Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Living in a Vegan World - in my head, that is!

I'm one of those people who sometimes lives in my own Happy Vegan World - in my head, that is. It's a great place to be, and you're invited to visit anytime. For instance, when I'm eating in a non-vegetarian restaurant and I hear people order "chicken," for a moment my brain assumes they're ordering vegetarian "chicken" because my point of reference for "chicken" is a live, friendly, cooing bird - and why would anyone order that in a restaurant!? Sometimes it's fun living in this world, because I get to pretend - if only for a moment - that everyone sees things as I do. But it doesn't last. I'm quickly reminded that the "chicken" on that restaurant menu doesn't come close to resembling the birds who once lived - complete with feathers and a brain and a desire to live. The pain of that reminder is often very acute (and is the reason I tend to eat primarily in vegetarian restaurants)!

I've said this before, and I will say it again: I didn't always see the world this way. I didn't always wince when I saw someone gnawing on a chicken's leg or on a pig's rib cage, because I, too, ate those things at one time. That's the beauty of being human, isn't it? Having new perspectives, trying new experiences, creating new habits. And goodness knows humans love their habits! (Some might even say we're stubborn. I'll just say we're steadfast and leave it at that.)

The truth behind humans' exploitation of animals is so hidden, disguised, ritualized, and rationalized that we're encouraged not to think about it at all. It's like we're all walking around in a dream - a dream that provides sustenance, comfort, and the very foundation on which we build our lives. The risk of waking up and having everything turned upside down is too great - so great that we're taught not to use such words as slaughter, dead, corpse, carcass, flesh or refer to hamburgers as "calves," bacon as "pigs," or even chicken as "chickens." We're taught that animals are made for us, that they sacrifice their lives for us, that if they lead relatively happy lives (the 1% that do) there's nothing wrong with killing them.

I once heard a father playing a "question and answer" game with his daughter. She was to think of an animal, and he was supposed to ask questions until he was able to guess what animal she was thinking of. After a series of questions whose answers gave him clues, he asked if it was red. She said it was. The father said he knew the answer! It was a lobster! She very excitedly answered "YES! You guessed right!" And I thought - a lobster?? Red? I wanted to shout: "Lobsters aren't red! It's only when they're cooked that the red pigment in their shell comes out. Lobsters aren't red!" But I didn't shout - or say anything at all, because I would have been pegged a trouble maker, an upstart, a radical. I didn't speak up, and do you know I regret it to this day? It seems like a small thing, but a voice is a terrible thing to waste - especially when you're speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves. I watched sadly as that little girl was fed lobster flesh (oops! I said that word) and was inured to any pain that animal endured while being boiled alive...

...And I longed to retreat to the place in my head...to my Happy Vegan World, where "chicken" is vegetarian, where all fur is faux, and where people don't assume all "milk" is from cows. It's nice living in this happy place, if only for a moment. I encourage you to visit once in awhile; that is, until we all awaken from our dream and live here for good.

No comments:

Post a Comment