Firstly, I understand that when you hijacked my conversation about local chicken production you meant well. I know that when you expounded your facts and figures on how raising animals for food is the leading cause of environmental devastation, that this is what you believe to be true. I commend you on your research into a subject that you are clearly passionate about, and I agree there are practices that farmers can undertake that would see significant improvement to sustainability of our earth, reduce carbon emissions, and leave a brighter future for the generations to follow. I understand that, like you said, you want to make this world a better place, and believe me, you have my solidarity on that one.
But then, dear vegan, you began to throw words out there to those of us that choose to produce and eat meat ourselves. Words like cruel, savage, uneducated, unintelligent, closed-minded. You said that we needed to wake up to your perspective, which you believe to be the one absolute truth, and anybody who is not following this truth is unenlightened.
As this, dear vegan, is where you lost me. Because you preach compassion for all living creatures, yet refused to treat a fellow human with respect and kindness simply because they exercise their freedom in a way that differs from your beliefs. And I’m sorry dear vegan, but you cannot make this world a better place when you spout condemnation, judgment and hate toward people just because they do not share your point of view.
Dear vegan, you do not know me. You do not know my morals and ethics. You do not know of my tender heart and my love for animals. You do not know of my compassion. You do not know of the farming practices my husband and I undertake to give our animals the healthiest and happiest life. You do not know of my health journey, and the reasons why I choose to eat animal products.
And the thing is, by showing such blatant disrespect, you are actually doing your cause a major disservice. Because I was interested in your beliefs. I did want to know more about ways that you feel we can work together to build a better future. I would have loved to have shared thoughts and ideas with you. But then you insulted me because you think I am ignorant, uneducated and lack intelligence. When you do not even care to know me. And because of this, I am no longer interested in hearing what you have to say. As it stands, you cannot force someone to adopt your beliefs. And even less so when your beliefs are laced with insult.
What it comes down to, dear vegan, is that we have all been given a life to live as we see right. We are faced with a tirade of moral, spiritual and ethical choices… breastfeed or bottle-feed… school or homeschool… faith or atheism… career mum or stay at home… vegan or non-vegan.
We make these choices based on our circumstances, our knowledge, our research, our education, our life experience. These choices are not an exposition of wrong or right. They just are. They represent our freedom, our ability to think for ourselves and choose our own path in life. And the moment we start judging people on these choices, is the moment we trade our gift of humanity for something less. We taint the world with shades of our bigotry, intolerance, narrow-mindedness. We lose the privilege and joy of seeing a community come together for a cause that will only bring benefit to all; and instead witness a community that becomes divided by anger and hostility.
We will never live in a world where every person believes one and the same. Yes, the idea of making the world a better place is something we should all strive toward. But even if the world were to consist of only vegans, this would still not necessarily make the world a better place.
Because the goodness of our hearts is not defined by the choices we make, but in the person we choose to be. What will make this world a better place is the way we reflect love, kindness, respect and compassion to others. The way we accept the choices that others make as their choices and live alongside them in peace, even if their choices don’t align with our beliefs. The way we can put our differences aside and learn from one another and work together for a common cause. We need to understand that how we choose to live our lives is our own perspective of the world; it’s our own unique privilege. And to deny another person that same privilege only takes away from the paradigm of freedom that we so readily embrace for ourselves.
Dear vegan, we have made different choices in life based on our individual beliefs. I love the fervor with which you stand up for what you believe in. I love your heart, and that you only desire to make the world see things the way you do. Whilst I don’t always agree with your beliefs, I choose to respect them and to live alongside you in peace. And all I ask, dear vegan, is that you choose the same for me.