Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Open mouth, insert foot: confessions, justifications and apologies from an animal lover.

Would you adopt me even if I didn't have a pedigree?

Okay, I will confess. Since becoming vegan, I have become more judgmental and less forgiving. Sometimes I’ll be cold if you say something I find insensitive that pisses me off more than before. With all my how-dare-you’s, I’ve had to do a lot of I’m-sorry’s. I know, blowing up at people is the best thing to get you to the vegan side! But hear me out loud please.

Before I became vegetarian in October 2007, I lived in a man-centric world where everything was meant for our pleasure. Food made from cow reproductive secretions? Yum! Skinned lambs on our backs? Bring it on. Mascara tested on bunny eyes? As long as it makes me look like I actually have eyelashes, I’ll buy it. And yes, I used to not like animals. I’ve had pet chicks and a rabbit which I bought from a school fair. Yes they all died.

I lived in a world so convenient for me, I was like Neo before he found out about the Matrix. Ignorance was indeed bliss. And then through some careful research, the veil was lifted, my paradigm shifted, and I learned all the shit happening to animals everywhere. It was pure torture. Heart ache. I’d cry watching the undercover videos. I couldn’t handle the truth, partly because it went against everything I was taught in life. Sometimes I wish I would go back to my pre-vegan days for the convenience thing. It sure was a lot easier when I didn't have to check if the bread I was buying contained whey and that the cute winter coat had no wool.

And then I think of myself (haha, still on the [wo]man-centric thing). Would I want to live in a cage my whole life, have all sorts of crap put in my eyes just to make sure someone else wouldn’t suffer what I had to suffer? Or, how would I feel being raped and impregnated over and over again, just to have my baby ripped from my arms and having machines suck my nipples to get my milk to “more deserving” people? For those who didn’t know, cows have to be pregnant and give birth in order to be milked. I can’t imagine it and I’d hate those lives. I’d surely kill myself before being killed.

I will always remember April 30 as the day Lucky came into my life. He’s my first cat and despite his I’m-too-cool-to-pay-attention-to-you attitude, I love him and my other 2 cats, all rescues, to death. Some people (namely my family) think I’m crazy because I hug them and kiss them and yes, talk to them. Everyday. I will brave dengue-carrying mosquitoes to go to their cat house to scoop out the poop from their litter (sadly my cats no longer live in my home as my mom is convinced my youngest brother is “allergic” to them). I will even weather a storm to bring towels to them in the middle of the night to make sure they’re warm. One of them needs antibiotics? I’ll give it in a syringe and say that “you’re such a brave, brave cat.”

That’s just the tip of my iceberg craziness, people. When Lucky was 2-3 weeks old my dad stepped on him (yes Pop, you’ll never hear the end of it!) and he looked like a mangled pirate kitten. His legs were broken. He could not poop on his own (actually, all kittens need help in the crapper). It was summer and my 3 younger brothers and I took turns monitoring him 24 hours a day. My shift was between 5am and 7am. One morning I was massaging his butt with a moist cotton ball to try to coax the poop out. He ended up squirting shit on my hand, and some on my shirt. And here was this one-eye-swollen-shut kitty struggling to get away from me and my poopy hands with his useless legs, and all I could do was laugh and clean up. What fun cats bring, and I'm not even being sarcastic.

Believe it or not, animals can bring us humans a lot of joy. In fact, you don’t need to be vegan to learn this truth. If you’ve got a pet at home, and I’m assuming you’re a pretty loving owner, you know what I’m talking about. Pets don’t care if you’re getting fat or your hair’s seen better days. Even if you accidentally forget to leave them food in the morning, they. Will. Always. Come. Back. To. You. Because yup, sure we’re taught they aren’t rational beings, but how can irrational beings have unconditional love for us? Here’s another question: how is a purebred cat any different from a cat from the street, other than its color?

So what am I getting to? I’ve been vegan for almost 2 years and yes, aside from the food and no-leather, no-stuff-experimented-on-animals thing, I have changed. Knowing what I know now, I’d like to think I’ve changed for the better. Yes, I am the crazy vegan lady who is often insensitive and is almost always the party pooper when it comes to “I love foie gras!”, “I want a labradoodle!”, "I just want my cat to experience the joy of kitten birth!" exclamations. Yes, if you ask me “If you’re stuck on a desert island with a lion, would you eat it?”, maybe I will eat YOU. And we’ve ALL heard about the vegetables-scream-when-you-eat-them joke, harharhar. We’ve never heard THAT one before. Or how about, “If you’re so much against animals being abused, why do you have cats and why don’t you let them roam free?”

