Before becoming vegan myself, there was an idea already in my head of some airy-fairy, mid-twenty new-ager who spoke of horror stories of undercover footage of how factory farm animals were treated or, better yet, someone throwing buckets of blood on people who bought fur coats…all in hopes of converting the uneducated meat-eating masses.
At the beginning, I did NOT decide to stop eating meat/dairy because of the humane aspect. In fact, my main reason was for the health benefits (check out The China Study to begin learning more). Although, I was (at least I thought I was) aware of the humane characteristic of the lifestyle –I never planned on shunning a Coach purse made of leather or bother finding out if the cosmetics I was buying was tested on animals or not.
Sure, I felt that the ethics a ‘lifestyle-vegan’ stood for was great and all, but I never thought of ever actually choosing to become one.
That’s the thing – no one ever thinks they are going to become vegan. You simply do not choose change like that.
About 8 months into my journey in eliminating meat and dairy, I found I had enough courage to begin to bear witness with my eyes and my ears to what we make approximately 72 billion animals (each year) bear witness to with their bodies and souls.
I purchased Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home and it was incredibly honest and incredibly powerful. (If you are wondering, this is NOT one of those documentaries that goes undercover and tries to shock-change people, you can learn more about it here)
Visual images are very powerful to humans. It’s very challenging to grab a rubber erase or a bottle of white out and simply scrap the emotion and reactions felt when witnessing a particularly moving visual scene. I think we all can easily re-call the smoke billowing out from the twin towers from 9/11 or those graphic pictures we where shown in high school history books of bodies piled up during the Holocaust.
People use many reasons to avoid addressing particular humane issues when it comes to the food they eat. People simply have “enough on their plate” as it is and challenging the deepest aspects of a person’s upbringing and education is enormously daunting. Not to mention that we are all pretty much neatly removed from observing any horrors of the meat, dairy and egg industry – just look at all those happy cow commercials, right?
Meat-eating, dairy-loving people truly believe themselves to be kind and compassionate to animals; they love their dog and cats, they give money to the local animal shelter and they even brake for a family of Canadian geese crossing a semi-busy street.
What is the underlying catalyst among those animal-friendly people who become vegan and those who do not?
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a mother now (there are a tremendous amount of changes I’ve made since being a parent and I’m not sure if this can be attributed to motherhood or not), but the images and knowledge I now have pertaining to the unethical treatment (particularly of dairy cows - and their calves) has damaged me and when I recall the information I feel as sick as I did when I first learn of it.
In a strange turn of events, the one thing I thought I would never be able cease (dairy) is one of the main factors that has solidified me becoming vegan.
Dairy. is. no. longer. appetizing. to. me.
(…not to mention there are great alternatives available).
True, dairy cows aren’t raised solely for the purpose for slaughter…instead, to put it in perspective, their devastating existence is drawn out a few years longer. One dairy cow will give birth to approximately 3-6 calves all whom are immediately taken from her. The female cow will be administered hormones and a constant stream of antibiotics. The substantially unnatural demand of lactation will deplete calcium from her own bones – the bottom-line: that she will generate enough milk to fill as many half-pint containers for school children to drink each day as possible.
When she finally finds herself free from this “life”, her body will produce 2,000 quarter-pounders to a fast food franchise that will serve 7 billion low-cost happy-meals a year.
I was asked last week by a colleague at work, if I truly believe the future of our diet as a community will not consist of consuming meat and/or dairy products.
I took a minute to consider the question and answer him honestly. The answer that surfaced did not surprised me, however the rationale did.
The answer is no, simply because compassion and reverence for Life is the goal of our human evolution.
Embracing veganism is not a moderate resolution. Instead, it is a dramatic, courageous, positive change the world is destined to experience.
It takes courage to witness the suffering and cruelty that is being done on our watch. A part of you breaks. From that space, reverence and authenticity emerges.
The feedback I got when I asked my friends how they viewed people who choose not to eat meat/dairy was indifferent.
‘It’s everyone’s choice to eat what they want.’
‘As long as ‘they’ aren’t pushing their beliefs on me, then it’s fine.’
However, one simply does not choose to become vegan so it is impossible to try and ‘convert’ someone.
Becoming vegan is definitely isolating at times and (as with anything challenging within ourselves) it’s easy and more comfortable to focus on judging others – but that’s not what I choose to do. I hope the people around me don’t think I am judging them or hoping to ‘convert’ them – because I truly understand veganism not to be a choice.
You see, I recognize that the only way to eliminate pain and suffering (by both animal and human) is very simple. Create Love and compassion in this world. This is our contribution and gift back to God (or whatever you choose to call it – the Source, the Divine, Buddha, etc). This Gift is not just a vegan’s gift but every and every one of us - to every creature (human and non-human) and with this we have the power to evolve our human race.
The quotes provided throughout this post were taken from the book: Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust