I love animals. I mean, I REALLY love animals. Reaching back to my memories as a young child, I have always had a strong connection to them... I wanted to be around them... care for them... have them around me at all times... I even had dreams of being able to talk with animals, "Dr. Doolittle" style... Animals were then, and are now, an incredible comfort to me. They are beautiful living beings - That is why I fight for them.
Mid-1970's surrounding myself with animals - as usual...
I started to grasp what cruelty towards animals was probably around the age of 6 or 7... It started with a fishing trip with my family when my cousin was in town. I was all for the trip and was having fun UNTIL I caught a fish and my dad pulled the hook from its mouth. There was the struggle from the fish. There was blood. There was death. I didn't like this, not at all. I spent the rest of the afternoon in tears begging my family not to kill the fish and to release all the fish we caught back into the lake. Then, there was the realization that these fish were dinner. I think I really lost it then.
For me, as a child raised in the suburbs of Southern California, you got food at the grocery store. There was no mention or real connection made that the hamburger on the grill was once a cow, the fried chicken your mom made on special occasions was once a bird, and the tuna salad you loved so much was once a fish swimming free in the ocean. And then there were those tanks of live lobsters at Market Basket, remember those? I thought they were for your aquarium... You ate, and you were grateful for the delicious food. However, as I got older, my connection to animals became deeper, and the fact that we ate them was the worst to me. I went vegetarian (to the disappointment of my parents) at the age of 15.
Vegetarianism "back in the day" was really unheard of in my town and not understood by anyone I knew, especially my family. "It's just a phase", they all said. "She is just wanting attention", etc. etc. And try eating at Denny's with your friends and wanting pancakes and eggs at midnight after a show with NO bacon or sausage on the side. The look on the server's face was always as if it were pure blasphemy. Now sure, I was a bit on the extreme side of things in my teen-age years, with my hair in a blue mohawk at one point and wearing all black, shopping at thrift stores and spending my weekends at backyard punk shows, but this not eating animals thing was important and NOT a "phase".
I can go on, and on, (and on!) about being a vegetarian as a youth, getting rid of my leather shoes and jackets (again to the disappointment of my parents), reading all I could about animal rights and animal welfare, ordering anti-fur and anti-leather propaganda from PeTA and sneaking them into clothing pockets and shoes at all the stores at the mall... Yeah, that was me, such a rebel... But here's the thing... I am still strong in my commitment to animals and their welfare, in fact I have never been stronger.
Volunteering at NKLA (No Kill Los Angeles)
I am now vegan and very informed about the exploitation of animals, and do all that I can to inform others of the animal cruelty that is still rampant in our society. Now before you get all on the defensive, please check yourself at the door. I am what is considered an "arm chair activist". I use the internet and social media to share information with the hopes that those who feel the same way I do will find their way to a compassionate lifestyle. I go out of MY way to shop consciously, boycotting companies that test on animals (still, in this day and age!!) and leather hasn't been in my closet in decades (and for the record, fur has NEVER been a part of my wardrobe - EVER)... I support vegan products, compassionate companies, and shop extensively in the organic produce section of the grocery store. I keep tabs on local and foreign animal cruelty cases, signing petitions and networking constantly to get the truth "out there". I volunteer with multiple animal rescues donating my time and I help others by networking to find loving homes for the animals they have in their care.
No, I am not better than you, that is so NOT the point of this writing. It is to let you know that I am here for those who wish to enlighten themselves and commit to a compassionate lifestyle - It's not as hard as you think, I promise.
Enjoying my dinner at Veggie Grill in Long Beach, CA
Oh, and one last thing, if I may be so bold to ask of you: "Please think before you eat." We CAN change the world for the better - One bite at a time. ♥