I’ve been thinking about what to write for weeks. The longer I’ve been vegan, the less I have to say. I stay in my bubble and do my thing.
She’s reading books, listening to podcasts, watching movies. I remember that phase – soaking in all of the information. She recently asked me how I handle it when people don’t understand. We’ve all been there: the family members who don’t want to hear about animal cruelty. The friends who think they could never give up cheese. The acquaintances who think you’re being too difficult when trying to find a veg-friendly dining establishment. I empathized with her, asked her if she felt comfortable with certain responses. It was nice to relate to someone on this level; the number of vegans I interact with out in the world has gotten smaller over the years.
One thing that hasn’t changed since I read Skinny Bitch a decade ago is my struggle to understand how people can ignore where their food comes from. Knowledgeable, compassionate, progressive people will still choose to eat animals, seeing it as a palate preference and not as an ethical issue. These same people may be livid when they hear that dogmeat is popular in another country. They were cheering for the raccoon who scaled a Minnesota skyscraper earlier this June. But bacon is tasty and plants don’t have enough protein. It’s simultaneously frustrating and expected.
We are conditioned from the beginning of our short lives on this planet by a system that’s older than our closest relatives. Of course it seems logical that a cow feels pain the way a dog would. But cows are raised for food, and dogs aren’t, at least not here. Of course there’s protein in beans, nuts, and other foods, but we grew up with four food groups and meat is one of them. Of course we don’t need to drink cow’s milk, which exists to grow a baby cow into a very large steer, but milk grows strong teeth and bones. Conditioning is very real, and very difficult to break out of.
I told the first-year vegan that we should have lunch and discuss, but she’s doing just fine. She knew about a veg fest I had no inkling of. She listens to a podcast I didn’t know was producing new episodes. She showed a couple documentaries to a friend who stopped eating animals afterwards.
I am so glad that veganism is continuing to spread.
People are realizing that oppression exists everywhere. It’s what we will do with this realization that counts.