Can Anyone Hear Me?

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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.

"Not Listening" by Christian Bucad
“Not Listening” by Christian Bucad

11 thoughts on “Can Anyone Hear Me?

  1. This is exactly how I feel about innocent unborn babies being slaughtered and mothers making that terrible choice. I fight hard to raise that awareness yet it falls on deaf ears too. :(

  2. I feel exactly the same so i am glad its not just me! But i don’t know what it will take to make people listen and feel how i do. Love this blog post :-)

  3. Look, I’m a vegan too, but you can’t become a vegan and suddenly expect everyone around you to care and follow your suit. You should become a vegan for your own beliefs, not because you want to become an authority and watch people flock after you like you’re some all-knowing leader. Being a vegan doesn’t make us any better than anyone else. We all “sin” in a manner of ways, and being a vegan doesn’t mean we’re smarter or more informed or more aware. It means we’ve chosen one form of activism to get behind and we’re passionate about it. Don’t turn your activism into sounding like a sad victim just because people don’t have all the same beliefs that you have. That’s like a Christian getting mad at a group of Muslims for not wanting to be Christians. That’s not how it works. Choose your own life and live it without demanding that others deem you queen of their world and must live the same live you’ve chosen.

    1. I’m not really sure how to respond to this. My sense is that you’ve already made some inaccurate assumptions about me and my motivations based on this single blog post. Feeling sad is perfectly normal, and I’m comfortable expressing my sadness. Feeling sad doesn’t make me a victim. It makes me human.

      As for having deleted my comments, I did not do so because I was challenged. I haven’t been vegan for long, but I have been challenged quite a few times, and even when people are content to be carnists, as long as everyone has been respectful and open-minded, very engaging discussions have ensued.

      I hope that when I have more experience, and I’m more connected to the vegan community, I can offer more kindness and understanding to new vegans than you have shown to me.

  4. It’s also important to note that deleting your comments on a post just because they were challenged is not something an advocate would do. If you’re going to advocate for something that represents a minority in this country, you need a tougher skin and be willing to have someone challenge your beliefs. You ‘made a suggestion’ that they think differently but were offended that they replied and didn’t totally agree with you? There’s a saying, there’s no zealot like a convert. You’re assuming that someone who isn’t a vegan doesn’t know what you know. I’m really baffled by how you’ve turned your passion for veganism into being the poor victim who can’t understand why she joined a minority group and yet the majority of those around her are not part of that minority. You’re missing the point.

  5. Wow. Lee ann. First of all, thank you for publicly mocking my article on your blog. I find it fascinating that you’re so avid about changing the way animals are treated and yet at the same time you are actually showing very little kindness to a member of the human race.

    Secondly, if you can’t handle having people respond with opposing arguments to your posts in a public arena…then you really shouldn’t be advocating publicly for anything…because there are two (if not more than two) sides to everything.

    I choose to eat eggs, but I also ensure that my eggs (and 90% of the other animal product I consume) come from a farm 5 miles down the road from my home where I have met the animals, and witnessed that their living conditions are humane.

    (I’d also like to add that the person who left the comment about eating liver is far from ignorant. He’s actually in his final year of training to become a Naturopathic MD…far from ignorant. He’s actually incredibly passionate about his health and where his protein comes from.)

    Additionally, I believe, along with a good portion of today’s research, that eating animal protein does my body good. For those who don’t believe that, that’s fine, but I would by no means go around the vegan communities mocking them for not eating protein. Because people are allowed to have their own philosophies and ideals around how they feed themselves.

    That doesn’t mean I’m not informed. I watch the videos documenting animal cruelty, and that’s why I avoid anything that is the product of factory farming. But I also read a slurry of nutritional science and research on a daily basis that helps form my personal philosophies of how I feed myself. Everything I eat takes into account my own well being, my 3 chronic illnesses, and the way the food I’m eating is treated when it’s alive.

    I applaud you for being passionate about how you feed your own body, but I find it painfully hypocritical that you now seem to stand on top of a stoop above the rest of us and think we ought to live like you…and then mock us for not living like you. Kindness goes both ways.

  6. Whoa, I think there’s been a huge misunderstanding, Ginger. I didn’t mock you article at all, I would never do such a thing. Never. I honestly didn’t read the article because I’ve already read information about the relationship between sugar and cholesterol. I agreed with you that limiting sugar intake is a good idea. I mentioned the article here only to provide context because it inspired comments that were in favor of eggs. My comments were solely in response to the discussion about eggs on Facebook, and as I recall, none of the comments were even your personal comments. They were comments by others, although I can’t verify that now. I was baffled by your responses because it seemed like you took my comments very personally, even though they were in response to others’ comments, which I stated at the time after it seemed like you thought I was criticizing you in some way, which I wasn’t. Your response came across as defensive, and you wouldn’t let it go, despite my attempts to clarify, and smooth it over. It seemed like I had upset you, which was not my intention, so I regretted trying to offer a different view. I very intentionally tried not to be preachy. I merely suggested that in addition to health, there are broader considerations for food choices such as public health, the environment, and the animals. In the end, I was most upset by your friend’s comments about liver, and that’s why I deleted my comments. It was offensive to me, and I no longer wanted to participate in that dialogue. I didn’t want to receive any additional notifications of that nature. Since I no longer have an option to stop notifications on FB, and out of concern that the liver comment was going to segue into more pro-meat talk, I deleted my comments. I feel like there’s been a big misunderstanding here. I haven’t mocked you, or anyone for that matter, nor did I mock your article. I hope we can get past this misunderstanding.

