Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
Dear AR Zone,
I am a brand new member, and am pleased to be here. When I saw that you offered a forum for discussions, I jumped at the chance to express myself, always wondering where I could find such an opportunity!
I became a vegan three years ago. It happened in an instant, after having seen "Earthlings" on YouTube. The video shocked and sickened me as I watched in horror and thought about all those 65 years of my life when I was ignorant of and complicit in the cruel industry and daily ingestion of living beings.
Sadly enough, I am the only vegan in my entire family, as well as among all my friends. No matter what, I have not been able to move anyone in my direction. Having tried all means of communication (and never badgering or being argumentative or accusatory), none has produced results. Oftentimes I feel depressed that no one seems to care about the injustice, contempt, and unnecessary pain and suffering that we inflict upon our fellow animals, even when they learn about it! It still stuns me, and makes me feel, "So much for the glass walls theory."
Now I have 2 very young grandchildren (4 years and 1 year old), and want, desperately, for them to become conscious, aware and respectful of the animals' right to live their lives free from our oppressive hands.
I got my 4 year-old grandson the book, "This Moose Belongs to Me," which teaches how animals can never belong to people (even though we think they can), because they are living, sentient beings with their own inherent value, entitled to live their own lives as they were meant to (Can you recommend any other such books?). I also drop other gentle hints during play (i.e. not wanting to play a "let's go fishing" game), but feel that I have to be very careful so as not to cause possible consternation in his parents, should he (and eventually she) tell them one day that he (and eventually she) doesn't want to eat animals anymore.
At the same time, I don't want to watch yet another two humans being created with the same consciousness gap that plagued me for so long, as it still does for most of the world.
And so, here I am.
Welcome to ARZone! Congratulations on becoming vegan, and thanks for sharing your thoughts and concerns with us!
I think a lot of vegans share your concerns, particularly in regard to our families and the difficulties we almost all face in trying to help them to feel the way we do about the horrors that are occurring in the world to other animals. I used to find it shocking that when I told others the truth, they didn't instantly see things the way I did. It makes perfect sense to me, why didn't it to others? It seems that those closest to us are the least likely to take on board what we have to say though.
I'm not sure if you're familiar with ARZone podcasts, but they can be found here [http://arzone.ning.com/page/podcasts] and there's one I recommend that covers this topic with Colleen Patrick Goudreau: http://arzone.ning.com/forum/topics/arzone-podcast-66-colleen-patri... Colleen speaks about how we bring baggage to any discussion we have with those closest to us, and that seems to give them reason to ignore or disregard what we're saying in some ways. It may be helpful in understanding that what you're feeling is felt by most other vegans as well at some time. I don't think there are any easy answers, but it's helpful to know that we're not alone! :)
There are also two excellent vegan children's book authors that I highly recommend. Ruby Roth and Gypsy Wulff. Both also have spoken with us in ARZone podcasts about their work, what inspires and motivates them and how we can help children learn kindness and compassion. They both write for very young children and I highly recommend their work. Ruby has spoken with us twice, and I'll link to both of her interviews below. She has written 3 children's books - the most recent one for very young children, and they're excellent. Gypsy's books are also amazing, and written with love and kindness. I hope you and your grandchildren might find them useful. Please feel free to ask any questions of either Ruby or Gypsy that I'd be very happy to pass on!
Ruby's 2012 Podcast
Ruby's 2013 Podcast
Gypsy's 2013 Podcast
Carolyn has just sent me your post. I'd be happy to provide some further information and resources directly to you through my website if you'd like to use them with your grandchildren. Ruby's Books are really great for young children. They are honest and clear and age appropriate. The ones I have written have activity books with them so that children can engage in thoughtful exercises. Another site which is superb for teaching young children is one run by Jodi Buckley, "Animilia. I'm happy to send links to all these resources if you are interested in pursuing them. My email contact is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ditto what Carolyn said on going vegan.
My partner has a 3yo, and whilst it isn't the same as grandchildren, my suggestion is to be honest with the children. We explain to the little one why we don't consume animal products, etc.
It also helps that there is a farm animal rescue sanctuary that we attend regularily so the little one is able to put a 'personality' to those animals that people normally consume for food.
If it is possible for you to do the same, if there is one in your area, it may help with the grandkids and stop them from losing that compassion that kids normally have.
Hope that helps.
I believe that what's most important to be mindful of is that since you became vegan after a lifetime of being non-vegan, whatever your grandchildren do at their young ages, they will grow, change, and find the path that is best for them in this world. It's a long road and there is time enough to travel.
Dear Carolyn, Gypsy, Cameron, and Tim,
Thank you, so much, for your thoughtful, kind and informative emails! It feels so good to communicate with people who understand. Being the only vegan among a plethora of carnists (see Melanie Joy) can be a lonely existence at times.
