By Monica on The Vegan Voice
As the abuses against animals accelerate with every newborn human, my sense of urgency and despair increases. The problem is that there are so many people who are just like I was. Even given the opportunity at a young age to “wake up,” and make that essential connection that leads to veganism, they don’t get it – they wait. And they delay. And the industry gets worse, bigger, and more disengaged from the fact that animals are just like us in all the ways that count.
I am a vegan. I love being a vegan. I feel evolved and grounded. If it weren’t for the pesky fact that billions of animals are dying in the worst possible manner on a daily basis for the bulk of humanity, I would be living in complete bliss. How I arrived here is a tale of a journey that took way too long, as far as I’m concerned.
I was raised in a large (in both contexts) Italian family on my father’s side, and strong stock from the Appalachian mountains on my mother’s side. Both sides had traditions steeped in using animals at every possible occasion. My parents were Catholic – thus, so was I – and God said in the Bible that the animals were ours to use for whatever purpose we deemed best for us (I’m sure now that He did not say any such thing, but if you questioned it then, there was always some embarrassing or painful punishment for thinking for yourself). I attended Sunday school, church, catholic grade school, the whole bit.
I believe, to this day, that my saving grace from becoming a completely dogmatic ignoramus was the fact that I also happened to reside in San Francisco in the 60’s (thank the Goddess), that I attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (where I received daily lessons in diversity from the students there), and that I was naturally an avid reader, with a huge interest in the history of other cultures, and how they perceived the world. I escaped my reality in books. Back then there was no vegan literature at the local library.
So I grew up in a diverse environment, where what I was taught was gospel truth by my family and their peers (pot roast and prime rib was a desired luxury to indulge in whenever possible, leather was “the finest,” fur trim on your boots or coat would set you above the rest, that financial gain was paramount to all other endeavors (we were not even close to financially stable at that time) – conflicted completely with what I was experiencing elsewhere in the City. I was a block away from Golden Gate Park, where I slept under the stars on many a night, near that famous venue, the Haight-Ashbury District, and all of the gatherings, free concerts, non-materialistic attitudes, non-violence, love-ins, and brown rice and vegetables that were a part of THAT culture beckoned me (and I followed).
I spent the next forty years in and out of strange places and relationships, had a daughter, became a grandmother, became a pagan dirt worshipper (now High Priestess) – thinking that was the ultimate “connection” with Nature – I hadn’t yet made the right connection – between the consumption of animals and the balance of Nature – and I never learned about factory farming and how massive the scale of it was. I called myself an animal advocate when I turned vegetarian at 38 years of age. I look back now and see my ignorance glaring back at me.
It took me until I was 52 years old to completely and finally commit to veganism and to let go of my old conditioned way of thinking, my excuses, my doubts, and my selfishness. Yet, at the same time, I realize that our society is designed to hide the truth from us schmucks, in order to keep the interdependent machine of cause (animal products) and effect (big pharma) going, with the help of our bought-and-paid-for government “representatives,” and to reach the truth beyond their massive marketing schemes is a real achievement, if not a miracle. So I kick myself and pat myself on the back at the same time, which is quite a feat in itself.
As the abuses against animals accelerate with every newborn human, my sense of urgency and despair increases. The problem is that there are so many people who are just like me. Even given the opportunity at a young age to “wake up,” and make that essential connection that leads to veganism, they don’t get it – they wait. And they delay. And the industry gets worse, bigger, and more disengaged from the fact that animals are just like us in all the ways that count. As deserving of life, love, liberty and the pursuit of their next meal as we are. Bring on the day.