CHOOSING AND BEING COMMITTED TO A CRUELTY-FREE LIFE
For almost 13 years I have chosen to live a cruelty-free life and to eat a plant-based diet.
I have four very simple reasons for this choice. I don’t want to contribute to
- violence against animals;
- world HUNGER;
- destroying the environment; or
- compromising my health.
There is no feeling better than knowing my behavior is aligned with my principles & values:
- I believe in being positive and kind.
- KINDNESS creates possibility.
- Being positive means I recognize HOPE.
My choice in becoming a cruelty-free vegan is very specific and conscientious and includes not wearing or using any animal products and eating only a plant-based diet.
This choice has had a profound effect on me in terms of looking at world hunger, human rights, workers’ rights, sustainable health issues, environment conservation & protection, animal rights, farm animals, zoo animals, circus animals, wildlife preservation, and certainly my own health and the health of others in this world.
Living a cruelty-free life and eating a plant-based vegan diet is a powerful, compassionate, and healthful way to live.
1) You recently became part of Maya’s Legacy Society when you made Farm Sanctuary a beneficiary of your trust and brokerage account. Why was this important to you?
When Gene Baur first saw that tiny black-and-white cow in 1987, who was only a few days old and had been left to die, he made the important decision of bringing her home. That was the early days of Farm Sanctuary; that beautiful little baby was named Maya.
The possibility and promise of life being stronger than death, of assistance being stronger than neglect, of education being stronger than ignorance, and of love being stronger than cruelty and abuse, became a reality for farm animals.
We have the potential to make a lot of impact in ordinary moments. Those times when we take humane action because we care. Thoughtful acts are carried out every single day. Each time we give, each time we make a humane decision, each time our values lead us to care MORE about the innocent, those are the amazing daily gifts we can give.
Giving financial support to Maya’s Legacy Society means I stand firm with Farm Sanctuary and believe in their important, life-affirming work for farm animals everywhere.
So, give now. And give what you can in your legacy for farm animals. Let’s all help Farm Sanctuary help the animals win!
2) What was the process of creating your legacy plans like for you? How did you feel when it was done?
Completing the paperwork through my brokerage account was so easy, just completing a form.
My belief is that animals — and therefore people — are suffering now. Animals — and therefore people — need help now.
So, knowing that creating my legacy plan is in line with my values, there was no reason to wait to make the commitment to give.
3) You’ve said that as individuals, we all should have a mission that should fit on a T-shirt. What is yours and why is it important to you?
Creating a life that reflects my values is a beautiful, heart-wrenching experience. Beautiful because it gives me peace. Heart-wrenching because there is always more to do to build that life. That’s why it’s important to me to identify my VISION and my MISSION.
Identify your VISION. Where are you going? What is the CAUSE or ISSUE you want to focus on?
Identify your MISSION. Why are you going there? What is your primary goal or purpose?
Mission explains purpose. Purpose is THE reason you’re here.
While each person’s individual mission might be unique, mission is the same for everybody:
CHANGING LIVES IS ALWAYS THE STARTING POINT AND ENDING POINT OF MISSION.
Mission should fit on a T-shirt. The mission says WHY you do what you do, not how you do it. For example, what motivates me is to prevent suffering — with the goal of eliminating it forever.
Therefore, my mission, which fits on a T-shirt, is:
UNSHACKLE HOPE — PREVENT SUFFERING
4) You said when you went vegan overnight, you had your first full night’s sleep in peace. What was it like for you?
When I attended a PETA conference in the spring of 2005, I didn’t really know what I was in for. I was maybe 70% vegetarian (and considered myself a cheese queen), didn’t at all truly understand what being vegan meant, was glad to learn that plain coffee IS vegan, and learned that soy milk does NOT create the same taste in coffee as half & half!
But what happened that weekend was a life experience so profound that it altered me forever. Some days in our lives are so monotonous that we don’t even notice where the day went, much less what happened that day. But the lessons I learned about myself the day I became vegan (cold-Tofurky!) were far more important than many other lessons in life. Why?
Because I learned about my values.
It was a discovery of my preferences and, therefore, my ability to prioritize my values became crystal clear. I learned that day the one thing that meant more to me than anything else:
TO PREVENT SUFFERING. In the environment. The water system. The animals. My personal health and the health of others. In other words: the WORLD.
Because I can so clearly identify that my strongest value (to prevent suffering) is preferable, all my current behaviors act on that preference.
It’s a value judgment for me to prefer cows NOT TO SUFFER more than I prefer cheese.
It’s a value judgment for me to prefer pigs not to suffer more than I prefer bacon.
It’s a value judgment for me to prefer clean water more than I prefer farm animals living in horrifying conditions who have no choice but to foul that water.
It’s a value judgment for me to prefer that all the children in the world have enough healthy and diverse plant-based foods to eat more than I prefer to see animals cruelly slaughtered.
That day in 2005 laid the foundation for what became my identity: I prefer cruelty-free. I’m VEGAN.
And being VEGAN has been a defining blessing in my life. That blessing is peace. That peace came with the awareness that I will never again knowingly make an innocent animal suffer for me or my plant-based lifestyle.
Anything else you would like to share?
Sometimes, it’s not what we start doing that makes a difference, but what we STOP doing that makes the biggest impact on our lives and the lives of others. Sometimes the growth and change we want begins with taking something away and simplifying. When we first start to simplify our lives, we became more intentional about how we spend our time, our money, and our energy.
And when we become more intentional, we might ask ourselves this most important question: How can I bring value to animals, to others, and to myself?
Shifting our focus can help us to view challenges with fresh eyes.
Some things I believe:
- That we need to think — every day — about what we can do to give ourselves the peace that comes from being kind.
- That we need to ask ourselves what we might do today that builds the future we want to create.
- That what I do or say increases energy needed to promote (farm) animal rights.
- That every day we get a chance to become better versions of ourselves.
- That connections lead to ideas, to solutions, to breakthroughs.
- That we need to see strength in others. It’s important to help people believe they can make a difference.
- That I will create the opportunities I want by paying attention to what I value.
- That when you have fewer decisions to make in your life it becomes easier to make the right ones.
- That it’s important to focus on tomorrow’s SOLUTIONS, not just today’s problems.
In my daily life I will:
Try to understand that other people often believe their motives to be as true as mine.
Only concern myself with what is right, rather than who is right.
Admit when I am wrong or confused. Others need to hear that perfection is never reality.
ALWAYS keep in clear focus that each path and every direction I choose must lead to all animals being given the opportunity to live in peace and to have the freedom to choose their own course. No more shackles!