Carolyn, yes, absolutely, I am familiar with your Podcasts and always have them on as I work at my computer. They are wonderful, and greatly informative. I don't know what I would do without the ARZ Podcasts and the various AR Web sites and videos that are on the Internet, which is also why I have so much respect for people who have been vegans for decades, as they did not have the resources then that we have today. I will listen to Colleen P G's link that you sent, as well as the ones on Ruby's interviews. And many thanks for introducing me to Ruby Roth's and Gypsy Wulff's books - yet another resource that I will take full advantage of. Thank you for your input, your hard work, your caring, and your terrific podcasts.
Gypsy, Thank you, too, for your kind response and for letting me know about Jodi Buckley's "Animilia" Web site. I will certainly look her up, as I will your and Ruby's books. And yes, please do send any links that you can! I will email this to you, as well.
Cameron, you were so kind to provide your input. I do tell my grandson that I don't consume any animal products (as has his mother, my daughter). His response: "I know Nani. You should try it some time!" So, while he knows that I don't eat (or wear, etc.) any animal products, I haven't told him the reason yet. That's the rub. I'll have to think of a way of explaining it to him without creating fear and horror in his impressionable mind. Perhaps some of the resources that I have received here will help. Unfortunately, there are no farm sanctuaries where I live. How I wish there were.
Tim, thank you, too for your thoughtful response. I really appreciate it. What I want to try and do is to prevent that wonderful connection that my grandchildren have to animals (as do all children) from being slowly chipped away as he grows. Already, my grandson is not making the connection between all his animal teddy bear friends and the many books that he has (all with animal characters) and a hamburger (I'm sure he doesn't even know yet that a hamburger comes from a cow.) And I don't think it will happen on its own (especially with carnist parents, one being my daughter). I believe that it takes an effort to keep that connection alive. I don't want him (or my granddaughter) to be like me, and find out, in their old age, how unconscious and disconnected they were for all the years they lived. I want to be able to bestow upon them the benefit of my knowledge.
Well, I've certainly gone on! So sorry to chew your ears off. But please know that I will take full advantage of, and appreciate greatly, your thoughts and contributions. And please do send me any links or such that you may have!
Carolyn - one last thing. On one of your earlier Podcasts, one your regular participants said something that rang so true for its wisdom and truth. He said to the effect, "We don't think the way we do because of what we see; we see what we see because of the way we think." Brilliant.
Thank you for your very kind words! I'm really glad that you find our podcasts useful! :)
I agree with you that the quote you mentioned is brilliant. That was Tim, my amazing co-host who said that. He's full of brilliance and wisdom!
We'll be publishing a new podcast this week, Jean, with two sociologists from the UK we spoke with about how advertising and tie-in toys such that are sold at Burger King etc are used to distance children from the connection between the individuals they eat, and those they view as their friends. It might be useful in regard to the ways that your grandchildren are learning to accept the difference between different "sets" of other animals. The guests are Kate Stewart and Matthew Cole, and I think it's a really interesting discussion.
Once again, great thanks, Carolyn. I will tune in to this week's podcast. It sounds very interesting and pertinent to the problem that I'm trying to deal with. Thanks to your website, I feel as if I now have so much more to work with!
Volentia.com can also be good for finding the answers to problems such as these.
Thank you so much, animalwelfareeduc. I will certainly look up Volentia.com. I'm so grateful for everyone's input, and will take full advantage of everyone's suggestions.
Volentia.com can also be good for finding the answers to problems such as these.
Carolyn and Tim, I listen to podcast #63 - Melanie Joy on carnism and her Truth to Power essay - over and over again. She is so inspiring, with her positive attitude towards the future of veganism, world-wide, and how it will become the greatest social justice movement in human history. It gives me much-needed hope. I always believed it in my heart, but never heard it voiced by such a respected and ingenious member of the movement as is Dr. Joy. I have always maintained that at some time in the future - I don't know when - humans will look back in horror at the way we treated our fellow animals, and the act of having eaten them will appear barbaric. It will feel repulsive, as if we had engaged in cannibalism - which it actually is, to my mind. What plagues me is how I could have been so utterly blind and stupid for all those years I lived. I always loved animals, yet I failed to make the connection between the living, sentient being and the end-product on my plate! It's frightening. That giant Gap. And it makes me ask myself, What else is there in life that I must be so blind to? So much to learn and so little time.
I forgot to mention how wonderful Ruby Roth and Gypsy Wulff's podcasts are. I learned so much, and will look up their books and Web sites. I try to listen to my favorites a few times each, so that I can assimilate the valuable messages through osmosis! Once again, great, great thanks for ARZone.
I'm really grateful for your kind words, Jean, and very happy that you enjoyed the podcast discussions!
I agree with you about Melanie; she's one of the really genuine advocates who sincerely works for and on behalf of other animals. She's given her work and her advocacy enormous thought, and I admire and respect her very much. She spoke with us in a podcast prior to that one as well, about some very interesting topics in regard to the animal advocacy community and how many advocates treat each other and some of the ways we might improve on that. Tim and I both thought this was a really important discussion to have, and found Melanie's perspectives very insightful and useful. [http://arzone.ning.com/forum/topics/arzone-podcast-52-dr-melanie-jo...]