Compassion for animals and even other humans is looked upon with scorn by some segments of the population. I believe this is in some part due to the meat industry and their influence in our society. It is a sad fact that Big Meat makes more money when they raise and kill more animals (OK, I’ll need a better ominous name for the meat industry- that seems like a frat brother’s nickname).
When an industry’s profit margin is a result how cheaply it can support and then end life, there are bound to be some ghastly results. However, since the PETA warriors handle all of the shock and awe tactics, I will refrain from the nauseating images and stories and let you mull that over on your own time. Instead, allow me to reflect on my own transformation and at the same try to answer a question Sheree asked.
If you have not noticed it before, there is a comment section at the end of each blog post here. I derive an enormous amount of strength from the supportive comments that a lot of the regular readers leave. I was comforted during the cravings in the beginning, I was educated on my newbie mistakes, and more recently, I was supported during a weight loss plateau. There are some who comment once every few months and others who are more consistently visible, but they all keep me from feeling like I am shouting into the void.
Sheree is one of the regulars. She is a kind, caring vegan who found her way to animal-free living years ago. She has been very upbeat and supportive throughout my nine months of being a veganaut. During the previous post’s discussion, she asked a great question about the catalyst for my change from plant-based dieter to compassionate vegan. She agrees that anyone giving up meat for any reason is a benefit to animal welfare in general, but was specifically curious about my own inner change… and I am NOT going to pass up an opportunity to talk about myself.
Rather than retelling the whole story of my dysfunctional relationship with food, I’ll summarize by saying, I was messed up. It would be fun to try and blame other people but I used my hands and my money to buy bad things to put into my body. It’s hard to shift that kind of blame off of myself.
After soul searching and researching, I came to the conclusion that a plant-based diet would be the healthiest way to reclaim a few of the decades I’d tried to steal from the end of my life. This is a selfish reason to give up meat and dairy and eggs, but I didn’t hear any animals complaining about my choice. The Earth was pleased with the decision as well, but I was not really worried about how a planet felt when chest pains were forcing me to my knees.
During the first few weeks, while the cravings were running their course, I was completely focused on how much better I felt and how relived I was that a simple change in diet could effect how I feel so drastically. I was really enjoying the payoff of the health benefits I changed for. However, it was during this time that my motivation began to morph.
For meat eaters to enjoy bacon in the morning they have to do a lot of compartmentalizing. They have to take the movie Babe and stick it in a mental jail cell that isn’t visited during breakfast. They need to take what they know about the intelligence of their pets versus the intelligence of brilliant pigs and lock that up in another mental jail cell until the bacon is done sizzling. They are forced to repress all of the images of the inhumane living and dying conditions that animals are forced to endure so that we can eat them.
I know what I am talking about here- I ate pork by the handful, beef with reckless abandon, and whole chickens at a time. Meal time was NOT a time to release all of the truths that I had in lock-down. It was the time to pretend that meat comes from a grocery store and not a factory farm. I was never ignorant about the meat industry, I was simply in denial.
An amazing thing happened as the meat-free weeks passed. Every day that passed was another day when I didn’t have to lie to myself. I didn’t need to pretend that meat isn’t a product of another creatures death. I was able to let the truths out of their mental jail cells for longer and longer walks around the yard. Eventually, these truths were allowed to have conjugal visits and that is when they began to multiply.
Compartmentalizing is a great way to cope with conflicting beliefs and overwhelming trauma. It is also a very effective tool for lying to ourselves. Unfortunately, just because we can hide certain truths when they become inconvenient does not make them disappear. It just makes us live our lives in way that is contrary to our actual belief system.
Plant-based dieting may be a selfish reason to give up meat, dairy and eggs- but it is a gateway to compassion. Celebrate this seemingly selfish motive in others because it is the first step in removing their blinders so they can live an honest and compassionate life.
A closing note to you lurkers who read silently but regularly. I see your visits on my view counter and even without you saying a word I am grateful for your presence. It is easy to imagine you all walking with me as I stroll past McDonald’s and through the meat department at my own grocery store. Your silent reminders make it easy for me to walk confidently away from my old life and comfortably into the new one I share with you here. Gratsi.