This year I am celebrating my first Thanksgiving as a vegan. Today, as in years past, I will gather with family to visit and celebrate our blessings. There will be turkey on the menu but not on my plate. Instead I will be taking a meatless version of the classic turkey and dressing to share with the curious in my family, as well as vegan green beans, sweet potato casserole, and chocolate cake. Being vegan will not hinder my enjoyment of the traditional Thanksgiving feast. On the contrary, for the first time ever I will enjoy my dinner knowing that no animals were harmed in the making of my meal and that the food on my plate is not only delicious but actually good for me.
As I count my blessings this year I am perhaps most thankful for "making the connection." I am thankful for the documentaries my daughter shared with me that opened my eyes to the horrific animal abuse, environmental destruction, and health issues resulting from factory farming and animal agriculture.
Making the connection between the meat on our plate and the animals -- sentient, intelligent creatures who feel pain and desire to live free, just as we do -- is what separates vegans from non-vegans. Most people claim to love animals, however very few understand that abusing and slaughtering farmed animals for meat is just as unethical as torturing and eating their beloved pet cat. They would never tolerate animal abuse when it comes to their pets, yet they fail to understand that animals raised for meat are as capable of feeling pain and fear as their dear Fluffy or Fido.
Making the connection is necessary not only to fully understand the benefits of a vegan lifestyle -- better health, a cleaner environment, and a greater compassion toward all God's creatures -- but to remain motivated and committed when others around us criticize or fail to understand our choice to leave meat off our plate.
More than anything I desire to be a vegan who can help others make the connection by demonstrating with my own life a greater compassion toward ALL creatures -- human and non-human -- and by sharing my experience with grace and patience, knowing that not everyone sees things the way I do or reaches that connecting point the same way. I want to be an activist who leads assertively but gently, without criticizing or browbeating others. Never do I want my love for animals and my conviction that we can survive and fare better without consuming them to overshadow my love and compassion for humanity.
I realize that the message of veganism, much like the message of Christianity, will be offensive to those not ready to receive it. But just as I am committed to living my life as a witness to all Christ has done for me, I will purpose to show my fellow man that veganism is a compassionate lifestyle with many benefits and that animal cruelty and abuse and the resulting destruction to our health and environment were never God's design.
I am thankful for so many things this year -- improved health, a heightened awareness of our world and those who inhabit it, and a greater sense of compassion toward all living creatures -- human and non-human alike. I am thankful for those who read our blog and share our passion. But even more, I am grateful for the opportunity to make a difference by helping others make the connection.
Wishing you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving,
Copyright 2016 by Dee Dee Wike and Joy Wike. All rights reserved. www.feelingveggiegood.com