I became a strong advocate for animals two and a half years ago. Since I ‘woke up’, I’ve taken every opportunity I have had to speak for the animals. This has sometimes been a big challenge for me and I continue to learn how to effectively to do that. Throughout my life, I had always been sensitive of pushing my opinions on others. I felt that everyone had the right to their opinion and that I should respect their rights to do what they want. I rarely spoke up. Now, as anyone who has spent any time with me in recent years knows that I will speak up on this issue, trying to start a dialogue with people to show what I see, as the biggest injustice in the world. While I have to say, most people will listen respectfully to what I have to say, and I have had some wonderful dialogues with people, I am sure that the following thought must go through people’s minds: “Why does she care so much about animals? Why doesn’t she care and spend so much time working on the plight of landmine victims, battered women, fill in the needy cause here.
The fact is, I do really care about people. I really do. I have always been very sensitive to the plight of the powerless and the voiceless. I studied Peace Studies at university and the economies of developing countries. I learnt about the power of non-violent action, helped friends suffering with domestic violence and always felt a great deal of empathy and compassion towards those who were suffering. I organised sponsored walks for Oxfam whilst at university and felt very strongly against going to war. I have to admit, I was mostly all mouth and no action. I don’t really know why. I guess I didn’t have the direction and the motivation in those days. Not now. It is pretty much on my mind every second I’m not working.
These days though, I have found my voice and I feel strong enough to speak for those who are unable to do so. I will never stop doing that and I will never apologise for that. I will never stop speaking on behalf of the poor, the unfairly imprisoned, children, women and of course on behalf of the animals; the hundreds of billions who have tortured short lives and needlessly and violently have those lives cut short every year.
In case anyone ever wonders why I waste my time with animals, when I could be spending my time doing something else, I’d like to say these things:
- There is a lot of violence towards humans in the world. There’s no doubt about that. But the scale of suffering of animals, for turning beautiful beings in to pieces of meat to satisfy our tastebuds, is unlike anything else that is going on in this world right now. This violence and suffering could stop tomorrow. We just have to stop eating these sentient beings. We just have to choose other foods from the thousands of different plant foods out there. It’s easier than trying to stop a war or human traffiking. I’m not saying we shouldn’t try and stop these issues too, but, never has it been so easy to make such a difference to the hundreds of lives that the average person consumes each year. I see incredible suffering that gets so little airtime in our media, so little conversation, that I must speak up to raise awareness.
- My heart is large enough to hold everyone who suffers. I find that the more compassion I give to the world, the more I have to give. My compassion can envelop not only my own sex, but my race, my own species and to all living feeling beings and even our planet. I think unlimited compassion is a trait that should be valued and maybe even admired, not ridiculed or undermined.
- Any work that focusses on creating non-violence and kindness in this world affects all different kinds of social justice. All social justice advocates have the same goal: to eliminate violence, exploitation, cruelty and oppression. Violence breeds violence, and research has shown many times, the link between violence towards animals and violence towards people. This has been well documented in books like Slaughterhouse which examines the link between slaughterhouse workers and the domestic violence in their households. “Humanity’s true moral test, its fundamental test consists of its attitude to those who are at his mercy; animals, and in this respect humankind has suffered a fundamental debarcle, so fundamental, that all other debarcles descend from it.” Milan Kundara I believe this to be true.
- There are a lot of problems in this world. A lot of work needs to be done, and a lot of people don’t do anything about these problems at all. Criticizing me for doing something to try to make the world a better place when there are plenty of people who don’t do anything at all seems rather unfair. Let’s make people accountable for what needs to be done in this world.
- Most vegan advocates including myself don’t just limit their actions to helping animals. They often try to buy sweatshop-free clothes, fair trade, buy organic and local when possible, recycle and give regularly to many different charities and try to address all issues of the oppressed. I admit, I am not perfect, I make mistakes, I could do more, and there will be times when I am a bit of a hypocrite. I’ll just keep trying my best.