I almost never like the reactions I have to things, mostly interactions with people, at the time or after I have it. Those who know me know that I tend to be slow to speak – I won’t jump in, interrupt and I generally won’t contribute if I think my point was already or soon will be made by another. Without therapy, my guess is that this comes from having been the last born in a large (average for then) family of very vocal children and a Father whose every word we hung on over our evening meals.
The other day, I had one of those regrets – an interaction brought upon me by a stranger and as I later told a close friend: I regret not saying more, anything, as my beliefs on the subject are plentiful and that was my moment to try to share. It wasn’t until this morning that I realized that isn’t completely true. THIS is another moment to share and hopefully in this platform, with more than one person, bearing more than one belief system … so here goes.
Walking my dog and attempting to take pleasure in the sounds around me and put the stress and anxiety of these days to the back of my mind on a beautiful warm evening in Yaletown, I rounded to corner to the seawall to the sound of beautiful, peaceful music. When I turned to see where the music was coming from, however, it was the background music to a video on a HUGE screen, showing animals being tortured by/for the meat industry. As quickly as it caught my eye, I turned away, knowing that even that quick glimpse would stay with me for weeks, when one of the organizers “caught” and challenged me for turning away. With the only goal being escape, I said “I’m already vegan, I don’t need to see that” and tried to keep walking. He challenged me further saying “are you really? because everyone is saying that just to get by”. “Yes”, I said, “a lifetime vegetarian, vegan for the last 15 years” and then succeeded in getting away.
I regret this very very much. I left that person with the impression that I supported his use of that imagery to shock and horrify people instead of voicing my own strongly held beliefs on the subject, as his imposition of his on me and all of my neighbours permitted.
Just like I say to those I call Vegan Elitists, who challenge anyone whose beliefs aren’t 100% aligned with theirs – this type of Vegan won’t limit their disdain to omnivores but are even critical of other plant based humans who venture into processed ‘meat-like’ plant based food, don’t make their own nut milks or know/care how to ferment stuff … “Love and inclusiveness will always accomplish more than shocking and shaming people”. I’m the only vegan in my circle of close friends and relatives, I love and respect every single one of them as I do their own right to choose. If asked, I encourage mindfulness – let’s reduce our cruelty footprint by eating LESS meat, spend time researching the source of your meat/fish/dairy and ensure it’s being produced for you as humanely as possible”.
Don’t show me animal torture. Show me a free cow playing with a dog, a freed pig, lying in a clean pen, sunning itself, bright white freed and recovered geese. Share THAT story. If an omnivore falls in love with a species, that’s likely where consuming them ends – one species at a time. My favourite place to go to see this loves move forward is in the @FarmSanctuary twitter feed. I’m sure there are others. If you follow my dog (@Buster_Sit) on Twitter, you’ll see more of that.
So, no. I don’t support extremism, shock or shame tactics. They only move people AWAY rather than toward what you’re trying to say.
How can you have a conversation with someone you just shocked into turning away from you?