As I was tossing and turning in bed, between the hours of two and four a.m. last night, a wave of gratitude hit me. I’m not sure exactly why; maybe because it is so close to Thanksgiving and we are told that we should reflect on what we are grateful for in our lives.
What I was reflecting on is how grateful I am for all of the vegans and animal rights activists in the world. We make up such a small minority (one half of one percent in the US, which is smaller than the margin of error in polls!) on this planet. It warms my heart to know that there are others who see nonhuman animals the same way as I do. There is a group of people who view other animals as unique, sentient beings who are worthy of moral consideration, just as other humans are worthy.
Being vegan brings with it prejudices, ostracization, loneliness, strained and failed relationships, extreme sadness bordering on depression, and many other negative consequences. The very act of omitting other animals from our food, clothing, entertainment and household/cosmetic purchases is a serious offense to the 99.5 percent of people who view animals as property and things. Making a conscious and compassionate choice to view others as equal is an affront to those who use and exploit others.
The world we live in is a literal hell for other animals. I don’t have to remind you why. The world we live in is also extremely vegan-unfriendly. You cannot turn on the television, walk into a mall, office or your family’s home without being confronted by violence towards animals, whether that violence is manifested as meat, dairy and eggs or leather and fur, for instance. The world is a personal affront to our ethics. And yet we find ways to manage and remain sane.
We have chosen to not only wake up from this nightmare, but to also work towards ending the violence and exploitation against those most vulnerable. We choose to witness the atrocities committed daily against other animals, all for the pleasure of humans. We are living through yet another Holocaust.
And even through the personal costs, we continue on to fight on behalf of other animals. It would be much easier to spend our lives trying to figure out how to serve our own selfish desires, yet we continue the struggle. And this is where my gratitude came from. Knowing that you are out there, confident in your ethical commitment towards nonhumans, struggling to bring rights to those enslaved.
And so the entire country will be considering what they are grateful for on Thanksgiving, while munching on the corpse of a once sentient, beautiful being who desired the same life that you desire, and I will be thinking about you. I normally have a difficult time experiencing gratitude on a holiday that celebrates and worships the dual genocide of a race of people and a species of animal, but this year I will be grateful for the work you do on behalf of other animals, on the personal sacrifices you make, the protesting, shouting, leafleting, writing, fostering, rescuing and more. While we may not agree on how we are going to get to the promised land of equality for all, I am grateful to know that you are on the same team. Happy Thanksgiving.