Sunday, April 30, 2017

Seeing Things Differently

It has been nearly a year since Joy and I made the decision to go vegan and she would agree that it is one of the best decisions we have ever made.  Nothing gives us greater joy than sitting down to a healthy meal knowing that no animals were harmed to nourish our bodies and satisfy our appetites.

Before going vegan we really didn't give much thought to how our choices affected animals. Besides the obvious consumption of animal products at mealtime, I often wore their leather on my feet or enjoyed the comfort of their fur and wool on a cold winter's day.  I lived for zoo outings and circuses because of my love for and curiosity with animals, never considering the abuse they might suffer behind the scenes.  I just didn't know.  Neither of us did.

Walking through the pet department at Walmart recently I happened to glance at the fish tanks on the back wall and noticed the beautiful colors of the tropical fish in them. Before going vegan I wouldn't have given them a second thought, yet I found myself sad and thinking that they belong in the ocean, not in a sterile, man-made habitat with no vegetation or natural environmental stimulation. The odds that these fish will eventually find their way to an aquarium are slim. Most will die in their confinement or be disposed of because no one chose to take them home. How is that fair, humane, or right?

I remember the very first trip Joy and I made to Virginia. On her spring break we made the long drive from Tennessee to visit Steve, who had moved here a few months before the end of the school year. We stopped at a rest area that backed up to a beautiful cow pasture where several adult cows and their babies were grazing. Joy wanted to go pet the cows that were near the fence. Recently, on our way home from Tennessee we stopped at a similar rest area, only this time we saw the cows a little differently than before. Though they looked peaceful and happy we knew from their ear tags that they are being raised as commodities to be sold at auction and eventually be slaughtered. The wonder we had felt on that first trip to Virginia was replaced with sorrow that their lives don't really matter -- they were born to die and will eventually suffer the same horrific fate as any factory-farmed livestock.

For us, being vegan is not just about eating a whole food plant-based diet in order to maximize our health, though that certainly is a great benefit. It is about so much more.  It is about preserving our environment and fighting for the rights of animals by not consuming them or spending our money in support of activities that result in their harm.  It is about doing all we can to educate others and encourage a more compassionate lifestyle for the good of all -- our fellow humans, our planet, and the animals who inhabit it with us.

Most people think they could never make the switch to a plant-based diet, giving up cheese, eggs, and the meats they have eaten their entire lives.  I totally get that. After all, I was raised on the standard American diet (SAD) myself, living a lifetime on hamburgers, grilled meat, turkey at Thanksgiving, and ham at Easter -- oh, and bacon with everything!  Then I met some four-legged friends and some two-legged humans who became my heroes and inspiration.  Pictured below are just a few of them.

Sweetheart and Joy

Ziggy Hartness and Dee Dee

All the animals at Ziggy's Refuge and founders Kristin Hartness and Jay Yontz
Joy and I are doing what we can, in our own small way, to raise awareness and to encourage others to think and choose differently when it comes to the foods we eat, the products we consume, and the clothes we wear.  If we can encourage you or help you in any way, please let us know.

Peace and compassion for all,

Dee Dee

Copyright 2016-2017 by Dee Dee Wike and Joy Wike. All rights reserved.

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