Compassion in Action: A Thank-You Letter to Jo
I have been hanging around the Grassroots Veganism site for a bit of a pick me up. I want to thank you for tirelessly working to promote compassion among us in the vegan community. Unfortunately, many vegans I share my life with have become so frustrated, enraged, or cynical that they really seem to hate all those people that make up "them" -- the corporations, administrations, hunters, omnivores, etc. It's so good to commune (even virtually) with other vegans whose fundamental motivation is compassion.
I started my move to veganism many years ago, when I was five or six years old. I had, for many years, gone fishing with my dad, and on one day I caught a tiny rock bass. The poor little creature swallowed the hook, and though my dad worked quickly to remove the hook from its throat, by the time the hook was out, it was too late. I sat on the beach and watched for an eternity as the little fish gasped and circled, and eventually died. I sat and thought how horrible it was that the fish had died, for no good reason. After all, I wasn't ever planning on eating it; it was just caught for “fun.” I stopped eating fish, and all other "wild game" soon followed, as I thought about how the animals had been killed unsuspectingly in their homes. I stopped eating sheep when I witnessed a lamb killed at a friend's farm one fall, but somehow I had convinced myself that animals in slaughterhouses felt no pain when they were killed.
Many years later, I was eating only free-range, organic animals and their products, and only on occasion, when a close friend went vegan over night. I already knew the interconnectedness of animal industries, so I thought it illogical to be vegetarian while still eating cheese and wearing leather and vice versa. I was visiting my brother and his partner in Calgary when I stopped in at a store and bought a copy of Vegan Vittles for my friend. I read every word before I returned to Ontario. The combination of the stories and photos of the beautiful critters from the Farm Sanctuary and the easy recipes made it crystal clear to me that to eat cows but not pigs (because they're as smart as dogs, and I cried through Babe) was downright absurd. I thought of watching that fish slowly suffocating, and the lambs screaming as their throats were cut, and I realized that using animals for anything ultimately ended in a violent death for the animal, and that my personal ethics did not allow for any individual, human or non-human, to have their life taken from them. I became both a strict vegetarian, and then an ethical vegan, not long after. While I realise many things helped me along the way towards veganism, your book came along at just the right time.
So, thank you Jo, for gently guiding me with patience and thoughtfulness through your words, and for your ongoing support. It's always wonderful to be supported in my movement towards/through compassion, especially when part of me would really like to yell at my roommate, get mad at my cat, or preach at my unconverted family members.
Peace and bright blessings,
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