Vegan or Meat-Eater? You Still Lack Respect
Recently there has been social media outrage about the Gorilla who was shot dead in protection of a little boy. It was an overall tragic event and it's easy to blame the mother, the zookeeper, or the gorilla (depending on which side you take) because we weren't there in order to make that judgement call. For me, it raises an interesting question about how we view and treat the animal kingdom on a whole.
Before I begin, I would like to make my intention abundantly clear. This article is designed to raise our consciousness and not to shame anyone for the decisions they make.
I see too often on social media vegans condemning omnivores and omnivores condemning vegans. I see people trying to shame others for the decisions they make. Coming from someone who has a lot of love for the animal kingdom, but who will eat meat occasionally, I think there is an essential element that is missing from all sides of the debate.
I am going to give three reasons to help connect all people together in hopes that maybe we can create a happier world for everyone, including the animal kingdom.
1. Stop Judging
To begin with, I have a lot of respect for people who are vegans. It's a very difficult choice to implement as a lifestyle and because animal cruelty is an undeniable phenomena, it's great there are a group of people who are doing their part not to support it. Honestly, good for you! But here is what I don't understand, the constant judgement towards those who are not vegan! I see so many shaming posts and it really bothers me. Just because someone eats meat does not equate to them not having respect for animals or not caring about animal rights.
I grew up with one side of my family who were hunters and lived off the land for food and the other side of my family who owned a meat packing company. My father who used to hunt and fishes regularly taught me about how to respect the land as a little girl. I see him with my niece and nephew as he teaches them about the different types of trees, shows them how to fish (and educates us on the different fish) and teaches them about the land surrounding our cottage. I've seen him throw back more fish then he has kept.
The fish he has caught has provided us lunch countless times and always with respect. I have never seen him disrespect the animals and the land they came from. I eat meat occasionally and I love poutines (they are actually my favourite). I'll also create a barricade in a Tim Horton's to protect a lady bug from being stepped on (true story), so please do not shame me or others because I choose to eat meat and will not shame you for your life choices. It's simple.
There's an extremely big difference between animal abuse, factory farming and eating meat. I know many farmers who raise animals, who absolutely show respect and love towards their animals. It's the difference between a First Nation viewpoint and a European one. When the European's arrived, they looked at the land and animals as something to conquer and profit on, where as the First Nations looked at is as a spirit giving themselves for our survival and thanking the animal for providing them with abundance. They still hunted and ate the animals, but you can't say the First Nations didn't have respect for what the took.
When Vegan's judge meat-eaters and vise versa we're creating a divide. If we would like to see change, we need to stop judging others choices and come together. Shaming each other isn't going to stop animal abuse and I am willing to bet even 99% of meat-eaters would prefer animals to be treated with respect. Animal abuse is animal abuse and instead of expending valuable amounts of energy in shaming each other, let's spend that energy to come up with a solution.
2. Be Conscious
This one will be a little trickier to master, but in order to make a change, being conscious of where we are spending our money plays a huge factor in how animals are treated. When we spend money at zoo's, taking pictures with wild animals, buying meat, buying clothes, buying some jewelry, make-up etc. all play a vital role in animal cruelty because we are supporting it (depending on where it is coming from). The reason animal's are being abused is because (unfortunately) there is money that supports it. If there wasn't money in the game, no one would play it.
I am in no way shaming anyone, because I'm 100% guilty of all of these things. It's just a fact though that when we spend our money, we are giving them currency to continue what they are doing. At least if we are conscious of this, when we are in specific moments we can make judgement calls.
If we could all afford to eat organic I think everyone probably would make that choice for themselves. It's simply really expensive and as a Millennial with two degrees, student debt and in the process of creating my own line of work, I can honestly say that I completely understand why people or families who are trying to make ends meet are buying the cheapest foods. I'm not really sure what the solution is and maybe this article will spark someone to find it. At least if we're conscious of where we are spending our energy and money we can begin making more choices (for example buying eggs from a farm as opposed from a grocery store), or taking your children to the zoo, be aware of the conditions the animals are being treated in and be aware of who you are supporting with where you are spending your money.
3. What's your Intention ?
It all comes down to intention. Is your intention to exploit or to survive? Are you harming an animal for personal gain or for food? Is the life you are taking or buying for a trophy? This intention is essential for practicing respect. If you are buying or killing for a trophy, I ask you one question. What is missing in your life that you feel hanging/wearing a trophy will make you feel better about yourself? I highly doubt a trophy is what is lacking in your life to make you feel good. There's no difference between a murderer/rapist who takes a trophy from their victim and a poacher. I have no respect for that.
At my cottage however, there is a deer head my uncle had shot for food. I know my uncle is like my father and has only respect for the animals, and he uses every part of the deer, as the First Nations would have. We love that deer, and it has become a part of our family. We put a red nose on it for Christmas, and when the kids were younger we used to lift them up so they could hug and pet it. I personally always pray to the deer's spirit for deer medicine to look out over my family. There is a massive difference behind the intention.
I own a winter beautiful coat with real fur on the hood of it. At first I thought it was so beautiful and I felt so lucky to have this animal spirit with me at all times keeping me warm. I then watched a video of the abuse a wolf went through in order to make a coat for Canada Goose jacket and my heart sank. There was no respect, no love, no care. No appreciation for the spirit of the animal, it was all for money and the person filming was abusive and I would say borderline psychopathic. The intention behind it is for money, and I pray that the animal who gave their life for my coat was treated with respect. I always send love to its spirit and thank it and apologize to it if it was mistreated.
The intention behind factory farming is for mass-consumption and to exploit as many animals for as much money as possible. The videos I have seen of abuse is sickening, but this is extremely different from the intention of regular farmers, even if in the end money is involved.
Moving forward, let's be conscious of the our intentions behind what we do, how we spend our money and who we support. We cannot paint everyone with the same brush because of the intention behind their actions. If there was some way to take away our unconscious support of factory farms and used that to support regular farms, we could potentially make a huge difference in farming in North America.
Whether it is a poacher, killing for a trophy or a pig getting beat up before being executed, or sharks being finned alive by the thousands, it is all animal abuse. I think the majority of the human species would like to see this change. I think the majority of us would like to see the lives of these animals being treated with respect before we consumed them.
I'll never understand why human's feel as if we have the upper hand over the animal kingdom. Sharks have adapted to live on this Earth for millions of years, and they will continue to do so long after us. We have not yet figured out as a human society that we DO NOT own the Earth and the animals that come with it. We don't live with the Earth, we exploit it for personal gain. We buy land that realistically can never belong to us. We look at killing animal's as a way to make money. Our intention (as a consumer society) has gone from survival to exploitation. Just because we can, doesn't mean we should. We should take what we need and nothing more. It's a lesson we need to learn, and hopefully we can shift our consciousness so we can learn it before it is too late.
In the end, every human, animal, plant and living being on this planet has a spirit that can feel love and pain. We are so saddened when we hear about a human being beat up, and yet as a society we support this treatment of animals, even when the animal feels the same pain as we do.
So to all the vegans, vegetarians, and meat-eaters let's come together and set an intention that we will raise our consciousness in our daily lives that will better support and respect the animal kingdom. We all play a role, so let's do our best to stop judging and come together. Let's raise the bar in respecting the animal's who give their lives so we can eat. The concept of one love includes every living species on this planet.
Let's all play our part, and we can make a change.