Cow sitting has been in turns wonderful and heartwrenching. My good friend D., a Jersey cow, fell terribly ill from postparturient hypocalcemia on Saturday night 24 hours after calving. She and her calf are both alive and well today but the whole episode, from calving through late-night vet visit, has renewed my passion for a vegan life.
I was strictly vegan as a teen but, in this decade, have had frequent guilty lapses. By "lapses," I mean that I gave up considering myself vegan at all (though I haven't eaten a mammal since 1987). I've tried to justify a more mainstream diet by keeping my own goats and hens, buying milk from neighbors, and consuming locally-grown dairy. That doesn't quite cut it for me anymore, as there are still culls who suffer in this exploitative system. Even the act of buying sexed chicks means that an equal number of male chicks die.
I realized, last week, that the answer is right in front of me and has been since I first read "Diet for a New America" in 1993: don't eat animal products. It's not that hard.
There's no reason to eat food that makes me feel bad, and I want to apologize to my animal friends right now for the lack of willpower that led me to this place. It isn't hard to eat vegan foods that make me feel physically AND morally robust! I'm renewing my vows so that I can look my cow and chicken friends in the eye.
I don't write this to guilt any of you into veganism: I DO write it to publicly air my feelings of guilt, I suppose, but also to encourage each and every one of you to follow your own moral compass. If you are doing something that feels wrong, stop doing it! If you have a truly honest and compelling conviction about what is right—about what is kind—then heed it! If you can see the path of righteous living, then walk it. It may not look anything like the path that I am on, but I can promise you it will be smoother underfoot than the alternative.