Q: I'm glad I'm becoming more aware of what really happens to animals, but sometimes it's hard to take. How do you handle what you read/see about the treatment of animals?
A: This is an excellent question and something that anyone interested in the rights of all animals has to deal with. Because I belong to several animal advocacy groups, I receive a lot of newsletters documenting triumphs in animal rights but also the atrocities. Although I want to know what's really going on with these animals, I have to first check in with myself to make sure I'm up for taking in this information. Some days, I can watch undercover videos from slaughterhouses and read about the mistreatment of animals on factory farms and laboratories. Other days, I just can't bear it. At times, I cry and feel angry at this injustice. But I try to channel these emotions into advocacy. I also keep in mind that we all have strengths and limits that we bring to the animal-rights cause. Some people can do investigative work, others are great at distributing vegan literature, while other people opt to eat a plant-based diet and model the joy and benefits of that. I personally am not great at protests but admire those individuals who can be so outspoken for the animals. I think my strength is in reaching out to people one-by-one.
When I drive by a factory farm (in California, there are lots of egg farms, where chickens never experience the outdoors nor enjoy the freedom to spread their wings and engage in instinctive, pleasurable behaviors), I say a prayer for the animals inside. I wish I could save every one of them from their suffering and inevitable slaughter, but I can at least send them peace and love and a promise that I will be one of many voices for them. It also brings me comfort to know that I am not contributing to their suffering by purchasing and eating animals. As many great animal advocates have said, we have an opportunity to protect the animals three times a day -- we vote with our wallets and with our meal choices.
I realize it's hard to know the truth about how animals are devalued. It's probably easier to look away, but the animals are depending on us to face this truth and help them in any way we can.