by Tanja Jurgec

Going vegan made me an atheist. Kind of.

going vegan made me an atheist

Before I start, just a heads up that no one really becomes an atheist as it is merely a lack of belief. Sam Harris loves to say that “we do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive” and it perfectly explains why I hate the word atheist.

Okay. (I say in my SH voice)

It was December 2016 and once again I was watching Richard Dawkins and consuming his debates like I was starving.

I was. 

My brain was tired of finding excuses for all the inconsistencies I was discovering in the New Age cult I was a part of. Well, it wasn’t an actual cult but it felt like one.

There were leaders and rules, and shaming and a goal we were all working towards. We were the enlightened ones. We were the children of God and everything that happened, from bad to good, was for a reason. 

The severe abuse I suffered at the hands of my mother and being groomed by her boyfriend? Being bullied by classmates to the point of attempting suicide and ultimately dropping out of high school? Developing a personality disorder that is so stigmatized that even some psychiatrists refuse to work with me?

My fault. My fault. My fault.

The toxic and immoral beliefs that are being spread from the mouths of the most influential New Age gurus are immensely dangerous. Telling someone who was sexually abused as a toddler that they chose to experience it, is pure evil.

Yet for years I was pushing these doubts, of whether or not God and angels were real, behind me. I wanted to believe it was my fault. I had to believe it was my fault. Because if it was not, and the world truly was cruel, then all the abuse was for nothing.

This was strange because I grew up in a secular household and I didn’t learn about religion and spirituality until I was much older. Neither of my parents – or my extended family – believed in anything and going to the church was simply done to admire the frescoes. 

Reading the children’s version of The Bible that I found hiding under a pile of clothes when we went to get food at Caritas, was done out of curiosity. I didn’t believe a baby was actually cut in half; this was a horror story and mother allowed me to read it!

My childhood was filled with abuse and fear, but I have something to be grateful for. Neither of my parents forced me to believe in actual hell.

I learnt about the big guy on my own. It was my decision to learn the Lord’s Prayer and to force my mother to buy me a rosary because Maria from a Mexican telenovela had one. To me, religion was a storyline from a tv show, not a reality.

Like carrying a wooden sword because I wanted to imitate Xena, or digging in the park to find hidden treasures like Sydney Fox.

Falling into this world of crystals, chanting, manifestation and channelling angels was so different from my upbringing. It stopped being a childish game and it became real life. God was real now, and fiction became fact… at least in my mind.

Once I saw The Secret everything started to fall apart, even though it will take years before I actually noticed it. My whole existence was dedicated to getting God to talk to me and to heal me from trauma.

I surrendered my whole self to him. Billions will argue it was the wrong God I chose to do this for, but none of them did anything to confirm that they cared. I was practically begging on my knees for help. 

He was never there. The only thing that was real was the deception by those I had faith in because they preyed on me from the start. I was looking to be saved and they knew I would be willing to pay any price for it.

Going vegan in 2015 was a turning point. My moral code was upgraded and I was finally living according to my deepest values of freedom and truth.

The mission I was on was about to punch me in the face because I was months away from being faced with a decision. Should I continue having blind faith or open up to the possibility of everything I believed in being a lie?

Turns out, I had no choice but to face the facts. It’s not like free will exists, and my parents did raise a little sceptic who was not indoctrinated.

One random day I was on a YouTube channel of a woman who interviewed spiritual leaders and gurus. She was uploading a bunch of interviews with channelers and I was very fascinated so I watched them.

But something was very, very strange. 

One channeler, a vegan herself, claimed angels told her they did not approve of us eating animal products. But the second channeler claimed angels said it was okay for us to consume animals as they signed a contract in heaven consenting to be killed in trillions.

Hmm…

How can two individuals who both supposedly have access to angels, come out with such different claims? Were angels lying, or was this whole thing a sham? This situation opened the door for me and I began searching for people who could answer my questions.

Who can debunk crystals and the law of attraction? Who can debunk Deepak Chopra and Esther Hicks? Who can debunk New Age angels and God? Apparently not a lot of people.

You would be surprised how few people were talking about NA and exposing the cults within the movement. You have hundreds of videos with Sam Harris debating Christians, but no one is debating people who claim that people are poor because they are not positive.

I was eager to learn about what the other side thinks. The sceptic in me was willing to get uncomfortable just to satisfy the need for knowing what is real and true. The lies have consumed me and my new vegan lifestyle pushed me to seek the facts.

That is how I found Richard Dawkins.

Hours and hours of speeches managed to convince me that although our reality is darker than fiction, it is much more wonderful. I was less scared of losing faith and that is what ultimately happened.

You know, I don’t remember exactly what he said in one of his debates that did it. I think it was something along the lines of how everyone thinks their God is different. We all think our God is better.

When I heard him call out religious people something hit me as well. I was the same! 

I too believed that my God was different because he was not a religious one and there was no hell he could send me to. He was kind of the perfect God; a God anyone would wish for. 

But it was too late as Dawkins managed to crash that final wall that was keeping me from going back to my roots. Tanja the sceptic was back and she had a whole lot of experience now.

About a year later, after declaring myself an atheist, I gave myself a chance to mourn who I was. I mourned who I was before I was indoctrinated and during. I spent a whole year being angry at how stupid and naive I was. It was time I forgave myself.

Was it veganism that made me an atheist or were I bound to leave New Age eventually? I think it was a mix of both as I had doubts all along but those channelers were only suspicious because I was paying attention.

It’s not like there were no inconsistencies before. But being vegan was bigger than me and it was bigger than my short-lived believer phase. Veganism was bigger than God. It was and it continues being bigger than me.

It is a moral obligation. A duty. I am incredibly privileged to have been born as the so-called dominant species and it is on me to make sure this ends.

There is no scale that measures the value of an individuals life, therefore, I see all beings as absolutely equal to me. A worms life is equally as valuable, if not more, as mine is. 

It is not a belief, just something I cannot disprove. As I said, no scale to measure if Homo sapiens really does matter more in a grand scheme of things.

Of course, to us we are the most important creatures in the universe but not to a worm or a pig or a whale. But the fact that human selfishness, egocentricity and collective psychopathy managed to cause global warming and kill off millions of non-human species, tells me I have to take my crown off.

I am not above the rest of the animal kingdom. If we are completely honest, humans really do not contribute anything to the rest of life.

But that is a topic for another post.

If you want to follow my journey as a vegan advocate, please make sure you are following me on Pinterest and Instagram.

Tanja

going vegan made me an atheist

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