All ethical-basis vegans have a meaningful story about becoming vegan. I’m no different. For me, I was overcome by “The Rooster Effect.”
My husband Lynn became a vegan after watching vegucated. I watched it with him too, but by the time the cruelty stuff came, I couldn’t handle it… I stopped watching. I’m no stranger to avoidance when it comes to many things, I’ve trained myself over 30 years to avoid a lot of triggers – I have a dissociative trauma disorder. So it was “this will upset me, not watching!” This is a comfortable, easy, standard thing for me to do.
But from the moment he watched it, Lynn was a sold-out vegan. Over the next year he went through all the things new vegans go through, and I was really happy for him. I realized that he had found something he was so passionate about, that he was willing to do something about it, and I was proud of him. He was gentle with me. I realize now that it was hard for him, but he did not proselytize me… a testament to his love for me. He blocked the “Jennie eats meat” thing out for the sake of our relationship, and because he didn’t want to put additional stress on my psyche. He does most of the cooking – and I learned to buy the right foods, but I still ate the same-old, same-old when I was out and about.
He couldn’t always keep it in, and he occasionally let loose with a few factoids. And as it turned out, it didn’t take much for my brain to connect the dots, and my legendary black-and-white thinking to start turning the wheels in my brain that would start flipping switches about what I could no longer bring myself to do.
One night he was upset about something. I pushed him to tell me, and finally he said that he had seen a picture of a cow on the internet, and it said “I scream for your ice cream,” and it was really bothering him. It bothered me too. Within days, I stopped eating dairy. Dairy was a trigger now – and as previously mentioned, I have the practical equivalent of a Ph.D. in Trigger Avoidance. Still, “I scream for your ice cream” haunted me. And I didn’t even see the picture!
I’m not sure how the roosters came up. Maybe Lynn saw how I reacted to the ice cream thing and, consciously or unconsciously, found the right time to tell me about it. It was short and to the point, I think I asked if eggs were really that bad to eat. Well I asked, and he had an answer.
Male chickens are like the “Lost Boys” of Mormon Fundamentalist fame. He simply told me the truth, every year as billions of chickens are born, scores of people sit in rooms and check all the little fuzzballs to find if they are male or female. The boys are unceremoniously placed on a wire apparatus, drenched with water, and mass-electrocuted. I’m a pretty smart chick so I put it together fast: girl chickens can make eggs, then be slaughtered for the meat and other marketable parts. Boys just don’t have that egg ability so in the cutting-edge, high tech world of factory farming, it’s more cost-effective to have more baby chickens and get rid of the boys the minute they’re born.
A few days later I was driving home from therapy and thought about stopping for an omelet. The second this crossed my mind, my mind said “NO.” I thought, I’m not eating any more chicken either, I just can’t. As I passed by the restaurant continuing home… LOGIC reigned down on me like the buckets of water that rain down on those sweet fuzzballs before they are zapped. Why eat pork but not chickens? What about beef? Can I put the chicken ahead of those, or any other animal – as being more worthy of my compassion? No. That wouldn’t be right. A new baby vegan was born.
For that year that Lynn was vegan and I was not, I knew deep inside that if I looked, I would have to act. I felt I didn’t have the time or mental energy to do this big, HUGE, lifestyle change right now, it would be soooo hard. As soon as I had time and energy, I would… because I knew I should. But for a year I avoided thinking about it.
I have never been so wrong.
Becoming vegan was one of the most mentally liberating, joy inducing acts I have ever experienced. It wasn’t hard… not one bit. I never suffered or felt like I deprived myself of a single thing. In fact, I got many, many wonderful things from it. It absolutely amazed me… all the good things that came because of it. It’s been awhile now but if I think about it, it still amazes me. But hey, I could write a whole post on that.
A wise man once said, “know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”