I live in Vermont, so I have many happy memories of driving through my rural town and seeing our famous cows. Even now when I've driving down the highway and look out my window I have the privilege of seeing lush, green fields with happy, peaceful cows grazing in the bright sunshine. It really is an idealistic, wish-you-were-here postcard, poetry inspiring scene. Just to think that a month ago, when I was only vegetarian, I could look out at this and feel responsible for the serenity in their beautiful brown eyes.
The day before I became vegan, I was thinking about everything I had read about veganism...and my vegan friend's answer to "why are you vegan?" Her words echoed in my head - "I don't feel that animals should be exploited for my personal gain." As I sat in the car, looking out the window...all I could think was...those cows are living and breathing, I wondered if anyone else appreciated their lives. I wondered if the tourists who are always so fond of taking their pictures stop to buy hamburgers on the way to their hotels. The cows they make over now are going to wind up on their dinner plates eventually. Is that right?
And then came the moment of my breakthrough - I was looking in at a field of dairy cows. Gazing up the field I could see a large barn. And what happens in there that I'm supporting? Those cows who have just been torn away from their children have to go through what in that dismal place? Cows are not machines. Just like humans, you can see into their souls by simply looking into those large brown eyes. What just cause is there to inflict pain and sadness, grief and hopelessness on these animals? They were not born to be pumped dry and killed...
they were born to live
All those weeks of being a faithful vegetarian I had been blind...I thought by not eating meat and buying organic milk I was reducing animal suffering to the best of my ability. Right now, a few weeks into my new lifestyle, I still feel groggy - it's surprising how long I had been sleeping...for the past fifteen years, really.
The cows who produced my organic milk or parm. cheese are surely dead now - maybe I've already seen them, sandwiched between bread for someone's dinner...the leather on the sandals I wanted for so long (and now am ashamed I own)...it devastates me to think I had a hand in such suffering without even knowing it!
But I can't think that way --- I should be proud I learned so much so quickly, and that because I learned so young that I will save many lives. I hope that those animals who suffered and died for me have forgiven me, because I promise I'll redeem myself.