I believe that everyone who has become, or remained, vegan for the animals has confronted this cognitive dissonance at least once. We’ve read a comment on our social feeds, heard a stranger declare it, or have even heard it uttered by a close friend or family member…
“I really hate people who are cruel to animals!”
Yet, they’re not vegan!
How dare they declare their love for “some” animals and eat others?! <– This being the usual reaction from a vegan who has seen the light, so to speak. However, enlightenment often comes with a bit of amnesia. How quickly we forget that, a lot of us, ate animals for a better part of our lives. We too had difficulty making the connection, that later became all too obvious. The connection between what we ate and the animal that gave their life for it. The connection between the animals we chose to care for as pets and those slaughtered on our plates. The connection between the wild animals we felt determined to save through donations and those we easily funded to be slaughtered daily.
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t point out this obvious disconnect when a non-vegan declares their love for animals. Rather, we should take care in how we point it out. Helping someone notice their dissonance can be done with empathy. With kindness. We do this by coming from a place of “I” instead of “You”. We do this by remembering that we too rationalized our choices to love our dogs and cats but eat fried chicken and hamburgers. We all grew up with the idea that this is just the way things are, it’s the way things should be, it’s part of being human. Then, something shifted. Something or someone, with kindness and without accusations, helped us see the disconnect. Even if just for a brief moment, we had insight about our ability for compassion towards other beings and how this was in opposition to our daily choices. After this small insight, we may have tried to rationalize it away again, as our defense mechanisms reared their ugly heads. But, it’s like that saying “once something is seen, it can’t be unseen. Once something is heard, it can’t be unheard.” It stays with us in the back of our minds until we finally can’t deny it any longer. We fess up. We end the excuses. We decide to change.
However, this can’t happen when you just lay blame on others and offend because they haven’t reached the insight you have. They may never. But, they definitely won’t listen if you come from a place of anger and accusations. People stop listening when that’s all you have to say. They’re too busy gearing up for a combat of words than actually, truly, listening to your message. So stop. Remember how clueless you were once. Remember all those times you argued against the very things that you fight for now. Come from a place of understanding and kindness. Then, they’ll listen and maybe change will follow.
I believe that everyone who has become, or remained, vegan for the animals has confronted this cognitive dissonance at least once. In themselves.