My daughter Louise is a vegan. She became a vegan at age 17 when she realized in the deepest part of her being, to her utter disgust and horror, that she was eating animals. Real, beautiful, flesh and blood, intelligent, sentient creatures that felt pain and joy. There was no announcement, no teenaged declaration of independence. There was only a realization that this was what she had to do.
When Louise was little, the farm next door to us had a herd of Charolais cattle. Charolais cattle are beautiful, white cows that are raised for beef. Humans eat them. They used to come up to the fence by our house and stick their beautiful heads over the fence and slobber green kisses on our hands and arms. Cow tongues feel like the roughest sandpaper covered with a moist layer that smells like freshly mown grass. Getting kissed by a cow is wonderful thing. On late summer nights, we would see the empty transport trucks go to the farm. We would hear cows bellowing in the darkness and know that the babies were being loaded up to be sent to some feedlot somewhere to be fattened for slaughter. We sat on our deck and listen to the cows crying for their babies. For a solid week after, the cows that came to our fence looked desperate and “talked” a lot more than usual, almost as if they hoped their calves would hear them and come back.
Louise is one of the most compassionate people I have ever met. She won’t eat meat, dairy or anything else that comes from an animal. She won’t wear leather. She has encouraged her friends to boycott companies (like KFC and the Ringling Brothers circus) that have records of abusing animals. She will defend any living creature that is not being given a fair chance to live a happy life. She has stuck her neck out for humans and animals, regardless of the potential for ridicule or criticism. And I back her 100%, because she is thinking and acting and living her truth.
What is a vegan? A vegan is a person who will not consume animals in any form. A vegan is a person who has compassion toward all living creatures. A vegan is my brilliant, loving daughter. Thank you, Louise, for allowing me to see that living outside the box is sometimes the right thing to do.