peace on the plate

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So, apparently, just a few weeks ago was about the time the little turkeys were born who will be featured on plates across the USA come the holidays.

Personally, I do not want to see another feeling being with whom I share the earth slaughtered for my plate. I know that in many minds that seems like an extreme position, but it’s really not at all – unless one considers compassion extreme.

I get it. I really do. Like pretty much everyone else, meat-eating was an unquestioned way of life for me for literally decades. The turkey and all of the accoutrements defined the Thanksgiving holiday.

veru9_9_18bOne Thanksgiving when I was a little girl, my father excitedly told us that he had brought the turkey home and it was in the trunk of the car. He convinced us that the turkey was alive. My brother and I were enlisted to stand at the ready, weapons in hand, as my father opened the trunk. Our job was to subdue and kill the turkey for the family table.

Dutifully, I stood there, shaking and tearful, holding some bludgeoning tool from out of my father’s toolbox. Of course, after much build-up, he finally opened the trunk, revealing the turkey’s carcass.

My father and the rest of the assembled family and relatives had a great laugh over the prank, but the moment rests darkly in my memory – both for the odd personal cruelty of it, and for the way it made me look at the turkey. I finally got it that the food on my plate was once a living, breathing, feeling being that didn’t want to die.

Although I glimpsed that sentiment as a young girl, it would be many, many years before I seriously processed the significance of the food that I eat through the lens of compassion. At long last, I am committed to a vegan lifestyle, albeit still occasionally an imperfect one.

Veganism is a journey. It’s not a matter of flipping a switch, and, voila, you’re done. No, it’s an unfolding, enlightening exploration of food, what it really is, and the suffering involved on the path to your plate.

Once you open your eyes to it, you can’t just unsee it. It pervades every aspect of your life, and calls you to be something more – and less.

It turns out that veganism is really just part of a much larger expedition about what it means to be the human that you are, sharing this planet with other life. It is an odyssey toward compassion, peace, and justice – something I believe to be a worthwhile journey indeed, especially during these days of ever-increasing harsh rhetoric and actions in our society.

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I could not celebrate a dead turkey on the table, with an inkling of how it arrived there, an understanding of how it impacts our shared earth to eat this way, and even a consideration of its impact on individual health both physical and mental. There are just so many reasons.

So, like I said, I get it that veganism is a difficult concept for most people in a culture so thoroughly steeped and invested in animal agriculture. I don’t judge people for the way they eat, even though, oddly, it doesn’t always work the other way around.

Still, you might want to think about it.

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