It’s been more difficult for me to be more patient, because sometimes I forget that people don’t know or don’t want to know the truth about the plight of abused farm animals, pet overpopulation caused by our breeding of dogs and cats, horrors of vivisection, what goes on in a fur farm and egg farm, etc etc. Which is why, a lot of the times my responses to animal-related questions may sound condescending, bitchy, and downright icy enough to make you sound like the enemy. Which is why I would like to sincerely apologize to readers of this blog who I may have accidentally alienated with my answers regarding your questions related to animals and animal rights. Maybe you were just really curious and didn’t mean any harm. Sorry guys.

I’d just like to make a point though, with regards to pets. Yes I have my cats and I am not against having pets. I have them partly for selfish reasons, partly because the other option was for them to become road kill, and partly as a symbolic promise to all animals that I will help them in any capacity that I can.

I am, however, against the purchase of animals for pets and am fully supportive of adoption. Our country, no this world, is TEEMING with millions of dogs and cats who just want a home and a loving human companion. These guys didn’t just pop out of nowhere, we bred them into existence. They’re not coyotes and tigers, they are animals domesticated by us over hundreds of thousands of years. And then when we feel too tired to take care of them, we let them “go free”. Or, sometimes we just chain them up and forget to feed them, whatever floats our boat. Sometimes we’ll shout at them when they piss on themselves because we’re too busy to take them out to exercise and do their toilet business. We complain when our female cats get pregnant because, who wants to take care of kittens? Let’s not spay her, oh no that’s too expensive. Let’s just stick her babies in plastic bags and drown them. We also looove to rant about all the street dogs and cats that populate our communities, and sometimes, we secretly love to run over the slow ones who don’t manage to run across the road as we step on the gas. Maybe if you had an opportunity, you’d shoot that tomcat that just loves to stroll around your garden. Who gives a shit, right? They’re not humans.

So next time I answer really snarkily, I’m really sorry and I hope you’ll forgive me. Please remember that I don’t meant to attack you, I’m just thinking of all the poor animals out there that are abused and unloved. Sometimes I forget to think before I talk, I end up being an ass and I stick my foot in my mouth. No hard feelings, okay?

To readers out there – I’d like to ask you a question. Do you often find yourself short tempered when it comes to asinine-sounding questions? How do you manage your temper and your mouth? To the vegetarians and vegans out there, how do you deal with your pent-up emotions about the animals, and how do you make sure you don’t come out as the crazy vegan?

Would you want my life?


The Voracious Vegan said...

Such a beautiful, honest, powerful post. Thank you for sharing. Yes, I am often frustrated with the ridiculous questions and comments: "But where do you get your protein?" "But animals taste so good!" etc

I just remember that the animals have no voice, and during this interaction with this annoying omnivore or vegetarian, I need to be the best animal advocate I can be. This means NOT backing down and letting the subject drop, but also being friendly and engaging to make sure that the person will listen with an open mind. It is *really* hard, but I try my best.

Mary said...

I agree completely. I have been a vegetarian for two years, and I have been working on becoming vegan. I get really sick of the stupid jokes and people ranting on me for not eating meat. People I just meet go off about how dumb I am for being vegetarian. OKAY I am not forcing you to give up anything just by my being vegetarian.
We live in a world full of idiots. I also feel like I have come to be less forgiving and far more judgmental. People who KNOW and UNDERSTAND what is going on with the animals in this world, yet they stand by and feed into it by buying that puppy store dog or whatever, infuriate me.
I also WISH I could start up a Farm sancutary one day. It is ultimately my goal in life. I am going to school now to be a pharmacist...just so that I will have enough money to be able to perhaps do something like that.

Haha, obviously your post got me going. I just want you to know that I feel the same as you about everything you said.


Kathleen said...

Mary, I have to take issue with your 'puppy store dog' comment. No offense to you, just consider this. I bought a west highland white terrier puppy in a store here in Madrid, Spain, where I live. (I am a California transplant who knows this breed VERY well...). I was thrilled to buy her in order to save her from an uncertain fate, i.e. with people who could not possibly love her and take care of her the way I could. It's convenient to say that if people continue to buy puppies from pet stores (and this one was nice, clean, etc...) that they are contributing to the problem, BUT, I don't believe this. The almighty dollar/euro is the problem. The dogs are going to continue to be bred as long as money exists. More people would be compelled to become 'vegan' if we A: stop using the vegan term, which is retarded and stupid....better to say 'plant-based diet' and B. stop vegans from becoming so precious and self-aggrandizing in their beautiful way of eating. I am vegan and have inspired people to think about it because I don't shove it down their throats.

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