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We advocate on all animal protection and exploitation issues, including experimentation, factory farming, rodeos, breeders and traveling animal acts.

Animal Defenders of Westchester
P.O. Box 205
Yonkers, NY 10704

Articles

Concern for animals led to a 'compassionate diet'

Published in THE JOURNAL NEWS www.thejournalnews.com , July 25, 2002, 'First Person' column:

By Denise Boffi

Pinpointing the exact beginning of the journey is difficult.  I have many hazy childhood memories, but perhaps my earliest recollection is bouncing along happily in my carriage, my mother and grandmother fruitlessly trying to lull me to sleep because I made them so tired.  Suddenly to my surprise and delight, two dogs poked their shaggy heads over the sides of the carriage, wet noses sniffing curiously at what was probably a loaded diaper.  No screaming on my part - only a chubby hand reaching out to those two friendly faces.

Throughout the years, there were many situations in which my affinity for animals shone through.  There were the rescued baby birds and calls to the humane society if I witnessed cruelty or neglect.  I have pounded on doors early in the morning to remind 'forgetful' neighbors of the dog tied to a back yard tree, and have returned lost dogs to their owners.  My zeal to help led me to twice 'rescue' dogs who happened to be in their own neighborhoods.  But my heart was always in the right place, and I could never bear to see animals lost, hurt or in need.

Interestingly, I never made the connection between my concern for hurt, abused or lost animals and the food I was eating every day.  I remember my shock when as a child I realized that 'chicken legs' were just that.  But it didn't stop me from continuing to eat them.  It seemed so normal.  It was 'food,' right?

As an adult I received a regular stream of mail from animal rights groups. I remember opening the envelopes carefully and peeking cautiously at the contents before I tossed it all into the trash. I felt uneasy seeing photographs of animals suffering. (God forbid because of anything I was doing. I was one of the good guys, right?)

As the years passed, I continued helping any animal I saw in need. I also continued to enjoy steaks, barbecued spare ribs and cheeseburgers. But slowly, things changed. I began to look at those meals a little differently. Even though I was just peeking at that information from the animal rights groups, some of it penetrated and gradually changed my perceptions. My enjoyment of steaks, burgers and chicken wings was interrupted by visions of the fruitless struggle for life and the bloody horrors of the slaughterhouse. I could no longer relish any meal that contained the flesh of any creature that valued his life as much as I valued mine. The world of veggie alternatives and possibilities for a more compassionate diet began to dominate my thinking and cooking.

The change in diet was only the beginning of a gradual and wondrous change in values and perceptions. Making the decision not to cause any living creature to suffer was spurred by a growing reverence for all life. It was the realization that all the creatures with whom we share the planet have their won destiny to fulfill and the right to live out their lives free from human interference and domination. It's a perspective in which cooperation replaces competition, and respect for all life determines all choices.


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