Now that I feel committed to veganism, I find I have moments when I feel like I’m moving among people who are frozen in time. I’ve standing in front of them, telling them how veganism has changed my life for the better, I’m showing them videos that explicitly show the horrors of factory farming, I’m sharing articles and websites with ideas and information that seem irrefutable. I’m admittedly enthusiastic, but I’m trying to be positive and gently encouraging. Yet they remain frozen, and I wonder, how are they not compelled? Why does it seem like they don’t care? In resignation, I move about my business. They wake up, sort of, but they’re still asleep, eating bacon, burgers and cheese, as if I hadn’t been there at all. Am I invisible? Can anyone hear me?
I remind myself that my awareness of the atrocities that happen to animals has been increasing for several years, and it took time and reflection for me to arrive at the obvious conclusion: I had to stop being complicit, the way I eat needed to reflect my values. I remind myself that perhaps something I’ve shared is being absorbed, and it needs time. After all, one doesn’t plant a seed, and instantaneously have a tomato plant heavy with ripened fruit. Maybe I’ve planted a seed that will germinate and grow, but maybe I’ve planted a seed in infertile soil, or maybe my technique is wrong, and nothing will take root. When I’m ignored, dismissed, challenged, or mocked, by default, the animals I’m trying to represent are ignored, dismissed, challenged, or mocked. I don’t want to fail them. I could never have anticipated the elation and clarity that veganism has brought to me, mixed with disheartening defeat that everywhere I turn, it seems people don’t care. It is an unlikely and disorienting combination of emotions.
A couple of days ago, I caught a discussion on Facebook about an article that said sugar contributes to high cholesterol. The responses to the posted article amounted to a chorus of friends and friends of friends singing the praises of eggs. I tried to gently suggest that regardless of health benefit or cost of eating eggs, there are other implications for eating eggs that are worth considering, including public health issues, environmental costs, and of course, the despicable treatment of egg-laying chickens who suffer immensely. Let’s just say my comments weren’t well-received, and seemed to be misconstrued. Then, as if my comments were irrelevant, someone contributed a comment about the supposed merits of eggs and liver. Liver.
I was surprised at how taken aback I was. I would have been just as offended if that person said they barbecue golden retrievers over an open fire, and everyone chimed in about how delicious barbecued dog is. At its essence, it would be no different from how the consumption of a cow’s liver was enthusiastically promoted. It felt so surreal to have this clear notion of how barbaric his comment was, and yet, no one saw it. At that point, I was done. I was so upset by the liver comment, and the defensive responses to my comments that I left the discussion, sorry I even tried.
I’m new to this. I want to reach people. I want to change the world. I want to save the animals and the planet. I don’t have kids, but I want to make the world a better, less violent place for other people’s kids. It’s hard in the face of opposition, hostility, ambivalence, and silence though. It’s hard to inspire people who are unwilling to change, who close their eyes and tune me out, who are stuck. It’s hard to compel them to move.