How It All Began
Saturday morning, when I opened up Facebook, right at the top of my news feed I saw that a video was posted in a public Facebook group I belong to called Compassionate Anarchy with the following message:
“Can you find the time to watch this? Please?”
Hey, why not? It’s only six minutes long and I’m open minded. I figured I could squeeze in a quick video before getting started on my work for the day.
Maybe before we go any further, you should check it out too, just to bring you up to speed.
I also noted in the description under the video it said (among other things):
The hardest part about being Vegan is… trying to understand why otherwise good and caring people continue to participate in needless violence…
—The Vegan Activist
That bit really got my attention. I mean, I would never willfully participate in needless violence.
Besides that, the meat, eggs, and dairy I consume and buy for my family are sustainably sourced and humanely treated. That’s the paleo and primal way. They’re raised without added hormones or antibiotics, cage-free, free-range, or backyard raised by local farmers whenever possible, and of course, they are organic.
And after the livestock have lived out their full, happy, healthy lives, they are butchered in the most humane way possible.
As I sipped my coffee and proceeded to watch the video, that statement about trying to understand why otherwise good and caring people continue to participate in needless violence turned over and over in my head.
I mean, I really try to be a good and caring person. I’m against violence and coercion. I believe in peace.
I love animals, and take excellent care of my own furry friends. I have even fostered and adopted many animals, and helped find fur-ever homes for others. I’ve fed and cared for strays, and in some cases taken them in.
I always search Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database before buying beauty products to make sure they’re safe for me and cruelty-free for animals.
My typical diet has been kind of a blend of paleo and primal, but some days I eat entirely vegetarian. Sometimes I do Meatless Mondays for my family’s dinnertime meal. I care about food being sustainably sourced, as well as the ethical treatment of farm animals, and I participate in—and advocate for—ethical and local consumerism. In fact, I’ve written a lot about ethical consumerism. I have an entire section on my blog dedicated to it because it’s something I’m passionate about. I care about farm animals being humanely raised and I want to do my part as a consumer to ensure that animals are treated well and that my dollars are spent on positive things.
I also grow a lot of my own organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs for organic food for my family, and I had a pretty awesome plan to incorporate backyard laying hens into it so that my family and I would have fresh eggs from well-kept healthy, happy chickens. This idea delighted me and I have been anxious to put my plan into action as soon as possible! My backyard chickens would be living the sweet life!
The Thoughtful Discussion That Ensued in The Comments Section, and Led Me Toward The Light
Check out this discussion that took place in the comments under the video that started it all.
After reading the discussion above, I found this article called, Do Chickens Mourn the Loss of Their Eggs? at a blog called Gentle World. (The name of the blog alone already had a hold on my heartstrings.) I had a pretty good idea what the article would say. I knew I would be confronted with an uncomfortable truth. I knew I wouldn’t like what I’d find, and that it might reveal something to me about myself that might be painful to confront.
True to my truth-seeker soul, I trudged on ahead and read the article.
“Although today’s egg-laying hens are the descendants of the Red Jungle Fowl (Gallus gallus) which laid around 60 small eggs a year, most modern domestic hens have been bred to lay over 300 large eggs a year.
If free to behave “naturally,” most chickens will lay the number of eggs they desire for a proper nest and then stop producing more eggs until her chicks are old enough to fend for themselves. The time before her eggs hatch, while she sits on her nest warming and protecting her eggs, is called the “brooding” stage.
If a chicken’s eggs are removed on a regular basis, she will continue to lay, in a futile attempt to follow her instincts and form a proper brood. In fact, a chicken’s nesting instincts are so strong that they will continue to try to build a brood whether or not there is a rooster present to fertilize their eggs.*
* It is believed that chickens cannot tell which eggs have been successfully fertilized.”
—Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati for Gentle World, Do Chickens Mourn the Loss of Their Eggs?
I never knew that chickens naturally—when allowed to live free of coercion—actually plan their families and then stop producing eggs. I didn’t know that removing a chicken’s unfertilized egg was stressful to the chicken or unhealthy for her quality of life. I never thought about her eggs being hers. I didn’t realize chickens keep laying eggs that we keep stealing because they’re trying futilely to have the family they desire.
“On this particular morning I was helping trim back some lavender on a farm I was volunteering at. My host and I were well into chopping back the lavender when we suddenly heard an agitated clucking below us. As we moved back one of the bushes we discovered a large black hen who had started a nest. She was attempting to shield her brood from the intruders hovering above her, but this hen was not a rescue. She had been brought onto the farm to produce eggs, and even though she had been clever enough to attempt a nest away from the chicken cage, her eggs were not considered her own.
