Today's MoFo Prompt is: "Honor a human or non-human animal who inspires your veganism."
this doodle is a nod to the people who inspired me, all those years ago, to choose veganism. My co-worker and good friend Jen E, who was the first vegan I ever met. Sharon Gannon and David Life, yoga teachers who handed everyone in class (including me) a "Why Vegan?" brochure from Vegan Outreach. And that Vegan Outreach brochure that opened my eyes to the suffering involved in the egg & dairy industry, and immediately and forever changed my conviction.
This prompt was hard for me, because I had a lot of ideas, and I wasn't sure which road to take. Honestly, I've been vegan for so many years now, that vegan just feels like who I am. It sounds weird to say it, but I don't really feel like I need inspiration to be vegan anymore. Since the first moment I "went vegan," I haven't ever once wavered in my conviction that this was the right choice for me. My route to veganism came through yoga, and was a continuation of my path toward "ahimsa" - the yogic principle of compassion and non-harming. This has been and will continue to be the principle that I think of the most often, in all branches of my life (diet, actions, speech, thoughts) - and that I strive toward with ever higher standards. To be hurt feels terrible, and to hurt someone else feels even worse. I don't want to be a part of it.
Still, I needed something more to post about... so, of course I thought of the animals. I live in a community with abundant wild life (humpback whales, dolphins, deer, hawks, owls, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, etc). I love sharing my world and my community with these non-human beings. But the animals I get to see and engage with every day are our sweet pets, of course. Just now, Mr VE&T and I are sitting on the sofa, and all five of our pets are here with us.
Footie loves to be outsideLately we had to start keeping him inside at night because there have been a lot of coyotes in our neighborhood, and sadly, many cats have gone missing. It's sort of wonderful to know that there are beautiful coyotes in our area, but also scary for our kitties. Footie is so upset about being kept inside at night. But, at least he makes the most of his daytime hours by getting out of the house!
I know it seems a bit overboard to have five pets, and maybe it is... but they are each so individual, so particular with their personalities and idiosyncrasies. A funny thing happened when we got Footie (cat #2) a couple years ago -- all of a sudden, Yummers (cat #1) became such an individual! He and Footie are very different people - with radically different personalities and boundaries and spirits. When Yummers was the only cat, those behaviors seemed cat-like. But after the arrival of Footie, they seemed uniquely Yummers-like. And having five pets helps us see each of them as the little individuals that they are.
two craziesSnoopy is a little nut: A pint-sized packet of joie de vivre. When we got him, he brought along his enthusiasm for howling. I don't think Stevie or Dottie had ever even considered howling, but now they love to howl along with him. Dottie usually gets confused and just starts barking with her ear-drum splitting maniacal bark, but Stevie has become an adorable howling pro. She gets so excited about it that sometimes she has a hard time stopping. Kinda like when you start laughing during class and it just gets worse and worse and you can not stop laughing.
Dottie likes to carry our shoes into the bedroom and leave them on our bed. It's so cute. She used to chew them up (totally less cute), but now she just gently transports them to the bed and leaves them there.
sorry for the weird light in this video
Also, Dottie loves loves loves to learn tricks and perform tricks. If you teach her a trick once and don't do it again for 5 years, she will still remember it. She used to really love doing "roll over," but now that she seems a little older and more creaky, I don't ask her to do it on the stone tiles outside. You can see that they're all pretty into, but no one's got the Laser-Like-Focus of Dottie Bonkers.
Stevie & her little blue ballStevie learned to play fetch just a couple years ago, and now she is wildly in love with her squeaky ball. Friends, can you tell how WONDERFUL Stevie is??? She is such an amazing animal, so full of emotional complexity. I love her so much. When she puts her little ears back like that it just makes my heart explode. SO CUTE.
One of the things that amazes me the most is Eye Contact. What on earth is happening in that exchange??
I find it totally mysterious and amazing that we can actually share our living space with members of other species. The gentle allowances and understandings that we arrive at, from years of co-habitation and without ever exchanging a single word is truly a marvel.
Sweet little Yummers. When we first got him, we would rejoice when he would sit three feet from us. We called it "the long-distance snuggle." Nowadays, he cuddles up right between us on the sofa. We call it "taco time" because he is like the taco filling, wedged in between us.
I woke Yummers up from his afternoon nap for this video, and he was grumpy about it.
Day after day, in countless little ways, I see our pets experiencing the world around them with enthusiasm, fear, caution, playfulness, focus, disinterest... it's really not all that different than a day of my own life. When I see images of livestock animals, I can deduct with total certainty that each of them is a unique being with his or her own piggie preferences or bovine preferences or goosey preferences. I know that to get to know each of them, over a period of time, would unveil a unique and marvelous being inside - a being worth knowing and protecting.
The path of compassion and non-harming is a hard one. It's so tempting to give in to snarky humor or snide remarks. It's so alluring to think nasty and vengeful thoughts toward someone who has slighted me. But it doesn't feel good, and it doesn't sit well with me afterwards in my heart. I might struggle in those arenas still, but veganism seems like a clear and obvious (and tasty) way that I can reduce the circles of harm originating with me. In my heart, I have constant faith in the merit and worth of all animal lives, including people, and of the universal desire in all beings for love and safety and learning and nourishment and connection. And that is really what inspires my veganism.