hadn’t made that connection before hearing your podcasts on The Species Barrier.

  7. Nik Anti-Speciesist

    Great blog post from someone I am blessed to count as a friend.
    Thank you Mo!
    Oh and George? Yaaay!

  8. Julie

    I loved this. Thank you for sharing your journey and for your honesty!! I would LOVE to read more from you. Peace to you and George!! XO, Julie

  9. Alex

    The first time I heard of speciesism was in the movie Earthlings, which changed many of my behaviors. Though I doubt I will ever be vegetarian and know I will never be vegan, I love that movie for how it inspired me to change.

  10. Giselle and Cody

    Wonderful guest blog. We stand right beside you in who, and what you stand for.
    It all comes down to justice, and there is absolutely no justice in the way we treat those who have no voice, and are at our mercy. There is no reason to eat earthlings who long for life and freedom as much as we do. “But it tastes good” is no justification.

    The more we learn, the more we speak out whenever we can.
    We are for the complete freedom of every animal. Until every cage is empty.

  11. Juno

    I’m meeting/ hearing more stories about vegans and veganism. It’s certainly an interesting way of living. Beautiful insight too. I don’t think I will be a vegan myself in anytime soon, but I respect those of who are so strong and truthful about what they believe!

    1. Mo

      Thanks, Juno. I’m not sure I am strong, nor even disciplined. I guess I no longer see animals as good or resources, and that makes being vegan comfortable!

  12. Esther

    Thank you Mo for sharing your story. I’m between the steps I’m going to try to do it and I can do it. Just need to get organized and make a menu plan and to stick to it having enough variety or enough of what satisfies me. …

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