Over time I've come to be relaxed about my own changing perspective of animal rights. I feel good about not living by destroying other living creatures. While it was secondary to my original intent of health improvement I've noticed a sense of calm and peace about eating a plant based diet. I've come to feel there is a vibration created by our actions or intent. When we consume food that was created through violence it creates stress within us. It's a feeling I've been coming to realize for a while now as I've considered that my personal sense of peace has improved in part because of my diet choice.
Either way my feelings about eating animals don't colour my opinions on the ethics of people that do choose to have meat as part of their diet. It seems foolish and arrogant to judge the actions of people when I'm only 3 years removed from that choice myself. In particular I've come to feel that there are different types of meat eaters, those that buy animals for consumption served to them cooked, packaged or on a styrofoam platter and those that choose to hunt and fish for themselves. My feeling is that those that are hunters at the very least understand that they are taking a life and do the work to get their food. Aside from trophy hunters people that kill their own food I theorize are likely more respectful of animals than those that shop for it.
But the struggle for ethical understanding isn't always that clear cut for me. Perhaps I'm still evolving, but when actually faced with hunting as an act I can't help but find it distasteful. I have friends that hunt that I respect very much. I know they feel they honour the animal and they actually eat what they kill. Recently though while waiting in line for a ferry I saw a hunting vehicle that was gathering quite a crowd of interested people. Strapped to a quad was a very large set of antlers and a small group of hunters in camouflage were standing admiring their trophy. They were counting the points on the antlers and measuring it, smoking cigarettes and laughing. People walked by admiring their kill, stopped to talk with them which created obvious pride as they swelled their large bellies and boasted of how they shot this animal.
Now this vehicle had two quads, a camper and several men with it. They had all the advantages modern men might have when tracking a wild animal with a modern rifle. I'm sure they spent the day telling dirty jokes, smoking, drinking and laughing. I wanted to relate to them, and hold firm on my opinion that since they "earned" their food they were somehow more admirable than the oblivious person shopping for meat in a store without ever facing the kill. But I can't. For some reason all I can think about is what a shame it is that a living creature was killed to satisfy recreation. We don't need meat to live or thrive and yet we kill anyway and to make it worse we boast about it. We save the trophies of our kill, hang it on our walls or have it stuffed.
I'm partly worried that my carnal instinct has left me. That there is some truth to the idea that as a vegan I've become soft and weak. But maybe looking at the world through a new lens, evolving as a human in considering how I can live and thrive is actually the courageous route. It's certainly the unpopular one. I read today that 2% of the USA are vegan and 5% vegetarian which is a large increase from previous surveyed numbers (whatever they were) and that's encouraging. Certainly for our environment and health but also for our evolving social mores.
It's still a struggle though. It's hard to be different and to feel objection to action that is the norm in your society. I'm not sure if it ever gets comfortable, especially if you feel others are essentially good people with good intention and yet their actions give you pause. In the end I can relate it to another recent experience. I was getting my eyes checked yesterday and chatting with the optometrist about these recent glasses announced that allowed colourblind people to see colour. I'm colourblind and was fascinated when he told me he could give me the same experience right in the examination room. He had me look at a test swatch where colourblind people could not read numbers within the dots and then put a red lens over my eye and asked me to look again. Right there in front of me were the numbers that were previously invisible. I realized that with one change I could see the world exactly how others see it with shades of red and green and yet I don't really want to. My perspective isn't right or wrong, it's just different and I don't need to see just like everyone else. My way is just fine.