We all see things differently...
I will never judge you for eating meat. I myself was a meat eater for most of my life. I know that sometimes you're faced with a lot of hate and judgement from many vegans but please understand that it's not from every single one of them. Veganism equals compassion, we love you just as much as any other living being.
I will never say a bad word about you because it is not my place nor it is my intention. No matter what aspect of your life we are talking about, you are the only one looking at yourself in the mirror and you know what's right and what's wrong with you. All I can say is that I see myself in you. We all have defensive walls that protect our beliefs, things we were taught to believe from very young age.
"I would never go vegan", "Veganism is just so extreme" were two of the statements I would often hear myself say a few years back. I just couldn't see life without meat, leather, wool or pretty much any other animal-derived ingredient. How weird would I be if I was vegan? Jeez, what would my friends think? What would I eat? What about the protein and the gym? What about bacon? I just couldn't be that different...
Looking back now, I realised that there were things that I just didn't want to hear because I knew that my beliefs would be challenged. Beliefs, that were passed on in my family from generation to generation. I couldn't question them.
I hope that the story I am about to tell you will allow you a different level of understanding of why we (vegans) do what we do. Over the last few months, I have been observing the vegan movement and how harshly vegans judge you and how harshly you judge them. I think, as a race, the one thing we could really work on is a release of judgement.
The reason why I am writing this is so I can help you understand veganism from a different perspective. I didn't go vegan because it was the latest fad, I didn't go vegan for health reasons either. I went vegan because I realised that for most of my life I wasn't aware I had a choice. I think the truth was being kept away from me and when I reached adulthood I was too naive to question that "truth". I believe that I was being protected by those who thought that they were doing the right thing for me, my parents, who I love more than anything in this world. Yes, I was raised by omnivores.
My grandparents ate meat, my parents eat meat, everyone around me ate meat when I was a child. I was conditioned to believe that meat, fish and dairy are necessary for our survival. That meat is really the only option that we have. Enough about me for now, here is the story I mentioned earlier:
Jenny was raised in a vegan household. Jenny's parents went vegan in their early 20s. They moved to a small town and after getting married they rescued a few animals to keep on their tiny farm. Three cats, four dogs, few chickens, a couple of rescue pigs and a goat, that was as much as they could fit. They fell pregnant with Jenny a couple of years later. Jenny loved these animals and always cherished every moment with them, she helped her dad feed them and take care of them almost every day.
At the age of 6, Jenny was invited to Molly's birthday party. She loved being around other kids and always wanted to do the same things. She asked her mum if she could have "that crispy thing" that all the other kids were eating. She was talking about a chicken nugget from the table filled with lots of other animal-derived products. It took her mum by surprise but she knew it was a matter of time before she will have to tell Jenny about meat. This is when she said she had something important to tell Jenny and that because she was a big girl then, she would understand.
- “Jenny, of course, you can have that crispy thing. Before you do I would like you to know what it is and what it is made from but first I would like you to tell me if you want to know?” Said Jenny’s mummy.
- "Yes mummy, what is it?" Jenny asked.
- “The crispy things are called 'Chicken nuggets' Jenny” explained Jenny’s mummy.
Jenny giggled and said, "Mummy why would they call them chickens if they look nothing like them!?"
- “See Jenny, I know it may sound a little strange but when chickens go to heaven, some people choose to use their bodies for food. This is where chicken nuggets come from.”
- “Mummy but why would someone eat a chicken that died? When Crokey died we buried him and put flowers on his grave to help him go to chicken heaven.” (Crokey was one of Jenny's chickens)
- “This is a talk we will have when you are a little older my sweet pea. Would you like a chicken nugget?” Said Jenny’s mummy.
- Eeew, no mummy, I would never eat Crokey, nor would I eat Chloe or George. Eew. They are my friends!”
Chloe and George were the names of Jenny's other chickens. Later that day she asked her mum why people ate chickens again. Her mum knew that she had to respond to that question at some point and that right now she had opened up a can of worms which she would somehow have to deal with. So she told her a story:
"Once upon a time, mummy and daddy ate animals too Jenny. It wasn't just chickens but also cows, fish and sheep just to name a few. It does not make you a bad person. A lot of people are raised in families where eating meat and fish is a tradition or part of their culture. When mummy left grandmas and grandpas house, she found out that she had a choice of not eating these animals and this is how she met daddy. We met at a talk which discussed how we could save animals from factories where they were raised for meat. We chose to eat plants and when we got married we decided that when we had you, we would give you the choice we wish we had when we were your age; to choose if you'd like to see animals as food or as friends. You are still a little girl and when you are a little older and want to know more we can, of course, talk more about it, but I think you are grown up enough to decide for yourself whether or not you want to eat animals."
