Practical Issues > Things To Do > Activism
Helping animals isn't as hard as you'd think


Stephanie Markham
November 4, 2014

When people realize that it's been almost two years since I've eaten meat, cheese, milk or eggs, the first thing they usually say is “Wow, I could never do that.”

You know what I could never do? I could never be a dairy cow.

I could never be kept constantly pregnant in order to produce more milk than is natural or healthy, not a drop of which will go to my baby, who will be taken away from me after its birth and eventually share my fate if it is female or be slaughtered in infancy if it is male.

That's something I could never do.

Another expression I often hear is that people are afraid to offend me by eating meat in front of me.

My response is always the same--don't apologize to me, apologize to the animals; they are the ones suffering when consumers support factory farms.

However, I won't preach at you or condemn you for eating meat; that's not my style.

When I first started researching animal rights and issues, I was surprised at how many influential people practiced vegetarianism or veganism.

Paul McCartney has made appearances in PETA videos saying that if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.

Geezer Butler, bass player for Black Sabbath, is vegan, Ellen and Portia, Bill Clinton--and they all seem to have their lives together.

That's why I feel leading by example is the best way to make a difference.

Though, I wish I were more of an anarchist, because the Animal Liberation Front sounds pretty damn cool.

People should give more consideration before saying they could “never” do something.

I think people respond that way is because a vegan diet is so dramatically different than what they grew up seeing and believing was the normal way to eat.

Transitioning from always seeing vegetables as a side dish, if they make it onto the plate at all, to vegetables being the main course, is quite a shift.

But it's a doable shift. My tastes have changed a lot; I went from Googling pictures of pizza when I was hungry late at night to craving fresh fruits and vegetables.

People assume that helping animals is an all-or-nothing deal. While I personally found I could give up all animal products easily, I know not everyone will.

Not eating meat for one day out of the week helps. Choosing the vegetarian option on the menu once in a while helps. Buying from a local farmer instead of a sadistic, monopolistic corporation helps.

If we can agree that minimizing animal suffering is our goal, then do what you can. You may be surprised at how it works out.

Even if you proudly proclaim yourself a carnivore until the day you die, you can at least take a few extra minutes to find cosmetics and soap that haven't been tested on animals.

We don't need to rub chemicals in the eyes of helpless bunnies so you can look and smell pretty.

Stephanie Markham can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]

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