Today’s Q&A covers topics like the vegan stance on euthanizing companion animals, how to deal with the difficulty of family and friends who continue to eat animals, some questions about me, and more!
In today’s vegan Q&A, we’ll be talking about the euthanasia of companion animals, the struggle of being around family members and loved ones who still have not made the connection and remain non-vegan, and more! This is the first Q&A I’ve done in some time and I hope to do more of these in the future because I think that it’s important to be able to answer your questions as directly as I can. [And in a little bit faster method than my highly research videos which I will continue to do as well.] [tweet this Q&A out!] So, today we’re going to kick it off with some important issues. First I thought I’d cover a basic question that I get a lot and I did talk about this in my very first Q & A ever but I might as well say it again.
Q: When and how did I become vegan?
A: The story is basically that when I was four years old I started to refuse to eat meat or anything I could tell had once been alive, or come from an animal. So, I don’t consciously remember, but that’s what my mother tells me. And as I grew up more, and started to learn more I became more conscious of it, eliminating dairy and eggs as well, but I don’t have a hard and fast date for you. I told this story before, but when other kids my age were going door-to-door selling Girl Scout cookies I was going door-to-door educating about the poaching of mountain gorillas in Africa and trying to raise money for the Dian Fossey Foundation. So that’s the kind of kid I was.
Q: How old am I?
A: I am 31
Q: What’s my stance on euthanasia? Is it vegan? [tweet this Q&A]
A: Well I certainly can’t tell you what to do in your own situation and I’m definitely never in the place to tell someone when it’s the right time. But personally I believe that euthanasia can be a very merciful act, and that it can be a demonstration of compassion for those that you love. Because there are times where the quality of life is so horrific and all that’s left is suffering, and I think that it can be such a loving act. But that does not mean that it’s easy or ever a decision that you can make lightly. I think it’s something that only you can know with you know spending time with your loved one and talking to him. And I know animals aren’t going to talk back to us the way that we’re accustomed too, but you’ll know your companion better than anyone else. I do think that it can be an act of mercy, and very much in line with vegan ideals and principles, but it’s up to, it’s up to each individual situation.
Q: A lot of people asked for advice on how to deal with non-vegans (especially family members) as a vegan. [tweet this Q&A]
A: It can be really difficult to be around especially if the family members aren’t supportive of you. Because I think, and I read this in a lot of your comments…some people said they lost respect for for their non-vegan friends and family, or they feel frustration, or aggression even towards them, anger because they’re just not “getting it” and they’re continuing to consume the bodies of of innocent animals–and you know I can totally identify with that. It is really difficult to see your loved ones do that because number one, once you have your eyes open it seems so obvious. You want the people you love to also live lives of compassion. It is difficult and I want to acknowledge that. Something that I think can be helpful, at least for your own mental health and sense of grounding, is to establish some boundaries.
It’s always good to keep spreading the message...to keep speaking up to be a living example for veganism. But you’re going to have friends and family who just aren’t, they’re just not going to make the change right now, and they might never make the change. You can continue to talk to them about it and be an advocate, but there sometimes is a point where you have to kind of guard yourself because if you’re trying, and you’re trying, and you’re trying, and you’re just doing everything you can to make them see…nobody is going to be forced into veganism. It doesn’t work that way. They have to come to it on their own and all that you can do is inform.
And for your own sanity sometimes it might just be, you know, spending time with your loved ones in ways that don’t involve food. And that’s true with friends as well. In America at least, a lot of what we do is around food. A lot of our social interactions revolve around food. So it seems a little foreign at first but there are a lot of things that we can do that don’t involve food…it’s just finding ways to relate to them, and talk about things that don’t have to do with veganism. It’s okay to not be talking about it 24/7. If you really want to to keep these relationships and to keep a sense of fulfillment with those relationships, try to find other avenues to connect with them about. But also just keeping, you know protecting yourself because it is heart wrenching, and you can watch my video on what vegans see. And it kind of talks about why it is difficult for vegans a lot of times around non-vegans, and I don’t know if that ever gets better. For me it hasn’t, it kind of gets harder the longer that I’ve been vegan, and the more aware I am. I think creating a safe space for yourself to a certain extent to be able to recharge is really important.
I think the vast majority of people who are non-vegan are not malicious people. They might participate in malicious acts. They’re paying people to commit malicious acts and in that, you know, when we do that, yes we are complicit, but I don’t think the full awareness is there. I think for the vast majority of people, if they were fully aware of what it is that they’re contributing to, and what it is that they’re paying for, they probably wouldn’t do it. It’s just that disconnect and they haven’t “gotten there” and might not get there. All that you can do is focus on your own activism, speaking up for the animals, making the changes that you can, and go find people whose hearts and minds are open. And in the meantime you never know what’s going to be happening with your friends and family. They might be opening up as well. So that was a really long answer but I hope that it’s helpful.
Q: Besides Woodstock, what events are you going to next?
A: Because I’m posting this on Friday I am at the Woodstock fruit festival right now, not like right now while I’m writing this but “right now” while while you’re reading this, that’s where I’m at, unless you’re reading this later. But anyway I’ll be speaking this afternoon which I’m really nervous about it, and I’m probably really nervous about still in real life at the festival right now. But yes, I will also be in Toronto at the end of September. I made a video on that called The Importance of Bearing Witness. I’ll be there for the Toronto Pig Save vigil on September 24, 2015.
If you have more questions feel free to leave them below and I do my best to try to keep track of all the questions, and keep a good log of them. I still have a bunch more from you guys from the first ask that I put out so I’ll be doing more of these videos probably more, at least another one next week. I hope that you enjoyed this Q&A and hope it was helpful, and I do intend to do more of these in the future.
— Emily Moran Barwick