The short of it……. I watched some films, then met some ‘farm’ animals and I went vegan in what seemed like overnight.
The medium of it….oh boy, got a few minutes?
Well who really can say where it began? Was it that I always had a cat or dog or both in our family from the time I was born until now?
It could have started at the Ringling Brothers Circus my mom took me to as a little kid. I instantly felt uncomfortable. They started to whip the animals to perform, and I started to cry. Even though my mom reassured me that the animals were alright, my sobbing continued. She took me out, never to return to a circus again.
Perhaps it was the orca in San Diego I saw as a teenager perform with his humped over fin. I remember asking the usher why the orca’s fin was like that. She told me, "that was normal and it happens." Well, I certainly know today that was a blatant lie to my face. I decided to sneak down under the stadium to take a look at the orca. Through the glass I watched him swim up to me. Our eyes met, and I knew in my heart he was not ok. There was this overwhelming sadness conveyed to me by this gentle giant. It brought me to tears. I told him I was sorry. My friends came and dragged me away, “You’re too sensitive Lila, he’s fine”. Everyone was telling me he was ok. I thought maybe I was crazy or something.
Hey, it could have been any one of the movies I loved, Orca, Charlotte’s Web, Free Willy, and even Cloud Atlas. Yes, what they did to the fabricants in Cloud Atlas, is what they do to cows and who knows how many other animals.
I do know, however, nothing was as influential as interacting with the animals themselves. Some years back we moved to an area surrounded by farms. On our morning walks we noticed all kinds of animals from horses to pigs to cows and more. We were most friendly to the horses, not really thinking about the other ‘farm’ animals. Soon enough, a couple of little cows started noticing we were giving carrots to their neighboring horses. Well, Jay (my wonderful partner) started to feed them too. I reluctantly started to go over and see what’s up. Turns out, every time we went to the horses next to the cows, they would come over and wait for us to visit and feed them too. One day, there was only one cow there, and he seemed super sad. Even his eyes were all red and had what looked like tear stains running down his face. Could this be real? Could cows cry? Did they feel this pain too? Finally, we caught up with his ‘owner’ and he told us the neighbor next door had poisoned his cows over some land dispute. He told us they both got sick, one died and this one, Swoosh he called him, survived. Completely losing my composure, the tears came flooding as he was talking and I almost barfed. Through my sobs, I promised Swoosh that he wouldn’t be alone, and that we would visit him as much as possible, and we did. He would come running across the field when I called his name. and eventually, he allowed us to pet him and exchange some affection. More on Swoosh in our later articles.
It wasn’t even two weeks later that something unusual happened again on one of our walks. We would always walk by what I think was a little pig farm. There was always a giant mama pig and some smaller piglets. Every so often, the smaller pigs would ‘disappear’ and she would give birth to more piglets. One day, for the first time in the two years we have been walking by this place, two little pigs climbed all the way toward the fence where we would stand. It was baffling as to why they headed our way. They came as close as they could to us, and just stopped. They sat there and stared at us. And I know this sounds nuts, but I just knew they needed help. They looked at me as if to say, “Please save us!!” and again, I lost my crap and started sobbing my eyes out. Jay reassured me that it was going to be ok, but the next day, they were all gone, even the mama.
Well, that was it for me. I started to stare at my food, and meats started to smell like dead bodies. I started wondering how I could be so devastated about these animals and still eat them. Well I no longer could. For the first time in my heavy meat eating life, I went vegetarian. Now let me explain, this was far from an easy change for me. I grew up eating meals where meat was the whole show. In fact, I wouldn’t eat it if there wasn’t enough meat on my plate (geez, what a spoiled jerk!). So even though the switch wasn’t easy, I had no other choice, not in my heart.
After a year of being a vegetarian, I decided to look into what the big deal was about eggs and diary. Since I was running a lucrative cookie business, I selfishly took a long time to look into it. But once I did, holy moly! It was so much worse than I could have imagined. I took my website down, and shut the doors to the cookie making business. I didn't know what I was going to do next, but no way was I going to be a part of that industry! I couldn’t un-learn what I had learned.
“All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”. Abraham Lincoln.
He was right. And so our journey continues.
........Next week: What's Next for Lilajay's