Posted by: conradvisionquest | May 19, 2010

Live and Let Die?

Vegan. This word and idea itself will cause some people to turn off, close their mind, not listen. I understand that. I’ve learned so much in just the past couple of months… about myself, about society and it’s messages, about why we don’t want to know, and about reconciling all of this with what we do in our daily lives. Of course we don’t want to see other living beings suffer, so we cover our eyes and ears so we can live with ourselves and our lifestyle choices. I get that. I’ve been there.

“Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.”–Albert Schweitzer

I didn’t set out to become a vegan. I just started asking questions about where the food I was eating was coming from. When you start asking questions, the answers may surprise you. And those surprises may even change your way of doing things. What is even more surprising is why I didn’t find out about what goes on in the food industry sooner, why more people don’t know, and that everyone isn’t outraged by it. Beef and milk and poultry and eggs are all big business, and that money is used to spin the truth and market their product: animals.

“But they’re just animals?” Why is it so horrifying when some guy in Australia eats his pet dog at the family barbecue but it’s ok to kill a pig for food? And why do people get upset because they ran over a squirrel with their car then go home and eat pork chops for dinner. But I already know why. I used to do it, too. The family pet and the squirrel running across the road are right in front of us.  We can see them living and breathing.  I have never eaten veal because I thought it was cruel to eat a baby cow. I know people who don’t eat deer because they don’t want to eat Bambi. We are thinking about what the meat actually is.  But what about cows and pigs and chickens? People don’t make the connection between these animals and their food. We are all disconnected, not just with our food, but with each other. People don’t consider how their choices affect others, just that they are getting what they want. We all do it. Who wants to think about a cow being slaughtered when we are craving a steak?

“You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

When I started learning about where our “food” comes from, I was horrified. What goes on within the animal industry on a daily basis would horrify anyone. But vegans are still seen as the “extremists.” Just like Paul McCartney says, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.”

Even though I don’t agree with eating animals, I don’t judge you for it. I used to BE you. I don’t think people who eat meat are intentionally wanting to hurt animals. I think if people had to slaughter their own meat, or even if they just had to witness the slaughter, they would eat a lot less or stop altogether. So even though I think it’s wrong to use animals for food when it’s not necessary, even though I think that factory farming is wrong, even though I think the concept of “happy meat” is wrong, I don’t think people are wrong. I think their choices are misinformed. But the sticky part is these choices don’t just affect YOU. They affect other living beings.

I know, in my soul, that to eat a creature who is raised to be eaten, and who never has a chance to be a real being, is unhealthy. It’s like… you’re eating misery. You’re eating a bitter life.”
– Alice Walker

I’m pretty “live and let live” when it comes to most things. Religion, sexual preference, political views… it’s all good. Everyone has opinions and different ways of looking at the world. As long as you are not hurting anyone else, do what you want. When the choices we make affect other living beings outside of ourselves in a negative way, that’s when we need to revisit those choices.
Now when I go out with friends, I can’t help but look at what’s on their plate with new eyes. I am more sensitive to where their food came from as they happily chomp on their cheese burgers and hot wings. And even though I want to tell them what they are eating, I don’t, because I used to be sitting in that seat. I came to this lifestyle on my own. I’m not sure I would have if someone was telling me to. Or maybe I wish someone had told me about it sooner.

So this is my internal conflict. I don’t want to be the stereotypical vegan that gets all up in your face while you are eating, but meanwhile I think of all the animals that die for food who don’t have a voice or a choice. I feel like my hands are bound. On one hand I want to shout from the roof tops out of frustration because I see all this horror around and no one is doing anything about it.  On the other hand I know that there is a way to go about things, and being aggressive most likely is not it.

Check out Jamie’s recent post at Save the Kales that is along these same lines.

So what do you think? Are you having similar internal struggles?



  1. Thank you for the mention! I love this topic, I love this whole idea of the process – that’s really what veganism is for most people, a deeply personal and revealing process. That’s usually why people become so passionate – it’s caused them to reflect on a lifetime worth of habit, family meals, advertising, and moral ground.

    Of course, sometimes people jump right in 🙂 I love learning about other people’s stories. Thanks for sharing yours.

    • i also love reading about other people’s stories, too. the whole social aspect of this is really starting to fascinate me. thanks for commenting, Jamie!

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