My love for animals runs deep. It starts from my heart and pumps through my veins. I’ve been this way since I can remember. When I was a little girl, I recall making my parents pull over on the side of the road while driving on Long Island so I could see the horses. I stared in awe through the wood fence at the beautiful creatures for what seemed like forever in my young mind. In the second grade I was recognized as the star student one month and had to write a bio on myself, which included that my wish was to have a pet horse one day. I still remember the name of the horse I rode when vacationing in Mountak in the fifth grade – Cinnamon – and I even journaled about this gorgeous horse. You could say I was a little obsessed with horses at one point in time. But it was all animals that I loved (and still love today)…
As a young child, I wrote children’s stories about bunny rabbits with illustrations and all. I remember curling up to read with my dad when I was little, always wanting him to tell me the story of Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present. I begged my parents for any kind of pet – rabbits, dogs, cats – so much in fact that my parents took me to the local library and we checked out books on how to care for these animals. They thought I’d lose steam after reading about the work that goes into it, but it just fueled my fire. We had fish, but that wasn’t enough for me. I wanted every possible animal a child could think of. Much to my mother’s dismay, I had the privilege of taking home the class hamster in the fourth grade for a weekend. I cared for that furry creature like it was my own, but I think my mom was happy to see it go back to the school.
My grandparents take the prize for getting us the craziest pet, if you can call it that. One day we arrived home to find a medium-sized brown package on our doorstep with cautionary words written all over it. ‘What could it be?’ my sisters and I asked aloud. We unwrapped the box in a frenzy (picture Ralphie in A Christmas Story) and lo and behold, it was a lobster farm! I wish I could have snapped a picture of my mother’s face when we opened the box. She had every reason to panic, too. Unfortunately the nine lobsters we received were cannibalistic and crawled into their neighbor’s compartment and ate each other. My dad stepped on one in the middle of the night, and that was the end of the remaining lobsters.
After that fiasco, I was finally allowed to have two cats that were sisters – M&M and Calico (pictured below; photos courtesy of my sister Liz). The rest of my family wound up loving them as much as I did. My sister Liz and I would treat them like little dolls and dress them up and brush them. They were big girls, but it was all love. I still look for them at the top of my parents’ stairs when I go home to visit.
When I became vegan this year, I finally felt complete. These animals are my friends so why would I want to eat them or, better yet, abuse them for their milk? I’ve always leaned toward being a vegan growing up, and there were the obvious signs. Running into the women’s bathroom at my grandmother’s birthday dinner, crying hysterically because the shrimp on my dinner plate had their heads attached is definitely a telling tale that I shouldn’t have been eating meat. Yet, I did eat animals…for a long time, too. I’m embarrassed to say that it took me this long to become vegan and to finally connect the dots. All of the animals – not just the horses, cats and dogs – deserve to live.
Many people believe that it’s OK to eat humanely raised animals and they feel that our bodies need meat, however there is research out there that dispels this myth. With this evidence, no one should feel the need to kill animals for their own survival – it’s just not true.
So, I urge you to not wait as long as I did. Don’t wait for a health scare in the family to eliminate meat from your diet. Do what flows from your heart and into your veins – that is the true meaning of loving the animals.
Do you (or did you) have a pet or a special animal in your life? I’d love to hear about it – please share your story in the comments below.