How we got her to move off her nest is a bit foggy in my memory, but I believe I distracted her while my partner in crime quickly picked her up. And then I snatched her eggs out from under her. I quickly placed the eggs in the fridge for the farm staff to take home, as we didn’t think she had been sitting on the nest long enough for chicks to form.
When I went back outside I found the black hen frantically weaving in and out of the lavender, calling to her fellow chickens, some of whom ran over to her aid as she continued searching for her missing eggs. I tried to push my guilt aside and continue on my day. But when we returned for lunch, hours later, she was still there moving slowly in and out of the lavender and muttering to herself as she searched in vain.
I voiced my guilt to my host and we debated about whether we should put the eggs back. Finally it was decided it was too late, the eggs had been cold too long and we had to let it be.
Each egg laid had in some way drained her body of calcium and other essential nutrients*, unnecessarily shortening her life to feed her captors. And now, no matter how long her small sad eyes searched, all her work was lost.
* Some chickens (if they have not been de-beaked) will eat their own unfertilized eggs if the egg is broken, if they are under stress, to replenish nutrients lost from laying (if they are lacking nutrients), or if there is not enough nest space.”
—Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati for Gentle World, Do Chickens Mourn the Loss of Their Eggs?
Libertarians, individualists, voluntaryists, and peaceful anarchists are big on property rights. After all, the philosophy of liberty is that you own your life, your liberty, and your property. You also own the product of your labor, and no one else can lay claim over any of these things because they belong to you and that would be stealing.
Voluntaryists, in particular, believe that all interactions should be voluntary and free of coercion.
And let’s not forget the Non-Aggression Principle that libertarians, voluntaryists and peaceful anarchists adhere to.
As advocates for property rights, freedom, and against violence, oppression, and coercion, shouldn’t libertarians, individualists, voluntaryists, peaceful anarchists, and anyone who believes in non-violence consider applying the Non-Aggression Principle to the treatment of farm animals too?
Of course we should. It’s our job to be the change. It’s our job to show others the better way by living it rather than just by talking about it.
We need to confront our darkness where it hides, and carefully scrutinize it. If what we say we believe doesn’t add up with the way we are actually living our lives—and teaching our children by example—then we need to re-evaluate how far we’ve really come as enlightened thinkers and truth seekers.
Being a truth seeker sometimes takes you places you never thought you’d go. I have experienced this phenomenon many times, but I certainly never thought it would take me down the road to veganism.
Though truth-seeking can be a rough and uncomfortable ride, it’s always worth it.
And you get to meet some pretty cool fellow truth seekers along the way.
It’s always nice to make new friends. 🙂
Shining A Bright Light Into All My Dark Corners
Watching that video and reading through the discussion in the comments beneath it prompted me to do further research. I watched several videos over the weekend and read many compelling articles about veganism.
I also learned some uncomfortable truths about myself, how far I’ve come, and how far I have yet to go.
I will use this new information, and this new perspective to grow. I will be a good example for my children and others. I will do my best to live in greater alignment with my values and my convictions as a libertarian, and as an animal lover.
I didn’t realize that I was being willfully ignorant in this area of my life.
I never wanted to watch vegan videos or PETA videos because somewhere deep down I think I knew that I would be faced with an uncomfortable truth about myself. And, boy, I was right.
I am so sorry.
I was so wrong.
I will do better from now on.
I hereby commit to living out my compassion for animals, and for the good and caring people who—like me—consider themselves to be ethical animal lovers, and are blissfully unaware of their willful ignorance.
It starts with me and how I choose to live my life, and the example I lead for my children and others I interact with.
It’s time for a change. A change towards a better, more peaceful world, not only for us humans, but also for non-human species.
I won’t ask anyone else to go Vegan. Right now I’m just going to focus on finding my own way. I have a lot to learn. I committed to go Vegan for a week, but each day I feel more and more compelled to dive in and commit all the way. So that’s what I’m going to do. There’s no turning back now. I can’t un-see what I’ve seen. My heart’s changed.
This is uncharted territory for me, but it’s my choice because I believe it’s what I should do.
“We need to realize, like now, it is not about politics. It’s about the change that we can make in the spheres of life that we can control, which is mostly just ourselves.”
If any of you have any great vegan resources you can send my way, please share them with me in the comments. I’ll take all the help I can get. 🙂
I’m not going to push veganism on my family. I want them to ask their own questions in their own time, if they want to. I want them to seek their own truth, and live according to their values and wants and needs (even if they’re different from my own). If my children or my husband have questions about why I’m going Vegan, I will answer them with humility and honesty. I will let them know that I’m learning as I go, but I’m following my heart, and that this is what I believe is right for me.
This is my libertarian lifestyle. And it’s a work in progress.
Thanks for reading.
Peaceful ∙ Connected ∙ Holistic ∙ Ecological ∙ Compassionate
Live free with me.