There are days that feel hopeless in our fight for nonhuman animals. Days when we wake up to another horrific undercover investigation at Tyson Foods. There are days we see yet another, “but bacon though” commented below a Toronto Pig Save video that has us choking back tears at our desks. As vegans, we know these days well–the victories seem too small, the violence too great, the apathy level of humanity at an all time high.
I was there last week, saturating in that state of being while sitting at work. A recent headline about finding piglets crushed to death at a factory farm had me feeling a bit, hmm, upset? Perhaps that’s why, when my co-worker mentioned wanting to get a ham sandwich after work, my face twisted into a strange pinch–a failed attempt to hide my annoyance.
Our conversation went as follows:
Co-worker: “Ok, ok, why shouldn’t I get ham?”
Me: “Well, I grew up with a pig so I guess I just feel particularly sensitive to people eating pigs.”
Co-worker: “Because they’re smart?”
Me: “They’re so smart! They can learn to play video games! But beyond that, they’re genetically similar to humans.”
Co-worker: “Hmm, ok I won’t get ham. I’ll go for turkey.”
(At this point I let out a genuine chuckle, knowing that I was about to trap my kind coworker in a conversation with a particularly sassy-feeling vegan at the end of the work day)
Me: “Well, if we’re being frank, turkeys, or birds in general are the most abused animals in our food system so…”
Co-worker: “Oh god, so what do I choose?”
Me: “Ha! Well, that’s the eternal question now isn’t it?”
We let the conversation go with a silent acknowledgement that, although we ate differently, we could both appreciate the conundrums we face as we begin to question the ethics of our food. We said goodbye for the day over jingling keys and the sound of the blinds hastily falling to meet the window sill.
About an hour later, my phone chimed. I slid the lock bar over, revealing this text from my co-worker:
We don’t get large victories every single day but, sometimes, acknowledging the little wins can help those hopeless feelings fade. If we’re lucky, a simple conversation we didn’t think much about can give us that little jolt of energy to keep showing up, doing the hard work, and to keep fighting.