Over twenty years ago, I read in my local newspaper that Columbia-Greene
College scheduled a presentation about biomedical research on the notorious and
long-suffering Silver Spring monkeys. Having worked in biomedical research as a
registered medical technologist while earning my undergraduate degree, I felt
compelled to attend the lecture.
The speakers turned out to be Ed Ashton and Mrs. Ashton of the Animal Rights
Advocates of the Hudson Valley (ARAHV). The Ashtonsí obvious gentleness,
sincerity, and knowledge impressed me. I remember Ed explaining how animal
products could gradually be eliminated from a personís diet. I also remember
speaking with an attendee who told me she had stopped using all animal products
"overnight" in Switzerland, after hearing a talk about animal suffering.
At the time, I had no idea that I was embarking on a journey that would
change not only me, but my husband Frank as well. When I told Frank about what I
had heard, he joined me in gradually eliminating animal products from our home.
We already knew about the cruelty of veal and avoided it. Now we were expanding
our awareness by dropping beef and pork! Baby steps! In our ignorance, we
actually increased our consumption of poultry and fish; and we continued
consuming the same amount of dairy products as before.
As we continued to learn, we reached the point of gradually eliminating more
and more animal products until the Thanksgiving Day when we no longer had
turkey. It felt good to be free of this self-imposed straight-jacket of
"tradition." Dairy products were the last dietary habit to go. Here, Frank led
the way. We were not yet fully aware of the inherent cruelty of the dairy
industry. But since Frank had minor health problems that seemed to be hanging
on, he decided to take the plunge and stop all dairy products. His symptoms
For another year, I ignored Frankís suggestion that I try eliminating my
mozzarella cheese and skim milk. At the time, I did not associate my lingering
sore throat with dairy product consumption. The trip to the doctor only
prolonged the problem. He gave me sample antihistamines and a prescription for
an antibiotic, as well as a printed diet which was the SAD (standard American
diet). He advised me about "eating everything in moderation." Frank continued to
urge me to try dropping dairy products. And finally in 1988, approximately one
year after Frankís "going vegan," I took the plunge. And voila! The sore throat
was gone, never to return!
We continue to learn and to encourage others in their "journeys." In January
1998 we started our web site,
www.all-creatures.org to promote
compassionate living and a vegan lifestyle according to Judeo-Christian ethics.
Our web site outreach has continued to grow to the point where we receive over
300,000 accesses a week, from all over the world, for our 5,200-plus documents.
And the journey continues.
Iíll leave you with two of my favorite quotations (and I have many): "To go
against the dominant thinking of your friends, of most of the people you see
every day, is perhaps the most difficult act of heroism you can have." (Theodore
H. White, American political writer, 1915-1986) and "To live is to change, and
to be perfect is to have changed often." (John Henry Newman)
Donít be afraid to change!