The above image is what most of us would like to think is how most cows live. Unfortunately, it’s not.
I spent most of my afternoon watching different videos for my Animal Protection class, and one of them was the 2005 film, Earthlings, which you can watch for free by clicking here. (I must warn you, the film has graphic images. The first link goes to the Wikipedia description.) If you watch it, I can guarantee you will be changed as a person. I cannot believe what some humans are capable of doing to another living creature. I really can’t.
Now, I know that telling people all the things that they are doing wrong will just result in their tuning you out. So I’m not going to do that. But I will say that it caused me to rethink the cavalier way that I sometimes react when I really want a cookie and it might have been made with eggs. “Oh, it’s vegan today!” I sometimes say. Crunch, crunch.
Well, no more. The images from that movie are seared into my brain.
Chickens crammed into cages so tightly they can’t even move or stretch out their wings. Dairy cows unable to move from their milking area all day long, pumped full with antibiotics and pesticides so that they will produce more milk, having had their babies ripped away from them on the very first day of their lives. The slaughter scenes are what really did me in, as I knew they would. (I’d already known what happens in those buildings but seeing it again is something else.)
Another thing. In the past, I thought I could be in a relationship with someone even if they ate meat. I don’t think that I could do that, going forward. If I were dating someone, and they sat down across from me at the table and started to eat a raw steak, I think it would be nearly impossible to not imagine a cow being slaughtered and the immense pain it suffers from how it’s treated. I would hear its cries as my partner munched away. And I really don’t think I can do that again.
I choose to no longer be a speciest.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, speciesm is defined as the following:
Definition of speciesism
1: prejudice or discrimination based on species; especially: discrimination against animals
2: the assumption of human superiority on which speciesism is based
When I was eating meat and using dairy, I was being a speciest without even knowing it. I was raised to think that eating meat (even veal) was just something everyone did. Animals were put on this earth to make our lives easier.
I’m not condemning others who eat meat. But I do think that more people should step out of their comfort zones, and open their eyes to the suffering that goes on every day with so many thousands of animals who are raised for purposes of our food, clothing, entertainment and scientific research. I no longer accept the phrase “Yeah, I’m good. I don’t want to know,” as being a valid excuse. In this day and age, we have so much information at our fingertips.
It may sound like I might be going to too much of an extreme in saying I can’t be with someone who eats meat. However, I realized today, watching that movie and holding Snuggles closely to me, my animals are all I need. I don’t need a romantic relationship in my life to make me feel complete. A few very good friends, located near or far, are enough for me.
A line in the film really stuck with me.
Humans are the one species on this earth that inflict pain just to inflict pain. No other species does that.
Animals may inflict pain on one another but it’s for survival reasons. The predator kills and eats his/her prey.
Humans have so many other choices for food and clothes. We don’t need to kill an animal just so we can have the newest “cute” handbag or “sexy” boots or softest fur coat. We have so many other options. The only vitamin a vegan needs to take in order to supplement their diet is B12. The rest can come from foods that don’t include dairy or meat.
I will add links to some of the other videos I watched to my animal rights page of this blog in the near future.
If you’d like to leave a comment below, please do so. If someone else’s comment goes against what you believe in or think, please respond in an above-board way. A healthy exchange of ideas is best.
As of today, the plural of stuff is stuffs! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂
I had a conversation on Facebook over the weekend with someone who was in the first class of law students with whom I worked as a professional law librarian, while at Boston University Law School. That was a long 12 years ago, but he still remembers me and when I was typing back and forth with him, I could still hear that accent of his and see his big smile on his face. I remember thinking back then that he was so, so, so incredibly smart, and how in the world did I think I could help someone like him?!
Anyway, the point of this walk down my memory lane is this – he reminded me of how much I enjoyed teaching others and teaching them to teach themselves how to do things. How sometimes when a patron would come up to me, completely lost and not exactly know what they were looking for, and sometimes it was a subject I didn’t know much about myself, how I would fumble through with them until we’d finally hit on some piece of knowledge or thought and then we’d both run with it! (Not all interactions were like this, of course, but it was these types that made me glad to do my job.) He told me that I was so devoted to helping them learn, and a few other nice things, and said he thought it had been the opinion of many of his classmates as well. He also told me that time and kindness are two of the most precious resources you can give. I certainly gave them a lot of my time, and especially in the beginning of my career as a librarian, when I was learning so much myself every day, I remember thinking to myself how confused the foreign students must be, and how different it all must seem to them to learn about this whole other country’s set of laws. And how scary it can seem. So if they saw my manner towards them as kind, well, I am glad, because I wanted to treat them the same way I would have wanted to be treated if in their shoes.
