How many times have you heard the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” when talking about animal cruelty and eating meat? I recently heard it again from a close friend, and it made me cringe. I tried not to blow up. I just calmly explained that this kind of attitude from consumers is why our nation is in its current state with industrialized food production. He must have seen the vein bulging above my eye because he admitted that the world needs people like me to advocate for the animals. I’m up for the task of speaking for the voiceless, which is why I’ve been writing more about this topic on my blog.
I mentioned in a previous post that I’m reading The Bond by Wayne Pacelle. The entire book has been mind-blowing, even for someone who has read a lot about animal rights issues. The end of the book, in particular, has really hit home and relates completely to the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. Pacelle states,
“Often the only difference – the only thing that dulls or quiets our empathy – is the simple fact that they are far away and out of sight.”
He also explains exactly how I’ve been feeling lately about switching from a vegetarian to a vegan diet:
“A new diet can be off-putting to others. It can make family members and friends feel awkward, as if a moral judgment is being made about their own choices. And it can make us feel awkward, too, since we don’t want to be seen as preachy or extreme. At that point, we have two rational impulses in conflict – a social concern for animals, and a social instinct for conformity. It’s easy to oppose animal cruelty in principle; wringing cruelty out of our lives is a much bigger challenge in practice.”
As I’ve expressed previously, I thought it would be super easy to switch from being vegetarian for 3 years to eating a vegan diet. One of the toughest parts is explaining to others why I’m doing it without sounding “preachy” as Wayne Pacelle puts it. I just don’t want to come across as holier-than-thou, but I also want to tell people what is happening to the animals these days. It’s a tough balance, but I can only imagine it will get easier over time. Quotes like this one from Pacelle help reinforce one of the reasons I’m eating a vegan diet:
“Animals have the same spark of life that we have, formed from the same dust of the earth.”
I’ve been eating a vegan diet for a month now and I’ve had some mistakes along the way (mainly with cheese and milk being hidden in products), but overall I’ve felt great and I feel less awkward talking about it with others. Actually, I’ve had some friends ask me questions about animal cruelty and the “vegan way” which has been uplifting for me. As Pacelle mentions in his book,
“Eating animal products from more humanely raised animals or an entirely plant-based diet requires a shake-up in our shopping habits, along with a higher degree of discipline and personal commitment.”
He couldn’t write truer words. I’ve had to call restaurants in advance to ask about their vegan options, I’ve had to read labels on products every time I go to the grocery store, and I’ve been cooking at home more for lunch and dinner because I can control what is in my food. It’s definitely a “shake-up” to say the least. But it’s all worth it in my eyes.
If you’re even thinking about eating a plant-based diet, or are eating meatless at least once a week, then you’re one step closer to leading a healthier and more compassionate life than most people in this world, and that deserves some recognition. As Pacelle states,
“We’re a cause made up of converts; the doors of this movement are open to anyone whose heart and mind leads them inside.”
So, the next time someone says “out of sight, out of mind” remember Wayne Pacelle’s words:
“…We are the custodians of the other creatures – called to defend them and to be their voice.”