There is undeniably a huge mental benefit to being morally consistent. This is something that only comes with being vegan. One need only reflect on the last time you saw a non-vegan at a petting zoo with cute little baby farm animals. Not a single person there is thinking about how delicious those animals must taste. If someone were to walk out with a bolt gun, everyone present would rush to defend the animal whose life was in peril. There would be a revolt to save and a fundraiser to free that animal. It is moments like these when the true nature of mankind is revealed. The compassion and empathy springs forward unrestrained. Yet, when it comes to the dinner table, the social conditioning is what we see. It is in no way natural or normal to do what we do when eating animals. We must teach children to bury their compassion deep inside and forget that what lies upon their plate is the dead body of an animal they would pet and love were they to see it prior to slaughter. I've yet to meet a child that sees animals and wishes harm upon them so that they might be made into food.
On the other hand, being vegan comes with some serious problems in regards to ones mental health. Once one has fully adopted a vegan world perspective, it becomes so abundantly clear that things are not right in the world. We are surrounded by people who are either blissfully unaware of their action's effects on animals or they are blocked mentally and tell themselves it can be morally consistent to think of oneself as a good person while paying others to inflict unimaginable suffering upon animals. The number of people that are truly ignorant to what is happening is becoming smaller and smaller. The information is out there and easy to obtain. Fast approaching is the day when there will only be vegans, blocked vegans, and sociopaths. And as a vegan, we must exist in this world surrounded by people constantly throwing it in our face that they have little to no regard for the suffering of these sentient beings. Anyone who has spent any quality time with a pig will suffer something like PTSD when they find themselves surround by people buying the body parts of a pig in any form. Or seeing a video of the conditions of animals tortured and abused for their fur, and then encountering the heartless human wearing the coat made from their suffering. It takes an immense amount of effort to hold back the rage and frustration you feel knowing you are, for the time being, powerless to stop the suffering of these intelligent and caring animals. It is no different than if the person perpetrating the crime against these animals by supporting their slaughter and torture were to find themselves suddenly surrounded by people supporting the slaughter and abuse of children. A true vegan realizes that humans have no valid claim to the notion that somehow our lives are more important. It is only through a speciesist lens that one could hear the comparison of doing something to a pig versus the same thing to a human and decide that there is nothing to compare. (And this is not to be mistaken to mean there are no differences in how animals and human animals think or respond to stimuli - but rather that sentient beings such as pigs, chickens, cows and more have just as much right to live and be free from unnecessary harm as humans do. To deny this would be the same as claiming the skill level at certain activities or intelligence of a human would give them a great claim to life than someone less skilled or intelligent). So, being a vegan in a world filled with suffering on a scale unimaginable that is caused intentionally to the peril of all involved (human, planet and animal), how does a vegan stay sane? How does one avoid full on depression knowing they are surrounded by such evil (even if done through ignorance in part)?
The answer is: with great difficulty. It is a daily struggle to not scream out in frustration at every person you meet. It takes every bit of strength we have to not cry every time we see someone buying a gallon of milk. Where they see milk, we see the suffering of a milking cow forced into slavery for 4 years before being turned into cheap hamburger and the sorrow of male calves locked in tiny cages only to be slaughtered young for the tenderness of their flesh. It is not because we are oversensitive that we see things this way (though some of us are). It is because that is the reality behind it. It is the real cost of those products. Their is one price in terms of dollar and sense. And then there is another in terms of pain, suffering and misery that is paid by the animal.
I only hope that someday soon, there is a recognition of this reality that caring and compassionate people are being forced into a life of misery and depression from being surrounded by apathy, gluttony and worse (brutality, abuse and murder). We must turn off our minds just to make it through the day. We must hide our emotions so as not to be thought insane for embodying the values that the world gives lip-service too. We are beat down through bullying when people mock us making jokes about the amount of meat the eat, or their lack of concern for animals by saying ignorant things like 'Pigs make me think of delicious bacon.' Then we must walk through grocery stores filled with aisle after aisle and cooler after cooler of dead animals. We must hear 'educated' people proclaim that humans need dairy milk or meat because they are sponsored by animal agriculture industries. And we watch as our planet dies, while people change their light bulbs to be more efficient while they pay to have someone cut down acre after acre of the rainforest to graze more cattle for beef. Everywhere we look, there is injustice. Everywhere we turn there is suffering and sorrow. And we feel it as if it were happening to us. Even if someone were to truly believe that animal suffering did not have any value, the suffering of human vegans is so intense as to be nearly indescribable in regards to the emotions we feel in regards to the suffering animals are forced to endure. There is no escape. There is no safe haven. And yet, because of the type of people we are, we fight on. We push down our anger, our depression, and our horror and continue moving forward hoping that someday the world will finally be a place that we can see without feeling ashamed of being human. It is not even clear that once we succeed, and we will succeed for justice cannot long lay dorment without awaking with fury, that we will ever be able to fully recover. We are like war veterans that have seen and known things too terrible to believe and too horrible to forget. And yet, not one of us would do a single thing differently. We are called to action by something far greater than ourselves. We see injustice and we set ourselves against it knowing full well the true costs of doing what we do.