One thing I don’t get to do much of these days is teach people. Also, because it’s a for-profit business, sometimes, I feel like I have to really hold my tongue from expressing my opinions to customers, such as on issues of declawing cats, docking tails or ears of dogs such as Doberman’s, breeding in general, and failing to spay/neuter your pets. Sometimes, I just want to scream at people, “What are you?? Stupid??!! Don’t you know all the various health issues with not spaying or neutering? And do you really think the world needs MORE unwanted animals? WHY in the hell are you going to a breeder when the shelters are FULL of homeless pets?!” (Anybody who works in animal issues that says that they never say these things or even think them to themselves is lying, trust me.) I also see the animals that come in that are being fostered after being removed from bad situations. It sickens me. Days like that, you catch yourself saying things like “I hate people” to yourself or under your breath.
However, there was one random day that a lady came in and asked about where she could get a German Shepherd dog, and we started talking. The librarian in me took over, and before I knew it, I had turned the computer monitor towards her and started showing her how to do some searches on sites like Petfinder.com, how to navigate the ABQ city website, and started asking her some more questions about what it was she was really looking for in a dog. As with some of my favorite interactions at the reference desk in the past, she took out a pen and paper and started writing stuff down so she could look on her own later on.
I’ve been doing some soul searching and thinking about what it is that makes me tick. What kind of movies or videos I like to watch, or podcasts I like to listen to, or blog posts I like to read, and then share with others because I find them inspiring. I have tried to figure out a common thread between them. In the past, I wrote this post about the movie called Opening Our Eyes. I think I need to go back and watch the movie again. I also wrote this post about the movie, I’m Fine, Thanksin which the filmmaker travels around the country and interviews people who want to make a change in their life, and then DO IT.
I may have talked about this on the blog before, and I thought about applying in the past, but of course, the issue of money is one that has stopped me from applying. But I’m starting to really feel this pull inside like this is the right thing to do. There is a Master’s degree program in Humane Education offered by the Institute for Humane Education. The degree is taught online and has a week long residency requirement in a beautiful part of Maine, not far from Acadia National Park. The program is accredited through Valapraiso University, and the program I would look to finish is a Masters in Arts in Humane Education, because if I’m going to educate, I would rather it be outside of a traditional classroom, and have it be through my daily work, either with a non-profit, or a civic engagement, or an animal shelter, etc. (They describe the MA in Humane Education as “designed for educators who wish to work outside of school settings, such as through community work, non-profits, arts activism, social services, law, and many other professions.“) I like the idea of being able to use the education in many fields.
Part of the program involves a master’s thesis. It can be creative, professional, and/or research-based. All of those sound right up my alley. If I could find a way to marry research with a realistic plan of how to bring my ideas into reality, I will feel successful. And hey, maybe it could even become that book I have been wanting to publish. 🙂
I am grateful to have friends to bounce these ideas off of. I swear to God, my friend Dan is kind of my grandmother reincarnated in the way that he kindly asks me probing questions to get me to think, and he reminds me that I’m always “go, go, GO!!” when I set my mind to something. He wants me to sit back and breathe and really think about things, and for that, I love him to death. I need someone like that in my life. Especially when I’m 44 and considering putting yet even more money into education without the 100% guarantee it will get me a job that will pay that tuition money back, and again, I’m 44! Putting myself through school again? Didn’t I just consider this with the vet tech program at CNM? These are all questions I really need to think about.
Dan has asked me to think about why I would want to do such a program, and here is my long-winded answer. Many of you who have read my blog for a long time, or who were gluttons for punishment, and decided to go back to the beginning and start and catch yourselves up (and I LOVE all of you!), know that I have these big dreams, or big ideas, and I want to do so much, both in every ordinary day of my life, and with my life as a whole! But one of the problems I know I suffer from is being able to focus. I can be like a raccoon that you throw something shiny in front of, and I’m already distracted.
My point is this:I need the structure and guidance of someone else who has felt the same way and knows how to narrow down the wish list, how to take all the grandiose ideas and ACTUALLY put them into concrete action. And I want to meet with others, both virtually, and in person, through the online class tools and at a practicum where I live, who feel the same way, who I can be made accountable to, and who can encourage me when I get discouraged along the way. And I can learn how to integrate some of my ideas, because really, a lot of my concerns are interconnected: animal protection, environmental protection, etc. You can’t really look at things in a vacuum anymore. I look back at these earlier posts of mine and know now that figuring out how to focus my energies and integrate my ideas, has been my problem.
I also want to be like some of the students you see profiled on this page. Some of the students who really caught my eye were involved in issues related to animals:
When I die, I don’t need to have been known for winning a Nobel Prize or having been someone like Bill Gates, or Mother Theresa. I just want to have left this world in a little bit better place than it was when I entered it, and for some people to think of me and think “You know? Terri was all right. She did some good stuffs!”
What kind of good stuffs have you seen being done around you or do you want to achieve in your life?