Tag Archives: Animal Companions

Our Contrary Relationship with Animals Continues

One inescapable reality of being vegan are the constant examples and reminders of how some animals matter in our world, and others don’t. From sitting at a table with meat-eaters who speak of love for their pets while they chew on the flesh of a cow, to people walking their dogs while wearing a coat with fur trim from a coyote, to coworkers with calendars of cute animals hanging at their cubicle as they tell me about the barbecued pig ribs they ate over the weekend, this contradiction is not something most people even realize is happening but it happens ALL of the time.

As children, some of the first words, sounds, and pictures we learn to identify are farm animals: cow, pig, chicken, turkey, sheep. Yet those same animals are some of the first we’re given to eat, normalized by such phrasings as, “It’s good for you”, “It’s tradition”, or, if you were raised in a born-again Christian home as I was, “God gave us dominion over the animals”, as if being granted authority means never questioning how we’re actually using it. By the time we reach adulthood, farm animals have long since ceased to even be animals; they are simply thought of as food. Continue reading

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Into the Great Wide Open

Since going vegan in 2013, my view of animals has changed so much. I used to be that person who thought of animals as “just animals” and that eating cows, pigs, and chickens were “just the way things are”, never giving them any thought beyond that.

In June of this year, Julian and I adopted our first dog, something I know I would never have done had I not been vegan. Even the animals we are conditioned to love and care for and not eat, I viewed as more of a nuisance or obligation; I didn’t really “get” the love that people had for their pets and I certainly didn’t see those pets as individuals or companions, mainly because I’d never experienced it before. We had a dog when I was about 4 or 5 who was returned to the shelter when she tore the kitchen curtains up. We had a cat when I was in grade school who was given away when we moved cities. This attitude of animals being disposable if they inconvenienced us continued when my brother was old enough to get a dog (I don’t know what happened to his dog because I had moved out of the house by then. All I know is the dog did not stay long). By the time I was on my own, I knew I never wanted pets, which, on one hand was good because I still viewed animals as expendable but it was also – to use an expression I’ve learned from therapy – a missed experience. Had I developed a better understanding of animals and a proper empathy toward them, I could have provided a loving home to one for many years. Continue reading

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Saving Us and Them

If you read the news regularly, I’m sure you’ve come across the story of the cat in Bakersfield, California who chased off a dog that had bitten a 4-year old boy while he was playing outside.  The cat, Tara, is the family cat of Jeremy (the boy) and his parents.  The dog’s name is never mentioned in any article I could find.  He simply remains “the dog” in the same way “the perpetrator” or “the killer” would be referenced in a human crime story. Continue reading

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Pet vs. Companion

One of the first things I learned as a new vegan is that the preferred term for a household pet is “companion animal” rather than “pet”. The reason being is that the word “pet” implies ownership and ownership implies three things: possession, hierarchy and property, with property being an inanimate object; a thing. Continue reading

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