"The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men."
- Alice Walker summarizing Majorie Spiegel's, The Dreaded Comparison, Human and Animal Slavery.
Empathy is the key to embracing a vegan lifestyle. Animals are sentient beings. Anyone with a companion animal such as a beloved cat or dog are fully aware that animals are affectionate, loving, playful and also sense fear & pain. Those same attributes live within all animals even cows, chickens and pigs.
Dairy cow mothers bellow mournfully when their calves are taken away shortly after birth- that milk meant for their cow babies, pumped away for humans. Their calves receive no comfort from snuggling up to their mothers and mothers not allowed to nurse their babies. Male calves are chained & tightely crated in the dark for their short lives to become veal. Dairy cow mothers live short lives being impregnanted frequently to produce milk- these dairy mothers go on to become cheap ground up hamburger meat. Mother pigs are confined to gestation crates where they cannot even turn around for one second of their sad lives. Newly hatched male chicks are thrown by the hundreds into garbage bags or crushed live through a grinder as overflow trash. These are just a few heart-breaking scenarios of what humans subject farmed animals to just so we can have our porkchops, burgers, grilled chicken, eggs & milk. Take a second & imagine what these animals go through. There is nothing yummy about misery.
Living a vegan lifestyle means avoiding the use of animals for food, but also for clothes, shoes, bags & home & beauty products. There is no perfect vegan, but living in the most compassionate manner and trying to do no harm to animals is what we strive as ethical vegans. There are also plenty of environmental & health reasons to go vegan as well.
Booboo is my cat of nine years. She's a beautiful long-haired kitty. Years ago, I saw an anti-fur tv commercial- I saw images of frantic, scared fur-bearing animals like minks & foxes, desperate to escape confinement & the horrible torturous death that awaited them. During the commercial, I happened to glance over at Booboo when it hit me like a tons of bricks: there was no difference between my beloved Booboo and those fur animals on tv. I decided to stop wearing fur that night, but strangely, I still wasn't vegan.
I did not become vegan overnight. It started off quite gradually- first cutting out meat out of pure dietary disgust after reading, Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, but still eating fish & dairy for a number of years. At some point, I stopped wearing fur, but still wore leather & wool. At some point, I did a juice fast cleanse, which made me feel so amazing, I didn't want to incorporate animal protein back into my system. At this very same time, I learned about dairy & egg production which reinforced my decision to stick to a plant-based diet. Not long after, I realized that I wanted to embrace a full vegan lifestyle as well, not just a dietary one. I no longer purchased wool or leather goods or beauty and household products that contain animal ingredients, nor tested on animals. Lasting change is a gradual process. Ease into veganism. Little steps...
For me, every living, breathing, feeling animal is Booboo.