A dear relative, whom I love and respect with all my heart, advised me to train my 5-year-old not to call out people on eating animals.
He brought up one occasion when family offered my daughter some chicken and she declined, saying, “You should not eat animals!”
I said I wouldn’t shut her up because she was speaking the truth.
YouTube is awash with vids of kids refusing to eat chicken nuggets once they’ve made the connection that animals were being served as food. Yet, adults insist on doing “baby steps” in their “personal journey” to eating less meat.
“But she will be hated!” he argued. “It’s being holier-than-thou, like overbearing preachers of religion. She will turn people off!”
“She may,” I agreed. “But some will reflect on that truth.”
Some will be put off, but there will be those who will shed their egos and open their hearts and minds to reality. Because there is no time.
The relative talked about how COVID-19 may have come from a lab, and I said that while highly unlikely, even if it did, it’s indisputable that all other pandemics and coronaviruses have come from forcing animals to be in places they didn’t want to be in. He talked about (US) Democrats and Republicans and how he doesn’t believe the world would end by 2050. I said coronaviruses and climate change don’t care about political affiliations and aren’t partisan like religion and that whether or not the world would end by 2050 is up to us, really.
“Look at us now,” I said. “We are talking in masks!” It didn’t matter what we believed in. What mattered is what we ate.
Scientists did predict COVID-19 would come but even they admit that politicians wouldn’t have listened to them anyway because “highly likely pandemics” just aren’t top-of-the-list enough. Prepping for something not 100-percent sure is just not urgent or important enough. Too alarmist.
While we’re still myopic about getting our hands on the vaccine for COVID-19, what are we doing to protect or prepare ourselves for the next pandemics to come? Are we really just going to keep relying on vaccines or can we finally give prevention a real try? By prevention, I mean stop breeding animals for consumption, or to sell as pets, or to test stuff on.
Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg turned a lot of people off. Yet, a lot of politicians also wanted to hitch their bandwagons on to her. But she has famously refused to work with people who were not “radical enough.” One could easily allude that to youthful arrogance, but many also admire her for doing the right thing. Adults have to hem and haw and think about how any decision or stand they take would impact others’ view of them. While some criticize her for being “just an angry vegan,” she inspired others to do something about climate change, starting with what we put on our plates.
I admit it took me a while to make the shift, despite all the books, articles, summits and documentaries I’ve consumed. Meanwhile, all it took for my brother JC was watching “The Game Changers,” and he turned vegan overnight. People have different reasons for going vegan: for health, the planet or the animals. But ultimately, we realize it’s all interconnected; that veganism isn’t an avoidance of calories or a mere diet but an avoidance of violence.
What did you do when you learned the truth about eating animals? About the systemic oppression and murder of innocent beings? Did you take a stand for them or did you just shrug and say “it is what it is?”
Once you know, you can no longer unsee. What you decide to do next is crucial: Do you continue to eat them, wear them, use them? Looking the other way is a decision, too. I realized I couldn’t swallow someone’s suffering and enjoy it any longer.
So I will not silence my daughter. Silencing the truth would be destroying her character and standing with the abuse and oppression of beings entrusted to us. Telling her to “just be silent” is how you allow Harvey Weinsteins to exist and even thrive. It’s tantamount to saying it’s OK to let the powerful take advantage of you, or to prize being socially comfortable over being socially responsible.
Neither will I censor my 10-year-old son. He finds every chance he gets in his subjects, whether building a character in Language, modeling environmental responsibility in Science, or showing examples of compassion in Christian Living, to talk about why we should not eat animals or to choose to be cruelty-free.
I want to encourage their bravery, to take a stand now, than teach them to “just be easy, eat anything.” Yes, there are less uncomfortable ways to make people stop using animals, but my kids will find their footing. They will know what works.
If we do fail, and the world does get worse, when my children ask me what I did about it, I can look them in the eye and say I used whatever platform I had, every encounter with someone, every morsel I ate or shared with others since I found out the truth about eating animals. I did not shove it down throats from a moral high ground; I screamed it out to anyone who cared to listen.
If we want to heal as one, we have to start with what we eat. Go vegan starting this January. —CONTRIBUTED