My family and I rescued a baby rabbit the other day. He got stuck in our basement window well and was too little to jump back out. I realized I knew very little about rabbits. At what age are they left to fend for themselves? If we had to rescue the rabbit by touching him, would his mother reject him? Was his mother going to come for him? I didn’t know but we couldn’t leave him there. My mother and stepfather couldn’t figure out how to pop the basement window out of its frame and we weren’t sure crawling under the porch was going to be feasible. My stepfather remembered the grate covering the well at porch height lifted off so he headed out and I followed to help. I tried to climb down inside the well and discovered I suffer from claustrophobia. So, how to rescue the bunny without turning into a quivering lump? My stepfather suggested putting our long handled shovel into the well and seeing if the rabbit would climb on. I was skeptical: no doubt the shovel would scare him. How would we get him on it-and keep him on it-long enough to lift him out without hurting him?
Imagine my surprise when the rabbit gave the shovel a sniff and climbed right on. He stayed perched on until I’d lifted him out of the well and he could hop off under our deck to cheers from my mother. I swear that rabbit knew we were trying to help him and REALLY wanted out of the window well. Anthropomorphism aside, the rabbits actions denoted an intelligence and understanding that surprised me a little and then got me thinking about why I became a vegan.
My reasons were two-fold. One, I was terrified arthritis was going to put me in a wheelchair and I wanted to avoid that at all costs. I’d read that the vegan/plant-based diet cured all sorts of ills and I was desperate enough to change my lifestyle. At the same time, I experienced a crisis of conscience. The thought of eating specific animals horrified me. Why them and not others? Was intelligence the basis for my choosing to eat some animals and not others? I checked The Kind Diet out of the library, even told my mother I was just curious and was NOT looking to become a vegan, and then became a vegan.
I confess better health was my driving force. I was conflicted about animals and didn’t want to contribute to their suffering but had a long way to go before I could say with all honesty “I’m Vegan for the Animals”. And then, I didn’t want to say “I’m Vegan for the Animals” because, as I studied up on nutrition and how to stay healthy on the vegan diet, I ran into authors who had the attitude that those who chose a vegan lifestyle for health were somehow less ‘vegan’ than those that did so for the animals. I admit I can be a little too “my good opinion once lost is lost forever” (Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen) but that attitude upset me so much I still won’t buy those authors’ cookbooks and I’ve been vegan for close to five years.
Fortunately, I encountered far more kind and supportive vegans than I did rude and obnoxious ones and my health has thanked me for it. The improvement in my health did clear the way for me to consider how I thought of the other living beings that inhabited this planet with me; not just animals. Now I can say; “I’m vegan for my health, for others’ health, for the health of this planet I live on, for other humans, and yes; for the animals”.
The longer I study, the more reasons I have for the lifestyle I’ve chosen and that’s just it; it’s my lifestyle and my reasons: I would never consider myself superior to anyone else just because I’ve made changes they can’t-or won’t-make themselves. My choices are mine alone and, again, I want to send my thanks out to all the vegans and non-vegans alike who supported me, freely answered my questions, and let me make such choices for myself. I strive to be so kind.