"Mummy, I don't want to eat animals. Animals are friends" said Jenny.
"Ok Jenny, I love you".
That night, just before going to sleep, Jenny said to her mum that no matter what, she would never eat animals.
Photo by Sean Malone on Unsplash
Jenny was raised as a vegan. She is now 23 years of age and throughout her whole life she has not touched a gram of animal-derived product nor has she ever purchased anything of animal origin. If she has, it was without her knowledge. Crazy, huh?
Molly's birthday was great. She received a lot of gifts and overall had a fantastic day with her friends. Running around, jumping in the bouncy castle, playing hide and seek. At the end of the day, she thanked her mum for a great birthday and asked her a question.
"Mummy, Jenny told me today she doesn't eat animals, what does it mean?"
"Ahh honey, Jenny's parents don't eat meat so they decided that they will raise Jenny the same way. It is a little extreme as they stop her from eating all the nice things and I am sure that when she is older and can make her own choice, she will start eating all the things that we do. If she tried milk chocolate or my beef lasagne she would definitely be upset with her parents for stopping her from eating all the tasty things. Meat and dairy are very important in our diets for muscles and healthy bones. Jenny will probably get ill more often than you do because she does not get the same vitamins. Meat and milk are important parts of our diet and just like our ancestors, we need it to grow healthy and strong. That's why Jenny is the skinniest in your class" said Molly’s mum.
"But mummy we wouldn't eat Max and he is an animal, isn't he? He is a dog?"
"Yes honey, we wouldn't eat Max. There is a big difference between Max and a pig, cow or a chicken. Max wouldn't make the same tasty burger as a meat from a cow would. These other animals are born in factories and raised for our use only. They don't play like Max, they also don't have feelings like Max."
"So these animals are really different?"
"That's right honey, they are different," said Molly’s mum.
Molly nodded with approval as if she understood the difference. Before falling asleep she said to her mum "Jenny does not know what she is missed out on, the cake was yummy today!"
"You're right honey, she doesn't."
The next day, Molly went to school and told her friends what her mum told her. She also told Jenny she was weird because she didn't eat the things that Molly and the rest of the school found normal. Jenny's mum prepared her for things like this but taught her to be compassionate towards others and to never be judgmental. Her mum told her that everyone's perception is different.
"Thank you, Molly, I just prefer to play with animals instead of eating them". Jenny said.
Molly didn't know what to respond so she just continued playing. You could tell that at the back of her mind she was confused.
Photo credit: Victoria Rodriguez from Unsplash
See the difference in perception here?
Jenny believed she was normal.
Molly believed she was normal too.
You may think that both girls were given a choice, but only Jenny was.
Jenny's life did not involve the slaughter of innocent beings. Her life was cruelty-free. It did not involve lies about animal agriculture, the perceived difference between one animal and the other and it did not hide anything from her. Jenny looked at all animals the same. She was just given an option not to.
Our upbringing plays a huge role in our lives. This is the time when we learn to love, to be happy or sad, we learn what is important and what is not. We learn the values that we will look up to for the rest of our lives. That is why it is crucial to teach our children compassion and love towards other human and non-human beings. We are raising future generations, should we equip them with the skills that will help them lead happier and healthier lives? Do you believe that a child taught to keep his empathy and loving heart could be happier and more in tune with everything around them than one unconsciously taught hate and violence? Hate and violence are essentially a huge part of animal agriculture.
The deeper I go into veganism, the more I believe that it is morally wrong to raise our children eating meat. I am a strong believer that we should raise every child vegan or vegetarian and give them the opportunity to choose to eat meat later in life when they are old enough to understand where it all actually comes from and how it’s made. If your child had a choice to live their life killing animals and life in which the animals live, what do you think they would choose? Why should we teach our children to love one but not the other?
With good vibes and gratitude,