This is the first of, what I hope to be, a series of posts about animal rights as it relates to psychology. I have always been interested in psychology and I intend to go back to school this fall to study it. Of course, the fact that I find it interesting in no way qualifies me to write about it. So these posts will be purely from my own perspective and about my own experiences.
I have never been what you would call a happy person. My life has always fallen well below my expectations. However, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I feel like it might be worth it anyway. I believe I owe this newly found motivation to the animal rights movement.
I struggled for many years with feelings of worthlessness and depression. There was a long period in my life when I really did not want to live anymore. I felt that there was no reason for me to keep going because, no matter what I did, I still didn’t feel that my life had any value. It is only recently that I have found the value in my own life. I am now living every day with the goal of furthering animal rights in whatever way I can. Even if those ways are pretty small and insignificant most of the time.
I have always loved animals and felt a need to protect them. When I was a child I used to rescue bugs from other kids who were trying to squash them. I stopped eating meat when I was thirteen and became vegan at eighteen. As much as I cared about animals and as much as I wanted to help them in any way I could, I still never felt comfortable talking about my beliefs and, for the most part, would keep my veganism to myself unless it became necessary to talk about it. My friends at the time knew that I was vegan, but they didn’t really know why and they certainly didn’t know how strongly I felt about it.To be honest, I’m not sure I even allowed myself to realize how strongly I felt about it.
My life finally changed when I accepted the fact that animal rights is the most important thing to me. I’m not sure exactly when this occurred, but I think it was shortly after my first trip to Farm Sanctuary. Getting a chance to interact with all of those amazing animals who had been so wronged by humanity made it impossible for me to ignore the importance of the animal rights movement. Suddenly, instead of desperately searching for purpose in my life, I had a purpose. I just needed to find a way to fulfill it.
I still don’t know exactly what I’m going to do with my life. I haven’t yet figured out what would be the most effective thing that I could do. Until I figure that out, I am just going to do anything and everything I can. If nothing else, each and every one of us has the ability to affect those around us. There are at least four people in my life who have stopped eating meat because I finally got up the courage to tell them how important it is. That is something. It’s not a lot, but it’s something and, as crucial as this cause is, every tiny bit of impact we can have is important. There are still so few of us, and we are all needed if this movement is going to succeed.
So has animal rights transformed me into a happy, well-adjusted person? No. Has it given me a reason to live? Yes. And, for me, that’s enough.
*The picture is of Theresa, a good friend from Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen NY.
Image credit: Tobias Akerboom (at hutmeelz)