Image: Author Craig Cline with a new puppy friend.
Editor’s note: Many people who abstain from eating animal products (also called vegans) do so because they are aware of the violence and trauma that farmed animal experience in the confinement of factory farms, in the transport to slaughter, and in the slaughterhouse. When other people eat animals or animals products, vegans are often reminded of this violence. Below is an open letter to friends and family letting them know how their actions are effecting vegans. Please take a moment to consider Cline’s request.
Dear Friends and Family:
This letter is hard for me to write. And what it contains may be hard for you, as one of my friends or family members, to accept.
But write it I must. This subject has been on my mind for a very long time, and I must ask that you please consider it in yours.
Like most people, I have an innate sense of compassion for animals. Unlike most people, I have extended that compassion to what the majority of them call the “food animals.”
As part of my own personal evolution, I have moved from being a raised-to-be- carnivore to becoming a vegan.
I’ve previously explained that I chose to make that transition not only because I care about reducing the needless pain, suffering, and deaths of animals, but also because my food choices have great bearing on both my personal health and the health of the environment we all share.
So do your food choices, of course. What you choose to eat — or not eat — is totally up to you, though.
I fully understand that most people who choose to continue to eat and drink meat and dairy products don’t readily agree with my own personal choice not to eat or drink them. Historically, they have not agreed enough to make this choice their own.
What people don’t seem to understand though, including my own friends and family members, is that it causes me a certain level of internal grief whenever I witness them actually consuming these “products.”
Because I am acutely aware of the abominable atrocities that underlie them, it pains me greatly — quite literally — to “see” these products being consumed in my presence.
It seems to me that it is not unreasonable for me to ask that my friends and family members have the courtesy to refrain from eating and drinking these products at the relatively infrequent times when we gather together.
The truth is, I cannot easily “stomach” either the sight or the smell of the flesh of something that was once a living, breathing, sentient being; a non-human being, but a being, nonetheless.
So I have to ask you to respect my heartfelt request that you at least not eat dead animal flesh (“meat”) when we’re together; whether it be in restaurants or in our homes.
My preference would be that you “be vegan’ when we’re together. However, I realize that my preference represents a major step for most of you. How about if we “compromise” such that you simply “be vegetarian” whenever food is a part of our get-togethers?
I ask that you please not see my request as unreasonable. It is reasonably possible for people anywhere and anytime to enjoy a snack or a meal together without having to include meat among the food choices.
My position may become harder for you to accept when it comes to traditional meat-based “holiday meals,” such as those at gatherings like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
However, the principle is the same, no matter the occasion. If you choose to include meat as part of it, you would also choose — by association — to exclude me from attending. Whatever you choose is fine with me. I just want you to understand the reasoning behind my writing .
Please know that I have written this message with love and affection for you. I am not intending to condemn your behavior, though I would love to see you change it.
I am only asking you to consider being vegetarian, or better yet vegan, whenever we are enjoying food together.
If you will, we can both enjoy the occasion.
If you won’t, we can’t both enjoy it. And if that’s the case, I just can’t be there for it.
Thanks for your understanding.