Seeing a video on 20/20 years and years ago involving animals testing cosmetics left me feeling sick and sad. I knew I was part of the problem.( at least what I saw as a problem. ) I wondered how I could sympathize with a tortured animal but not see the role I had in causing that pain. It doesn't work for me to be outraged by animal abuse but still continue on doing nothing to change things. I think with anything, you hear a voice inside your head that tells you when you are on the right track. I was 16 and being political struck me as liberating. I was becoming my own person and it was great. It was before I had ever thought of telling anyone I was gay and I was testing the waters of being "different". I only ate peanut butter, mac and cheese, pizza and fries because there were no veggie burgers etc. in Fargo at that time. I wasn't eating healthy, but I was convinced I was doing what was right for me. I never tried to change anyone, in fact, I rarely discussed it. I found it disheartening that all debates led to the "how do you know plants don't have feelings? argument) That was actually a story on 20/20 too. To be honest, I didn't know the science of what I was doing, I just knew I wanted to save all the animals. Look, I never said I wasn't naive.
My first year in college I took a course on social issues and we covered factory farms. I felt proud I had not eaten meat in 2yrs. I was amazed at how many meat eaters where upset about it too but I found it frustrating that no one was willing to change. By that time I had become an atheist (after 18yrs of strict catholic upbringing) and realized you had to be change if you wanted change , I couldn't count on God to save me. I was never lazy about what I believed and I would always show up for the underdog and speak up. It had become more trendy by this time to be vegetarian and meal choices had expanded. I was in a bigger city and easily found others who believed as I did. I didn't and still don't see it as a black and white issue. I have friends on both sides of the spectrum. I could debate animal rights with other vegetarians and still come home frustrated and empty. By my third year of college I also saw animal experiments first hand. I was going to school at the University of MN, here in Minneapolis, and was involved in a study of Primates addicted to cocaine. I saw monkeys force fed cocaine everyday and locked in their cages. They would be sweet, then mean, then scream, then look shocked and scared. I hated it. I would cry every day over it. I was so pissed that these monkeys had to get jacked up on coke and locked in a cage so they could figure out what to do with junkies who couldn't shake their own addiction. I saw in their eyes something that broke my heart. It was then I also moved on from being an atheist. My connection to animals was/is spiritual and I could sense their pain and fear. I was disgusted that I had gotten myself into that situation. I dropped out of that course study the following week. Even 13 years later, I will never forget those monkeys. I realize that most people don't see value in lab animals lives. They see it as a price worth paying. I respect that, but I don't see them that way. Monkeys injected with cocaine is not in the natural order of things. Animals chained to the floor or a cage so they can't stand up are not in the natural order of things. People who post on here that testing isn't that bad, probably have never seen it first hand. It is actually probably worse than you think.
Everyone always told me you couldn't be veg and go to Europe..
But when I go to Paris every year and have to order fries , vegetables and salads at most places, I don't feel like I am missing out. I cook at home almost every night and there is such variety and versatility to a veg diet that I can honestly say I never feel as though I am missing out , even when I dine out. I feel cleaner inside my soul, not just my body. I started out with such a poor veg diet that I can't honestly remember feeling any better physically. Luckily my partner has similar feelings and we are able to fully communicate our issues and passions without worry. No one else in my family is vegetarian and at this point, none of my friends are either. We just don't talk about it. As a small business owner, I have other things to worry about most days.
I like the idea of not contributing to something I see as a problem, no matter how difficult it has sometimes been. I can appreciate animals more when I don't have to think of them as food. It renews my faith in my own life. At this point in the game I see my choice to be vegetarian as 100% spiritual. The added health and envrionmental benefits are a bonus, but I will never see animals as something for me to eat.