At the moment our human world is based on the suffering and destruction of millions of non-humans. To perceive this and to do something to change it in personal and public ways is to undergo a change of perception akin to a religious conversion. Nothing can ever be seen in quite the same way again because once you have admitted the terror and pain of other species you will, unless you resist conversion, be always aware of the endless permutations of suffering that support our society.
~Arthur Conan Doyle
This quote kind of says it all, but because I’m a loud mouth, I’ll happily add my own two cents to it!
People often ask me why I made the decision to go vegan. I can point to certain events leading up to that moment that are helpful in explaining how I got here, but at the same time, when I really think about it, it’s almost as if it wasn’t a choice at all. Of course I wasn’t forced to be vegan – that’s not what I mean. What I mean is that it was almost like I had been asleep before and suddenly I woke up and saw the cruelty and suffering around me; being vegan seemed like something I simply had to do. I couldn’t ignore the fact that I had been contributing to animal suffering for 26+ years. I couldn’t look the other way anymore and continue to act as though I hadn’t just had a complete change in perception.
One of my favorite parts of Doyle’s comment is when he states that “nothing can ever be seen in quite the same way again”. We all experience awakenings throughout our lives, whether it’s because we fall in love or get our hearts broken, find religion, have children or any number of other major life events. These things change us permanently and profoundly–just as my awakening changed me. You see, I had always considered myself to be an animal lover, and yet I ate some animal or animal product every single day. What I really was was a dog and cat lover. Then, somehow I opened up my eyes to the beauty and wonder of all non-human animals; I forced myself to imagine the pain and suffering that farmed animals must experience every single day on factory farms, how excruciating each day must be for them… For me, it was virtually impossible not to have a complete change in perception.
I believe that most humans have the capacity to connect with non-human animals, but that we are discouraged from doing so from a very young age. We are taught that dogs and cats are companions, and cows, chickens, pigs, sheep, turkeys, etc. are for eating and/or using in some other way. It isn’t always easy and it can be scary (as change often is), but if you can open your heart up to the joy and beauty of other non-human animals, you will realize that they are not here to serve human purposes, and they most certainly are not here to endure senseless pain and cruelty only to be brutally killed for our dinner. They are here for their own reasons: to play in wide open pastures, to forage for food to nourish their own bodies, to create and nurture their families, and just to enjoy life. Who are we to take that from them?
My hope is that more people will allow themselves to see animals for the amazing individuals that they are; that more people will have their very own vegan awakening.