"The angle of repose is sometimes used as a synonym for the tipping point. To understand the origin of the term, consider a person who leans back in a chair. If the person tips back beyond a certain angle, then the chair will tip over and the person will fall onto his or her back. That angle is the angle of repose, and it is analogized to apply to any process in which beyond a certain point, the rate at which the process (chemical, sociological, etc.) proceeds increases dramatically." (source)
What was my "vegan tipping point?" What was the final neural link, the end synaptic snap, the sudden thought imperative that enabled me to declare, "I be vegan!" and, in my case, eschew all dairy products?
I had been a vegetarian for some 22+ years..... vegan 3 or so years since then.... my initial spiritual and health-related experiment soon evolved into a greater sensitivity to the environmental devastation caused by meat consumption, as well as realizing the hideous way our "farmed" animals are treated. Not eating anything with a face became a significant guiding principle in my life.... yet ironically, didn't encompass "dairy."
Not eating eggs was easy. But cheese? Pizza? Again and again, I remember thinking "naw, it's not necessary." I also recall believing that my vegan friends were extreme and arrogant regarding their disdain of milk and dairy products. "Yeah, the animals producing these products were maltreated," I would mumble to myself, "but my consumption of such would be after the fact." That rationalization comforted me for years. Although I cut back in quantity, I still had my occasional cheese fix (pizza!), and I did know that I'd eventually go vegan, but there was no compelling immediate reason to do so "now."
Strangely enough, with all the examples and influences of FARM, AR conferences, and the Mad Cowboy's sterling example of veganism, what became the tipping point for me came from the NotMilkMan: Robert Cohen. In his daily free NotMilk Yahoo Group e-column (to over 5,500 subscribers and the inspiration for the Mad Cowboy Newsletter, which I edit), he posted one particular column that PUShed me over the line:
Robert, bless his feisty soul, pulled out statistics from the U.S. government detailing the the average measured amount of pus cells per liter of milk by State. 400 millions cells is the European limit (little over half of ours). He wrote: "...we learn that pus cell counts continue to rise in America. They have been doing so since the advent of genetically engineered milk. Stressed cows become sick and their milk contains more pus. It's as simple as that."
Robert pointed out that the U.S. numbers were ALL over recommended European levels.
Sick cows. Pus cells. It wasn't the hormones, it wasn't the fat, it wasn't the relationship to many bodily disorders, it wasn't that it was Mother's Milk from another species. It wasn't these truths and the inhumane conditions the cows were raised in, that tipped me over.
It was the cold, hard, and unassailable fact: you drink milk, you eat cheese, you consume cow pus cells. They are concentrated in cheese and our government allows this to be.
It was like eating an Apple at the Garden of Eden. Once ya know, ya can't forget.
"I be Vegan!" I declared to myself. And that was that.
(... and I'm not sure if I should thank Mr. Cohen, or curse him... a sympathy probably shared by many...)