I have a question…why do people who are not vegan have to go out of their way to start conversations about the treatment of animals? Perhaps it’s guilt and they just want to try to justify doing what they know is inherently wrong. Perhaps they are in denial or they simply don’t want to see the truth because it would mean that they would have to change something in their comfortable lives and that would be really inconvenient…gosh, poor them.
I was having lunch with some friends today. Friends who I consider to be well educated and worldly wise, well-travelled, well-versed in current affairs and who I thought were mature and sensitive. I was wrong.
I’m used to people ordering meat when I eat out with them and I’m used to them apologising to me for it (like it’s me they need to apologise to), these friends are no different. I never comment, I never tell them what to order (or what not to order), I try to be neutral and just do my own thing and mind my own business and let them do their thing. I go out to have a good time, not to argue, I think there’s generally a time and a place to air your views – and I don’t see the point in starting arguments with your friends (especially when you already know each other’s beliefs). I also don’t see the point in deliberately choosing a topic that you know someone in the group has such strong feelings about and then everyone else at the table ganging up on them…
So, I was left quite shocked (and questioning who these people are that I call friends), when at lunch today one of them informed me that after watching a segment about dairy cows on a TV show, that the cows live happy, healthy little lives with their friends. Yes, I was gobsmacked (and not just by the acknowledgement that cows have a social structure and can have friends). I tried to remain calm and I pointed out that dairy cows do not in fact live happy, healthly lives with their friends. I pointed out that their babies are constantly taken away from them and perhaps having friends was at least of some comfort. The response I got was – “well, those little calves end up as veal on my plate, yum” – yes, not the response I expected from a well-educated (and frankly old enough to know better) ‘friend’. I tried to inform this friend of some of the facts of the dairy industry, but apparently the information she saw on the tv segment (on an agricultural show – not biassed at all) was all she needed to know and all she would believe.
The conversation then went on to greyhounds (and here the comments were along the lines of “how can you possibly just end a whole industry” and “well, that’s what the dogs are bred for, they attack things in the wild, so it’s natural behaviour”, this, in response to the live baiting investigations that have been going on and used to support “that greyhounds are vicious and that’s just what they do”…hmm.
Horse-racing was next and the topic there was how “well” the horses are treated and what “good” lives they lead with the “best” of everything. Honestly, the ignorance at that table was palpable.
Shortly after the conversation, I left. I didn’t want to cause a scene, I wanted to calmly shed light on the real issues at play and put an end to some of the ridiculous stories that people are talking themselves into. I did my best to defend the animals and when the conversation was over, I got the hell out of there.
I’m now left wondering why my ‘friends’ would bring up the topic, knowing that it would upset me. I’m also left wondering why I always avoid the topic because I know that we all have different views and I don’t want to cause an argument. If they can bring it up, why do I feel the need to keep quiet?
I understand the value in having friends with different interests, different beliefs and from different cultures. I know that that’s how we learn and grow and how we build an understanding of each other, I don’t expect to agree on everything all the time. I also don’t expect to be attacked by my friends for my beliefs. What I’m left wondering after lunch today is, am I doing the animals a disservice all the time by deliberately avoiding the topic so that I don’t cause arguments…or am I simply friends with the wrong people?