In the beginning…
I’m writing this blog after a long time of contemplating thoughts and ideas about our relationship with non-human animals and being urged by my husband, Marc, who insisted I should share them in a blog.
I have been thinking about and empathizing with animals since I was a child. My very first memory involves animals – I remember my mom and I looking out a window at the feral cats in the back yard…
However, I’d rather not start with my dog and cat experiences. I do want to tell you about an unusual encounter with animals that led me to think about how we treat other non-human animals. At the age of seventeen (more than a few years ago…), I volunteered in kibbutz Ein-Shemer (in Israel). We worked mostly in the fruit orchards, but one night I was asked to help in the chicken house. I remember this experience vividly, I had to stand in the chicken house where many chickens were running around, catch and hold one per hand, and place them in a cage. I recall how the birds were fighting me and one managed to bite my finger which bled (no gloves…).
The chickens I worked with were not debeaked like most chickens today, and they probably lived in better conditions than the ones nowadays. Nevertheless the whole experience was extremely disturbing. I felt sorry for the birds who tried to escape from us, and sad seeing all the ones who were caught and placed in cages on a truck, finding themselves on their way to their final destiny. I couldn’t help but empathize with the chickens and think of my treatment as cruel. I returned home and told my mother that I would never eat chicken again, and I haven’t.
I know that working in a chicken house today would be a more horrific experience due to the industrialization of the poultry industry. I’ll tell you about only one aspect, crowding. Chickens are crowded as much as possible, and as a result they trample each other in order to get to the feeders, and the weak ones are pushed away and left to die from thirst and hunger. As a result of crowding they peck and pluck each other’s feathers and cause injuries and sometimes death. In order to try and keep them from injuring and pecking each other, they are kept in darkness and their beaks are cut off (without anesthetics!) in a process called debeaking.
I stopped eating meat a few years later. There was no firsthand experience that brought me to that decision, and back then, there wasn’t the overabundance of information we have nowadays about how animals in the meat industry are mistreated. I just thought about it as: I love animals, I do not want to eat them.
I became a vegan about two years ago. The internet and social media helped me understand and heighten my awareness regarding the treatment of animals in the dairy and egg industries. More importantly, conversations with my friend, Rita Anderson, a long time animal rights activist, increased my knowledge and raised my awareness regarding the cruelty involved with producing “dairy products” and eggs, among other important issues.
Food is what we are made of, it is an integral part of our life, and therefore it was the most obvious to associate with animal exploitation, and more importantly, to change.
Over time, in this blog I will share my thoughts and awareness about how humans, treat, use and exploit animals.
I want to thank all my friends and family who have been willing to listen to and consider my ideas, share their own animal related questions, ideas and experiences, provide me with news, information and resources, and tasty vegan food at parties and dinners!