Sunday, August 22, 2010

I'm not an animal rights activist

I became a vegetarian 20 years ago in the Spring of 1990.
I made that decision (for the second time) after years of study on the health benefits of a meatless diet.
I say for the second time, because I flirted with vegetarianism a couple of years before that.  But after giving birth to my kids and coming across bible verses that appeared to contradict the vegetarian idea, I temporarily went back to eating animals.

Once I did more study,(biblically and nutritionally) I came to the definitive conclusion that removing animal flesh from my diet was indeed the healthiest way to live.   But ethics rarely entered into the equation.  Sure, when I learned how veal calves were raised, in my mind that was just too much and could not condone such cruelty. Even though I can't say that I have any memory of ever even consuming veal.
But I never knew what else lurked behind the closed doors of the meat and dairy industries.

When the subject would come up of my at the time strange diet, I would politely answer people's questions about health and such and then almost as a reassurance (whether to the other party or myself, I'm not sure) that while my diet may be different "I'm not an animal rights activist or anything."

I think back on those conversations now after 3 years of being vegan and ask myself. Why wasn't I one?
I believe like many in today's society, that I had this negative image of what an animal rights activist was.  An "extreme", militant, angry individual that lived only to make others feel guilty for wearing fur and eating the typical American diet. Translation: lots of meat.

I didn't ridicule them, I just didn't want to be associated with those people.  I was rational.  I was a vegetarian. Because as far as for health and disease prevention, it was best way to eat.

Well, fast forward a few years and I guess some might indeed think of  me as one of those people.
Am I protesting out in front of medical (animal experimentation) labs?  Have I joined PETA(People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)  in such campaigns as going naked and doing anything to get attention to the plight of animal abuse?  No. Those are far from activities that I would feel comfortable taking part in.

No, I'm the mellow, some might say more devious version of an animal rights activist.  If we go out to dinner and you order a steak I'm not going to judge you.(at least not to your face! ha ha)   When you wax on about how delicious your last meal of wild salmon was, I'll politely listen without so much as a peep.
 And while I don't allow meat in my home, I will not  try to stop a friend from eating it in any other setting.

But I know what I know, and I'm more than happy to share that knowledge with anyone that will listen, or read as the case my be.. What I've seen, simply cannot be unseen.

So how am I an activist? How do I do my part to fight against the injustices of animal abuse and torture?
My weapon of choice is the knife.  And the iron skillet. The muffin pan. The food processor.  The blender. And anything else I can get my hands on in my kitchen to entice to those willing to open their minds(and taste buds) to the idea that delicious culinary delights are indeed possible with the use of the abundance of plant foods that God has provided on this Earth.

Now I can imagine what many of  my fellow Christians are saying right now. "Excuse me, but the scriptures say that we can eat meat. It's our duty. We've been given dominion! Remember Peter's vision? Don't you read your Bible?"

Yes, I've read the verses that seem to give us cart blanche' to "rise, kill and eat".
I've also read the parts of scripture where God's people were given permission to consume certain beetles.
Now, why have I never in all my years as a Christian heard that sermon?  Why don't we hear pastors drool expectantly for their after church BBQ featuring a big, fat, juicy BUG along side the potato salad?

To be continued..