I wanted to say thank you for the positive feedback I've been getting about this blog on facebook and through text messages. If there is something you would like me to blog about, be it a question or topic or anything, let me know, I would love to do some research and hammer out a blog for you!
If you're a new reader, you can get my story about how I got started as a vegan here. Then I answered some frequently asked questions here and even touched on a taboo subject here. I call religion taboo because in my opinion, religion and politics are usually just a recipe for disaster, so I tend to avoid bringing them up. However, I felt it was important to address this issue right away and de-bunk the myth that the Bible instructs us to eat meat. Hopefully, after reading, you came away with the impression that the Bible instructs us to be non-violent, compassionate, loving, and humble beings, instead of a species who tortures, kills, and then eats God's creatures. If you don't follow Christ or read the Bible, hopefully you came away with the motivation to become a more compassionate, non-violent human simply because it could be the single most important thing you contribute to this Earth. The world certainly wouldn't be a worse place because of it.
Today, I wanted to talk about our pets. For most of us, our day-to-day interaction with animals includes the pets we own. Meet Jake, adopted from an animal rescue in Clover, South Carolina on a hot day in August, 2010
At this particular time in our lives we were experiencing a shortness in money and a shortness in patience with each other, yet we were called to drive all the way to this animal rescue, so we responded.
Jake was in a hot, stuffy room with 50 other kittens and cats. They were all sneezing, crying, or sleeping. I spotted Jake sitting in the windowsill, and for me, it was love at first sight. We didn't get him right away though, we returned home empty handed to think about it and pray on it for a few days. Two days later we drove down again, and we returned home with Jake. He was very sick, as you can tell, and when we took him to the vet he had a temp of 104 degrees, kitten flu, an upper respiratory infection, worms, and kitty conjunctivitis.
We were patient with him, nursing him back to health slowly and returning to the vet three times for more antibiotics and eye creams. We became very attached to him, and wanted him to be healthy. I remember worrying about him and losing sleep to stay up with him because he was so lethargic and sickly. I knew a baby cat like himself could dehydrate and die within a couple of hours.
I also remember holding Jakie while he slept and wondering if I had ever loved something so much
To our delight, Jakie became well and developed a personality like none I have ever seen.
He was curious,
he was affectionate,
he sat up like a person,
and he was so darn sweet and cute I could just eat him up!
I love Jakie so much that I cannot imagine hurting him. In fact, I might do a lot of things in my power just to protect him and keep him healthy and happy.
You might have a pet you feel similar about, perhaps a beloved family dog or a kitten that gives you butterflies every time you lay eyes on her. You might be thinking of all the time, energy, love and effort you have invested in your animal. I know humans have the capacity to be kind to animals, this is evident in our doggy day-cares, pet spas, and medical procedures like transplants and dialysis that they have for animals now! The disconnect comes into how we can so kind to the animals in our homes and so cruel to animals outside of our home. Let's read a few facts about pigs, because they are the most like domesticated animals.
- Pigs are the fourth smartest animal. They can read and play video games.
- Pigs do not "sweat like pigs", in fact they have no sweat glands so they do not sweat at all. They cool down in mud or water, but prefer water to mud. One woman made a shower for her pet pig and he would go in, turn the water on, cool down and then turn the water off.
- Pigs can learn to play joystick controlled video games. A study conducted at Yale University showed that "there is a lot more going on cognitively than we have ever given credit for"
- When a female pig gives birth, she sings to her piglets, and the babies learn her voice. Then they come running when they are called by their mom.
- Piglets spend hours a day sunbathing, exploring, and playing with each other.
- Pigs snuggle close to each other and sleep nose to nose
- According to Professor Donald Broom of Cambridge School of Veterinary Medicine, "Pigs have the cognitive ability to be quite sophisticated. Even more so than dogs, and more so than three year old humans."
- Pigs are clean animals. Given the opportunity, they will never use the bathroom anywhere near their food or sleeping space.
In his book The Outermost House, author Henry Beston wrote,
"We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals...
We patronize them for their incompleteness,
for their tragic fate of taking form "so far below ourselves,"
and therein we err, and greatly err...
for the animal shall not be measured by man
in a world older and more complete than ours,
they move finished and complete,
gifted with the extensions of the senses we have lost or never obtained
living by voices we shall never hear"
This quote moves me every time I hear it. I know we believe that animals speak in voices we cannot hear. I know we believe our animals try to communicate with us. I know we can do better than the current way we are treating them.
You may have come to a point in your life when you are questioning everything you have been told, including assumptions you had about yourself and the way you live your life. The mere fact that you are reading this blog is evidence that you have the courage to embark on a self-reflective journey and become a more compassionate person. It is during these crucial moments of self-reflection and realization that you start to see the truth. You might become angry, or overwhelmed with sadness. It is hard to recognize the pain we have caused others, and it hurts to know we have caused suffering. This knowledge is sometimes met with opposition, and in other cases intense sadness. Be patient, both with yourself and others around you. Acceptance of the truth is bound to come, and the truth is that we are all one, appearing as many, and the way you treat others around you is a direct reflection of yourself. Each step anyone takes, no matter how small, is important and should be celebrated. The real key is to develop compassion so that it motivates what you do in your life, including what ends up on your plate. If you can do this, if you can somehow graft compassion into your life and lead by example, you will be giving others a great gift.