I've had a lot on my mind lately. A week without a working computer has been a bittersweet experience. While I've had a chance to catch up on some important reading - specifically Gene Baur's Farm Sanctuary and Ingrid Newkirk's Making Kind Choices- I've also been without the daily chance to blog about my new findings. As rusty as I feel, however, I will forge ahead with blogging, because tonight, I'm in a mood to share.
I've been meditating a lot on the idea of change and how difficult a practice it is for so many people. It seems that fear is greatly attached to change - the idea that by bringing change into your life, your daily existence will be that much more chaotic and ultimately scarier. And I get that. I used to be a person who was comfortable with exactly where I was and with how I lived my life. Change wasn't something that ever entered my mind, especially when it came to food, because no other option existed for me. I was taught as a child that by consuming animal products, my bones would be strong, my heart would be healthy, and I would be eating a well-balanced diet. And I believed in all of that. Somehow, despite being the animal lover I've always been, I whole-heartedly accepted ignoring the notion that the food on my plate once had a face. I was taught and fully accepted that pigs were pork and ham, chickens were nuggets and buffalo wings, cows were burgers and steak, and turkeys were a natural (and necessary) part of Thanksgiving dinner. The idea - that the same animals who involuntarily sacrificed their livelihood for me were in fact living, breathing individuals with personalities all their own - was a notion I never entertained. Because no one told me I should.
What's the difference between my adorable kitties
and these piglets?
It's simple really - a lifetime of consistently living one way can easily prevent a person from ever opening themselves up to the alternative, especially when that alternative is not right
in front of them.
The greatest part of my journey into veganism has been that my eyes have opened up to a world much larger than my tiny Brooklyn apartment. One day last year, I finally realized that I was a part of something much bigger - that buy purchasing certain foods, by eating at certain places, I was directly contributing to a world of suffering and abuse. Lately, Steve and I have been discussing ways to explain veganism to people from the perspective of someone who hasn't always lived in such a way - acting as a "beginner vegan," if you will. And it makes sense that if during a conversation, you mention that you live a lifestyle that is totally different from the norm, people will question your character, if only for a moment. It's usually when I explain that I once regularly ate meat - and that I was once as much in the dark about factory farming as the next person - that people begin to listen a little more.
I've had a handful of experiences lately where the people I talk to will say that they are just not in a place to want to change their lifestyle. Some have even been honest enough with me to admit that they won't change because they want to be able to keep eating the way they like to. It got me thinking: what would it take to change? Or more importantly, what will it take? Because our world desperately needs this kind of change, whether we're up for the challenge or not. Our health as a species depends on it.
It's no surprise that eating meat severely increases your chances of countless diseases, and that factory farming is one of the largest causes of global warming. In essence, it's no surprise that by supporting cruelty, we suffer as a result.
When did it get to the point that we stopped seeing animals as living beings and started seeing them as a bottom line? How did we allow ourselves to become so de-sensitized to their pain, all for food we don't even need?
(A daily reminder in my home to remain vegan.)
If you have made it to this point in the post, thank you for opening your hearts and minds and reading this. I know it's a lot to swallow (no pun intended), but I wouldn't say it if it wasn't absolutely necessary. We're reaching a point on Earth where precious resources are being destroyed, where human beings are dying more frequently from preventable diseases, and where torture is occurring in our own towns. I know it's a scary thing to think about, and I know that it might make you uncomfortable. But you know what? Maybe that's a good thing. Maybe we need some uncomfortable emotions to exist within, so that we can grow.
All I know is that I want my parents around long enough to see their grandchildren born. I want my children to live in a world where they don't have to carry the burden of fixing our mistakes. I want them to live in a world that is not dying, but flourishing. If the act of change could allow for the damage of the world to heal so that future generations could enjoy it, wouldn't you change today?
It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.
- Charles Darwin
There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.
- Winston Churchill