Yesterday Maggie asked, "Why do vegans not eat animal products? I don't mean the meat, I mean eggs, milk,etc.."
I suspect its different for everyone but here's my take on it. Let me take you all the way back to the beginning of my vegetarian journey to explain.
Back in 1995, I was taking an anatomy and physiology class in college. Two things happened there. First, I had to dissect a cat. Aside from the overall disgust of seeing a dead animal on what looked like a large cookie sheet, this also made me miserable because I had two cats at home. I assuaged the guilt by giving the cats extra treats when I came home.
The second thing that happened was a little more subtle. One day we were reading about human muscle fiber bundles in class. That night for dinner I made steak. When I looked down at my plate there were muscle fiber bundles looking back at me. That was the beginning of my life as a vegetarian.
Now for the answer to Maggie's question. We went on happily eating eggs, milk and especially cheese for a long time. Eggs were the first to go, although not for very vegan reasons initially. At first, I was just tired of hearing about the threat of salmonella.
Then I discovered during a routine physical that my cholesterol was high. The only remaining dietary cause I could find was the amount of cheese that I ate. Since I didn't want to go on meds, I stopped eating cheese and started exercising. My cholesterol went down about 30 points.
By March of 2003 the only animal products left in our diet were some milk products. Thats when we went to a talk at our local vegetarian society given by Gary Yourofsky. Along with the talk, he showed clips from his video From Liberator to Educator. He's a little intense but he made some good points. It was the first time I had ever seen the deplorable conditions that animals raised for food live in.
I was patting myself on the back and feeling pretty good that I was vegetarian (ie. I wasn't contributing to all that suffering) when he mentioned the acceptable levels of pus in milk. Cows like humans can get mastitis and when they do, because milking machines aren't as delicate as baby cows about their milk needs, there will be pus. Some of that pus gets into the milk. I'll let you do the google search on that but I warn you, you'll never be the same. We ditched dairy and went vegan that night.
Over time we've come to feel the same way Ruthie does in this quote, "I always tell people that cows and chicken kept for their milk and eggs are treated no less deplorably than those kept for their meat... they are usually killed in the end, or die an unnaturally premature death, so it always seemed to me that if you eat eggs and milk you're contributing to animal suffering and death just as you would if you ate meat."
But in all honesty, for me a vegan lifestyle started with the pus. I hope that answers your question Maggie. Feel free to ask more questions.