I don’t always get it right, and, over the years, I have certainly supported practices, institutions and companies that have committed animal rights atrocities with little thought or consciousness on my side. How often I chose to disassociate or ignore what I knew to be true, owing to the inconvenience factor of changing my habits. I am not proud of this history, I wish I knew then, what I know now, and I could erase that from my past, but I cannot. And of course consciousness is ongoing. What will I know in 5 years’ time, that I haven’t realised today?
For many years I toyed and played with a vegetarian lifestyle, I had a strong opinion on the cruelty of zoo’s and hunting (sometimes while in habit of eating meat and/or wearing leather), I always stopped to help lost dogs, I wouldn’t consider wearing fur and I enjoyed the luxury of being exposed to South African wildlife through my sister who ran a Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre (this meant through exposure that I could talk with some knowledge on the inherent problems experienced in the Wildlife Industry in South Africa). I considered myself an ‘animal lover’ and a good person. I felt particularly virtuous when I happened to be going through a vegetarian phase! If I added a recycling program to my vegetarianism I could be nauseating when on the topic of ‘conscious’ living.
So what has changed for me? 7 years ago a friend introduced me to two movies ‘meet your meat’ and ‘earthlings’. I watched them on January 15th 2007. I cried the whole way through, I cried for days afterwards. I could not believe what was going on under our noses on a daily basis, and I could not believe what I had been supporting. I was instant Vegan. I couldn’t understand why if I gave people the gift of this info, as had been given to me, why there would not be an immediate uprising and our local Johannesburg abattoir closed down, with the rest to follow. The injustice was huge! Reality set in and I realised the fight was not as simple as presenting people with the truth. This being said, I am a committed fan of social media for one major reason, it has given an expedient global platform to educate and expose people on the atrocities being committed against animals and humans, and slowly the levels of consciousness are rising.
Soon after this I started our organisation Chickens as Pets not Food – Chicken Rescue and Rehabilitation South Africa, and my journey continued (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chickens-as-pets-not-food-Chicken-Rescue-and-Rehabilitation/101165646600196) . Going Vegan has been my most important decision to date. Going Vegan felt like coming home. For the first time in my life I had felt as though I was really doing the right thing for me, for the world around me. It has, and continues to be, superbly challenging – no, finding food to eat is easy and my protein levels are perfect, that’s not the challenging part, it’s the ethical decisions I find myself faced with on a weekly basis. Once you go Vegan, you are rejecting a violent and oppressive ideology, and that forces a constant internal dialogue on every decision one makes. So please excuse my (and other vegans) indifference to unsophisticated arguments for eating meat that have little thought behind them. As a meat eater you don’t think about your choice, you are generally socialised into that choice. I have been there. I have lived both sides. Vegans live and breathe our choice not to cause harm, we have thought about this a lot! My eyes have been prized open and held there with matchsticks. There is no longer a lack of consciousness or a disassociation to hide behind, I have stripped away my ability to close my eyes. All at once the world becomes an excruciatingly painful place to live.
So why carry on? Why not exit this hell hole the human race has created? For me, as painful as it is to live here and bumble along in my human way, the heightened levels of consciousness have opened me up to a rich tapestry of emotion and experience. I feel so much more acutely, and that opens up the possibility of feeling both the pain and the joy, the opportunity of connecting with both humans and animals with delightful intensity. I never want to go back to living with that level of unconsciousness.
So, what are some base non negotiables? Some practices and institutions you could stop supporting today, right now and potentially increase the quality of life of thousands of animals around the globe, as well as put your stake in the sand on some controversial issues. This article is is titled ‘the 7 deadly sins of living unconsciously’.
For the next 7 days each post will highlight one of our chosen 7 deadly sins, an opportunity to live more consciously, if you are not already doing that, or if you want to move your journey forward. I am open to anyone adding to these, provided it is line with eliminating animal cruelty. I don’t want to hear from some smart ass how Vegans and animal rightist should be eliminated, how we have canines for a reason, that lions eat animals, how plants have feelings too, how you once knew a Vegan that died of cancer, or how this is being shoved down your throat ……….. I have had these conversations ad nauseum and I am not going back.
Re visit us tomorrow to read about our first deadly sin committed while living unconsciously.