Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Origins of HEALTH: The Sprouting of a Future

6. Crisis of Identity
Many vegans and vegetarian I know tell me that they got involved with “animal rights” only after they were first involved with human rights. For me, however, it was the opposite. Sometimes I joke that I came through “the backdoor” of the house of social justice. To me, “the environment” was the most important issue. Despite knowing relatively little about local ecosystems and plants as well as the principles of ecology, I thought I felt a deep connection and obligation toward this Other. Again, to me, all humans were equivalent to one another.

In the winter of 2004, the beginning of my second semester, a student would return to Beloit from her semester abroad and set my down a new path in life. Her name was Annie, a member of the OEC who had just returned from a field studies program in Tanzania. She was the second vegan that I knew personally—the first was Rachel, someone who I met during my first week at Beloit. After the first meeting of the semester, I chatted with her about her experiences in Tanzania and somehow the topics of animal rights came up. I told her I had always wanted to see how animals were treated before they were made into food, how they were slaughtered. She lent me a video, which I brought back to my dorm and placed into the VCR. One of my friends, who had just finished watching the Meatrix, decided to join me. In a way, I expected the film to inspire me to commit to vegetarianism—I wanted it too--,but I grievously underestimated the impact it would have on my life.
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