Saturday, November 21, 2009

Reflections on my denial

I'm about 2/3 of the way through Eating Animals, and a particular section about chicken processing on factory farms reminded me of an experience I had earlier this year. And it highlights the denial I was living in before I stopped eating meat.

I was walking my dog on a Sunday evening, tired, and a bright green bird caught my eye. It was lying in a back alley. At first I thought it was dead because it was lying on it's back, but then I saw it move when I got closer. My pup gave it a sniff and walked away. I took a couple steps as if to continue walking, but I turned right back around. I knew I couldn't do that. I felt bad for the little guy, and I couldn't let him suffer in pain and starve to death. I considered stomping on him right then and there to put him out of his misery. It would have been awful, and extremely difficult for me. But, he looked alive enough that maybe he just needed a vet and would be fine. I couldn't kill him. So, I gently picked him up, trying not to cause more pain or put him in shock. He still was only really moving his head and his wings a bit, but he was pecking at my fingers. The little bugger. I took this picture as I was walking back to my apartment.

No vet would even look at the bird unless I claimed it was my pet, and based on my description (I thought his leg was broken, maybe some internal damage) the tests alone were going to exceed $1,000, let alone any treatment. After hours of calling various groups I finally found a rescue organization that was willing to take him the next morning, against their rules. Valley Wildlife Rescue. Based on their advice, I did my best to give him a comfortable home for the night. I bought some birdseed at Target because it was late at this point, had a little water dish, put a heating pad under the box, and an old t-shirt to line it. Within a couple hours, he was eating and moving around the box a bit.

I drove to the rescue the next morning, and was late to work because of it. I was so thankful, and they said they'd get back to me. Well, they were optimistic in the first couple days, saying they were stopping the internal bleeding, would x-ray him once he was stable. And they asked if I would adopt him. I'm not a bird person. I had a parakeet as a kid, but that's it. I wasn't looking to have a bird cage to clean up in addition to taking care of my dog. But, something about the little guy made me want to keep him. He was a little fighter. I found him and saved him. So, I was going to keep him. Well, I got the e-mail a couple days later. After an x-ray, they saw his spine was broken, he wouldn't have a good life, and they put him down. I never thought I'd be so attached to a bird, and I was upset. I think I even cried on the way to work the next day, just thinking about him.

This brings me to my denial. How was it that the suffering of 1 bird was enough for me to put all that energy into saving him, yet I was willing to eat the flesh of animals that have suffered far worse? I even would take spiders outside after catching them, never killing them. I didn't think about it, that's how. I knew it was horrible, but I somehow kept on doing it.

In "Eating Animals" he describes chickens being grabbed by their legs and most of the time they break them. Suffering. And I've noticed, when people ask me why I went vegetarian and I answer "I'm not down with torchering animals," they always say they don't wanna know any more. They're all in denial. I'm so grateful for hearing this interview and finally snapping out of it. The book is shocking. And all my omnivore friends have a million excuses of why eating meat is OK. Interestingly, none of them are in a hurry to read the book. Otherwise, they'd have to face what I've faced. I had to look inside and really see that I was doing something I felt was wrong. I'm not a person who would support suffering of any life on this planet. And I wasn't living in a way true to my own beliefs. And that's something I strive for every day in as many ways as I can. I can only control what happens in my future, so I can't feel guilt for what I've done. I feel relieved. A burden has been lifted. I'm now more myself than I've ever been. And I've never felt better. And that's what I tell all the nay-sayers who assume I'm feeling fatigued or sickly. When they ask how I feel now, I say "I've never felt better." And I mean it.

1 comment:

  1. You blog brings a mother to tears... So glad it is going well for you. I enjoy reading about your journey.