No doubt, we are all evolving. The things we thought and believed in our 20’s are not the things we adhere to in our 30’s, 40’s and beyond. The philosophies we create in order to make sense of our lives’ events are exchanged as more of the picture is revealed.
My earliest memory is that of standing next to my granddad as he drowned our sheepdog’s new born puppies, one by one, in a bucket of water. I was around two years old. My conscience was not yet awake and so I see myself as the dispassionate observer of the whole proceedings.
I berate myself for being a late bloomer. I have always loved animals but I was 32 years old before I realised that meant that I couldn’t eat them anymore. At that point I became a vegetarian, but it was many years later before I realised just how crucial it was to be a vegan.
I have rescued dogs and cats throughout most of my adult life. Latterly, when living in New Mexico, a chance encounter lead to the rescue of 40 dogs from a puppy farm that was closing down. Most of them were to be euthanized. The animals kept me in America for many more years than I would have liked. When the number got down to a reasonable level (15 dogs and 2 cats) my husband and I brought them all back home to the UK. The newspapers got hold of our story and portrayed us as eccentric spendthrifts. The reality was that we arrived here penniless and indebted to the family members who helped us, but to me there was no other choice. It was unconscionable to break the hearts of those creatures who had learned to trust me.
It would seem that the rest of my life has been the redemption of that two year old who stood wordlessly beside her granddad and did nothing.
We evolve individually and also collectively. In certain parts of the world, at least, human conscience has become more sensitive to the suffering of humans and animals. We also care more about vital resource depletion, habitat loss, and try to prevent the total disappearance of endangered species. An epidemic of charitable and not-for-profit organisations that promote these and other numerous worthy causes has spread throughout society.
Cruelty has become more abhorrent to us. Up until its abolition in 1870, perceived traitors were hung, drawn and quartered and the public turned out to watch this “justice” being exacted. Capital punishment was abolished in this country in 1965; hopefully because the thought of it had become increasingly intolerable to an evolving sector of people.
The UK now has CCTV cameras in all slaughterhouses by law. Even though we still eat meat, we want to believe that the helpless creatures who are sacrificed to that end suffer as little as possible.
When I told one of my non-veggie friends about my aspiration to see Scotland lead the way as the first vegan nation, her comment was, “well, I don’t think it’s going to happen in your lifetime”. I accept that this could well be true. On the other hand, I recall other significant and previously resisted changes that have happened in my lifetime. Growing up, people smoked everywhere: the upper deck of the bus, in the bank, the office, the house around babies, and of course what was the point of going to the pub if you couldn’t have a fag with your pint? A child born after 2007 has never seen this. And we the public have accepted it as the norm and adjusted accordingly.
Once day, the killing and eating of animals and the natural products of their bodies will be banned. And I will love that day.