    1. You have an impressive way of looking at your own behavior (and writing), Lee Ann. I disagree with you wholeheartedly and do not appreciate the condescension in both this article and your comments on FB (which you deleted…which is rather telling and cowardly). To say that I was defensive is pretty funny…you criticized the article blatantly, and all of us for appreciating eggs, and you’re surprised I defended myself? You made NO mention of agreeing with the article around it’s points on sugar, you simply criticized, and I responded–that’s how conversations work. You can’t just leave your thoughts and expect no one to respond! You act as though you’re the first person we’ve ever met who became a vegan, and how could we possibly not follow your lead. Live your life the way you want, and let others live theirs. The end.

  7. Hi, I’m the liver guy!

    Liver is great. I eat liver or take cod liver oil almost every day. Eggs too.
    Just for reference, my last A1C was 4.6 and my blood lipids look more like a healthy teenager then someone my age (34).

    What I said in the comments of Ginger’s article is that liver is the most nutritionally dense food on the planet (and eggs are second). Its prized and almost a delicacy all over the world… except of course here in the USA (although it used to when we were healthier).

    Like Ginger, I get my food (both animal and plant) from local, naturally raised sources. This is very important both nutritionally and environmentally (very important for veggies too..not just animal products).

  8. As a ex farmer, I’m here to tell you there is no “humane” way to slaughter animals. My friend Bob Comis wrote this article, short and sweet but to the point. This is all written without the gruesome details.

    It is 5:00 am. It is 15 degrees outside, and the leading edge of a snowstorm that might drop up to sixteen inches on us is merely miles away. Outside in this winter wonderland, scattered about the farm in fields and a barn, are 250 pigs, nestled warmly in deep straw in their shelters or barn, sleeping soundly in great big pig piles, sharing body heat and the social comfort of physical contact. They are happy pigs. They are, perhaps, as happy as happiness. After all, everything they could ever want or desire is right at hand, or hoof, in this case. Food, shelter, water, fresh air, room to roam, to run, to play, warm, deep straw to burrow into. They want for nothing, even in the depth of winter. As they wander around their paddocks or barnyard, snooping around through the snow and even rooting up the frozen soil, they make a steady stream of quiet grunting sounds that express contentment, and communicate to other pigs where they are. The quiet grunts go back and forth between the pigs all day long. It is as soothing as the sound of cicadas on summer evenings.

    Some of the pigs, those in the barn, where it is warmest, and the straw is the deepest, are only forty pounds. Others are 150 lbs. The biggest are over 300 lbs. The big pigs are so immune to the cold that when it is twenty degrees and sunny, they will dunk their heads in the water tank for fun as I fill it, trying to lap the water off their snouts as it drips off of them. Their various expressions of contentment, of happiness, are infectious. I never walk away or drive away on the tractor from taking care of a group of pigs without smiling, or often, even chuckling out loud.

    Ten of those biggest pigs are going to die tomorrow, not at my hand, but at my request. Later this afternoon, while they are napping, I will trap them in their shelter with a series of panels. Then I will back the livestock trailer up to the panels and create a sort of chute into which I can herd the pigs and drive them up onto the trailer. Once they are on the trailer, I will drive those ten pigs, those ten happy pigs, to the slaughterhouse, where I will unload them into a holding pen. Because of the storm that is coming, I cannot drop them off tomorrow, which I would prefer. Instead, those happy pigs will have to spend the last night of their lives unhappy, in an unfamiliar, strange smelling, concrete floored holding pen before they are herded one by one into a chute where they will be quickly killed.

    Before 9:00am tomorrow, by the time that I have plowed out the snow so that I can feed and water the remaining happy pigs, the ten pigs that I left at the slaughterhouse will be dead. They will have been shot in the head with a captive bolt gun to render them unconscious, then a stout, exceptionally sharp knife will have been plunged into their still beating hearts in order to make all of the life giving blood that had been coursing through their veins and arteries come gushing out, creating a thick, spreading pool of crimson red on the grey concrete slaughterhouse floor. Twenty minutes later they will be pristinely lifeless, split into two halves and hanging by each hind leg from long, shiny, stainless steel hooks attached to a rail by a wheel so that the dead pigs can be rolled into the cooler so that their bodies, their carcasses, still warm from the life that was taken from them so that we can eat their meat can be chilled down to the USDA prescribed less than forty degrees. Their eyes, their very human looking eyes that in life peer out at you with an obvious intelligence, will be as still and glassy as marbles.

    In the current discourse, happy pigs are the ideal alternative to the miserable and abused pigs raised in factory farms. Happy pigs become happy meat, and happy meat is good. We should feel good about eating happy meat.

    Happy meat, really? I am haunted by the ghosts of nearly 2,000 happy pigs.

    (About a month ago, I had my final crisis of conscience, in a decade of more or less intense crises of conscience. Having abandoned the last vestige of what seemed to be at the time legitimate justification, happiness and a quick, painless death, I became a vegetarian. I am now in the beginning stages of the complicated process of ending my life as a pig farmer.)

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