Unbearable. It is a word often associated with oppression, sorrow, abuse, and burdens too heavy to bear. It is a word frequently used to describe adverse circumstances beyond our control or the stress inflicted upon us by others. What does the word "unbearable" bring to your mind?
As we continue to deal with the effects of a brutal summer heat wave my thoughts are drawn to the truckloads of pigs being hauled in extreme weather conditions to slaughter houses where they will be inhumanely killed to become bacon, pork chops, picnic shoulders, and sausages. Spending their short lives in deplorable conditions on factory farms, deprived of sunshine, fresh air, and the feel of grass beneath their hooves, these abused and fearful creatures will be slaughtered, cut into pieces, shrink wrapped onto Styrofoam trays, and arranged neatly in supermarket meat refrigerators. Humans who know nothing of their suffering or the capacity of these pigs to feel fear, will purchase their body parts and consume them without ever considering the price these creatures paid to satisfy man's appetite. Because we have been conditioned to accept this injustice as "normal," we are slow to accept responsibility for the unbearable plight we have subjected these pigs to, all because we view them as objects rather than the intelligent and sentient beings they are.
A similar fate plays out in the lives of many species of animals every day -- chickens, cows, fish, goats, sheep, bison, elk , deer -- animals killed to feed and clothe humanity, or hunted to satisfy man's pride. We take their lives unnecessarily and without hesitation, never truly considering their rights or feelings, or recognizing that there are options that don't involve their destruction.
Nearly as unbearable as this image of pigs headed to slaughter is the thought that I have personally been responsible for the deaths of countless animals in my fifty plus years on this earth. For most of my life I, too, thought of farmed animals as nothing more than cartons of eggs or packages of bacon, to be purchased and enjoyed because that was my right. I viewed them differently from my domesticated pets or the animals on display at the zoo. As a professing animal lover like you, I would never think of consuming a dog or cat. But is there really any difference between our family pets and farmed animals that are raised for food?
In 2016 my eyes were opened to the horrors of factory farming, the inhumane treatment of animals, and the destructive effects on our environment as a result of raising animals for human consumption. For decades, I bought into the lies that consuming the flesh and fluid of animals was necessary to ensure proper nutrition and good health, and the enjoyment of holidays and special occasions. Struggling with lifelong obesity, high cholesterol, and chronic acid reflux, I made the switch to a plant-based diet for my own health, animal welfare, and concern for the environment. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Perhaps the greatest struggle I have faced in this journey is my inability to persuade those I love most to change lifelong habits and switch to a plant-based diet. Despite my weight loss, improved cholesterol numbers, and reversal of my digestive issues as proof of the benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet. I find it difficult to comprehend that so many of the people I know choose to eat meat and suffer chronic health issues that could be drastically improved by making the switch and leaving meat off their plates.
Two of the greatest blessings I have experienced on this journey are meeting other vegans and actively supporting the work of organizations like Smithfield Pig Save and Ziggy's Refuge Farm Sanctuary. Smithfield Pig Save works tirelessly to raise awareness of the plight of farmed animals -- pigs, in particular -- and Ziggy's Refuge provides a happy ending and forever home to farm animals that have been abused, neglected, and rescued from slaughterhouses.
I am sure I will continue to experience ridicule and rejection for adopting a vegan lifestyle, but I will never apologize for my decision to educate others and fight for the animals who have no voice. They are worth the fight. So is our planet. So are you.
Pressing on for peace, health, and compassion,
Copyright 2016-2017 by Dee Dee Wike and Joy Wike. All rights reserved. www.feelingveggiegood.com