The Destruction of Other Lives

 

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Have you heard of the term cognitive dissonance? It is the mental discomfort you experience when your actions do not reflect your beliefs or values; it is the deep-seated feeling when one seeks justification, some sort of rationalization, for why it is acceptable. You can often feel it when you are confronted with an uncomfortable truth, whether that be having hurt a loved one or faltering on a personal goal. For me to be able to see character and integrity when I looked in the mirror, I needed to go vegan. 

If I believe that every living creature has the right to dignity and safety, how can I turn a blind eye to the brutality of the meat industry? If I believe that material goods should never be valued the way emotions and connections are, how could I ever support a company that tests on animals? My existence does not warrant the destruction of other lives. My experiences should not cause pain and loss, or destruction of land, and place burden onto others. I have value, but I am not worth more than the beauty of the planet. 

When I look into the eyes of another animal, I see curiosity. There may be fear of a stranger or the excitement of encountering a new friend. I can hear the cry of a mother who has lost her child, or see the wonder of experiencing the first snow. Sharing these common, powerful moments makes us equal in so many ways. Grief and love are not just universal bonds for humans, but universal bonds across species. I can feel my heart wrench when I place myself in their shoes. I cannot imagine ever saying that they deserve the suffering that is inflicted upon them… but is that not what I say when I look away? Is my silence not giving approval to these practices?

I want to live with intention. I want my movement in this world to have purpose and my time here to have meaning. Just as I savor the sun on my face and look to build bonds, I want to know I seek out ethical choices and actively recognize my impact on those around me. My best self is not passive or stagnant and I know that it is not infiltrated by dissonance. 

I will always stay vegan because I believe that feeling comfortable in my skin is everything.

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