I've been trying to trace, lately, the origins of Me. Take the veganism for instance--where does that originate? I loved animals as a child, but don't most kids? I watch a reality show about this family with sextuplets and there's one boy who is ALL about the animals. He knows all their names, and teaches them to his brothers and sisters. How does that happen? I mean, this kid's growing up in the same environment as the others.
Is that genetic? Was I born with the Crazy About Animals gene? You'd think we'd have been weeded out thousands of years ago when we refused to eat meat. Maybe that's why I have a genetic *defect* that retains too much iron--it's most prevalent among Celtic people, and you know where veganism started... Britain! ;-) Then again, given a different environment, C.A.A. gene could also make you turn into a hunter.
I didn't have any baby dollies as a child, it had to be Barbies or stuffed animals. I still own my first stuffies: Tiger and Bunbun. Movies like The Fox and the Hounds TORE me up--I don't think I've ever seen it since (though I did have the sheets.) As an adult I absolutely refuse to watch animal movies (I don't care that they're "just actors!" I don't approve of animal acting anyway.) People often ask if I feel healthier since becoming vegetarian/vegan. No--I never noticed a difference. I didn't do it for health reasons, and I don't believe it's "the natural way" for humans to eat, whatever that means. I just felt that, if I'm going to be such an animal sap that I can't even watch The Bear, then it's hypocritical to partake in their suffering.
Our cat Ernie slept in my bed since I was little. We shared the same favourite blanket--Greenie, the blanket my mother and I picked out for daycare. Ernie used to suck on it. (I still have Greenie around here somewhere, since I couldn't keep Ernie forever.) The last summer Ernie was alive I was painting our house, and he would find the closest bit of shade in the yard, to where I was working; and when I moved up onto the verandah roof, he went indoors, went upstairs to a bedroom, and sat in the window nearest where I was working. Did Ernie make me a vegan?
Maybe there are other factors that have to be present to get us from Animal Loving Child to Vegan. I have very moral parents. My mother taught me to make the connection between my morals and my purchasing power. I think I internalized the idea of integrity from my father--that you have to decide what your core values are, and then attempt to bring the rest of your life into line with it.
1. Animalness in the genes. I also have a rock solid constitution--I can digest anything.
2. there always being a cat or two in the house (probably my mother's influence)
3. one of those cats turning out to be The Great Ernie (chance or Divine Providence--you pick ;-) )
4. the Parental Moral Lessons
5. Church (father's influence) where for 7 years I kept the Jewish food laws (more mental connections between morality and how you live your practical life)
6. a presentation on cattle auctions in a university ethics course
--> here we've reached vegetarianism, with vegan as the long term goal
(About 10-12 years now.)
7. working with Vegan Boy the Tom Cruise Lookalike at work, who was the personal touch I needed to push me over the line
(About 6 years now.)
Hmm. Interesting. Join us next time for "My Attraction to the 1920s." Did it start with Once Upon a Time in America? Or Johnny Dangerously? Find out in the next exciting episode!